Monday, December 29, 2008

The Staples of Soaps and Spirituality

When I was a kid, I used to spend time in the summer at my aunt's house with my cousins who were a few years older than me and who happened to be female. So, you can imagine the things I "learned" hanging around them. One thing I was introduced to, though, was soap operas. I don't remember much about them, but I do remember a few things about the plots that seemed pretty odd to me. Fast forward about 25 years and as my wife is now a stay-at-home mom, I've come home for lunch at times and found myself watching one of a couple different daytime dramas. So, I thought to myself, "What is it that makes a soap, a soap?" So here are a few character traits of a soap opera.
1. An evil twin with an eye patch
2. Someone everyone thinks is dead but is really alive
3. A rich person who always tries to buy everyone's affections
4. Someone with severe amnesia
5. Someone who is in, about to go in, or has recently been in a mental institution
6. Someone or someones who are still in love with someone who is deceased
7. A money-grubbing floosy who just wants some guy for his money
8. A young person dying

This is by no means an extensive list, but these items, I think, pretty well run true in daytime detergent dramas. As I thought about this, I asked myself, what are the staples of a spiritual life? There was a time when I would have made a list to include the following items and possibly a few others.
1. Regular prayer
2. Regular personal Bible study
3. Regular church attendance
4. Regular group Bible study
5. Regular tithing

But, as I looked back at my own life, I realized, the times where I had the most spiritual growth were times when many items on this list took a backseat to a lot of other pressures, stresses, and issues in my life (maybe during a time of divorce, losing a job, having financial woes). The late Youth Specialties president and founder Mike Yaconelli adresses this in his book, Messy Spirituality. This book breaks down the difference in being religious and being spiritual and looks at several biblical examples. Don't misunderstand me. All 5 items on my previous list are VERY important, however, sometimes we get so caught up in the disciplines of Christianity that we miss the rhuah of God moving in us. The book is a pretty quick read. Check it out! If you feel like you don't pray enough or read the bible enough or don't "have it all together" there is hope for you yet!

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