Editor’s Note: This week faith writer Eva Marie Everson will begin a 12-week series on “High Maintenance Christianity,” an off-the-cuff look at time spent developing a high maintenance lifestyle vs. time spent developing a quality relationship with Christ. Feel free to use it in your personal study or in a Bible study group.
"Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but [the one] who fears the Lord...shall be praised." (Proverbs 31:30)
Apparently, I am a high maintenance babe.
I never thought of myself as high maintenance...until recently, that is. While my husband and I sat with a group of friends, someone mentioned a certain woman, marking her as "high maintenance," which was determined by the type of car she drove, the accessories she wore, and the labels neatly stitched on the inside of her clothes.
"I'm glad I'm not high maintenance," I said.
My husband's head whipped around. "Do what?" he asked.
My mouth fell open in a bit of protest. "What do you mean?"
"You aren't high maintenance?"
"No!" I reiterated.
"Then no one is," he said, shaking his head.
I kept my bottom lip in a pout until a few days later when the truth finally seeped in. I was taking a shower at the time. Overhead, the adjustable showerhead pelted out at just the right pressure and temperature. Beside me, on the window shelf and neatly lined up, were bottles of what my daughter refers to as "product:" name brand shampoo, conditioner, body scrub, face scrub, little brush for scrubbing, foot scrub, back scrubber, loofa sponge, shaving cream, razors, body wash (both scented and unscented).... You name it; it's there.
I raised my recently waxed brows.
I finished my shower, pulled back the double shower curtain (with matching accessories found throughout the room) and reached for a towel. A thick, thirsty one, color-coded to the room's décor. I propped a pedicured foot onto the tub's marble ledge and began to pat myself dry (ladies, never rub your skin!) beginning with my feet and legs and working my way upward. Done, I wrapped my hair in the towel, reached for a drier one to wrap myself in, and stepped out...
...and over to my vanity, where what my husband calls "a little city of cosmetics" awaited me.
Lotions-hand, face, feet, body-more scrubs, body sprays, perfumes, some seaweed extract proven to reduce cellulite. A $150 dollar toothbrush guaranteed to beat away the plaque. Nearby, a candle graces the top of a golden pedestal, and I light it. A nearby CD player entertains me with my favorite boudoir music 'o the week. I sit at the vanity, reaching for the first of many steps in becoming...oh, geez. High maintenance.
Okay so it's true. I get my nails done, my hair trimmed on a regular basis, and I am passionate about jewelry. I can be talked into a shopping spree-even if only to window shop-at any given moment...no matter what's going on in my life. I get up early in the morning, walk four miles in the heat and humidity, go to bed rather late at night and I nap in the afternoons.
I wear makeup in a variety of colors and name brands every single day...if only to impress my pets.
I like fine dining. My idea of roughing it is sleeping at the Ritz Carlton. I adore afternoon teas in cute little teahouses and won't drink coffee at dinner if it's not served in a cup and saucer.
I am a high maintenance babe.
Could there be a group for someone like me, I wonder, pondering myself in the vanity's mirror. Hello, my name is Eva Marie Everson and I'm a high maintenance babe.
That's not really the question, though is it? The question is: am I as high maintenance in my spiritual life as I am in my personal life? Am I a high maintenance Christian? And if not, what do I need to do to become one?
The Body Beautiful/Physical
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14)
She's a total package, long shiny hair, a face that could launch a thousand ships, and a body that-even after giving birth to a houseful of children-could rival that of any high school cheerleader. Ask her what her secret is and she'll tell you, "I work at it." The result of her hard work is a body that works for itself rather than against it.
I understand the latter concept all too well. As a writer, I sit in a chair many hours a day. A few years ago, when I began working as a freelance writer, I was trim. In shape. Feeling pretty good about myself. Three years later I was staring in disbelief at the sadistical scales in my physician's office. "Liar!" I screamed...but the truth of the matter was I'd gained thirty pounds over the course of little more than two years.
It wasn't just my vanity that was in trouble. With my new "fluffy" middle, my back had taken a beating (my bones and joints aren't the best in the world anyway...). I couldn't quite understand what one had to do with the other until my doctor explained that the stomach muscles support the spine. Let one go and the other crumbles.
So I decided to choose a diet plan and shed some unwanted pounds. Problem is, there are tons of said-plans out there and few of them include chocolate, which no day is complete without. This could only mean one thing: diet...not dieting. Diet is filling my body with healthy choices from the basic food groups...not depriving myself and then crumbling into an emotional heap should I "fall."
Next, I picked an exercise program. Again, tons of them out there. Should I go to a gym and work out with others? Should I sink tons of money into a home gym or should I simply buy myself a Walkman and trek around the block several times a day while listening to praise tunes? Should I jog? (Quick answer: no.) What about something fun like ballroom dancing? Swimming? Stair climbing vs. taking the elevator?
I chose walking, one of the finest, most beneficial exercises known to man. No expensive equipment necessary other than a good pair of walking shoes.
I also decided to drink water-lots and lots of it-every day. Water is a wonderful secret to overall fitness. In fact, a body's survival depends on water and has been ranked by experts to rate right up there with oxygen when it comes to life's essentials. It carries the food nutrients to the body's cells and cushions joints, protecting them even from the shock of exercise.
The result? I'm currently down two dress sizes and working toward more.
Marita Littauer, president of CLASServices, Inc. and author of You've Got What It Takes and Personality Puzzle, says that her secret for physical beauty is getting plenty of rest! Her secret to spiritual beauty is daily, ongoing, two-way conversions with God and Bible reading
The Body Beautiful/Spiritual
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? (1 Corinthians 6:19)
Just as it is important that we take care of our physical bodies, so it is equally important that we take care of our spiritual selves. In 1 Corinthians 12: 12-27, Paul expands greatly on the theme of physical body compared to spiritual body. We are, he writes, the body of Christ. What is done to the "body" is done to "Christ Himself."
The connection between the physical body and the spiritual body does not begin in the New Testament, however. Old Testament writers were just as knowledgeable of the parallel. When man first sinned-a spiritual act-both the spiritual and the physical body were affected. Spiritually, our eternal lives were now at stake. Physically, man would "till the soil" and woman would "give birth in pain." Physical, spiritual, and emotional wounds were now capable of slicing into us. We would forever on this earth be required as a race to take care of ourselves in every area of our lives.
Just as the physical body needs a proper diet, so does the spiritual. Without a balance of the Word, prayer, and fellowship we cannot grow. These three are the diet, exercise, and water which make up our spiritual needs.
Joshua 1:8 reads: Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. This is the Lord God Almighty instructing His servant Joshua before the greatest challenge of his life; he is about to cross over into the enemy inhabited Promised Land and must conquer it. The Lord's instruction of being "strong and courageous" (vss. 6, 7 & 9) depend upon Joshua's time spent in the Word.
Paul wrote, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." (Phil. 4:6) Paul wrote much on prayer, reminding us of what a precious gift it is to us, instructing us to pray "continuously." Naturally it is not possible to remain in our prayer closets without ever coming out, but we are to take on an attitude of prayer. This requires an understanding that prayer is more than our running into the throne room and barking out orders to God. Prayer is our being in a constant state of understanding we are in His presence...talking with Him as we would a friend...a father...and being ever intent on hearing His voice as He talks back to us.
The Second Chapter of Acts impresses upon us the importance of "fellowship" when it comes to growing both the individual body as well as the church body. Being with one another is a dress rehearsal of heaven, in my book. Recently, as I walked about Glorieta, New Mexico (a LifeWay Conference Center) with several hundred other Christians, I got a sense of Heaven. The constant fellowship...the talking about God with words of praise and adoration...the sitting together in a little coffee shop and exchanging our personal love stories with the Savior. I felt reenergized! Excited and blessed beyond belief to be a part of this Heavenly Body!
1. Marita Littauer is a sister who believes in staying in shape. Her favorite method of exercise is rollerblading, which she does fairly often but not often enough to suit her. What is your favorite form of physical exercise and how often do you do it?
2. Do you consider yourself "high maintenance" where your physical body is concerned? Define what you mean.
3. Are you "high maintenance" in your spiritual walk? Define what you mean.
4. Water makes up 2/3's of your body's weight and is one of the most important factors in staying healthy. Jesus referred to Himself as the Living Water, saying, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:13, 14) How much physical water do you drink a day? How much of the Living Water do you drink a day?
Award-winning national speaker, Eva Marie Everson is the author of Shadow of Dreams, Summon the Shadows and the recently released and highly anticipated Shadows of Light (Barbour Publishing). She can be contacted for comments or for speaking engagement bookings at www.EvaMarieEverson.com