Health is of one substance

“You don’t need to make things happen. God provides. Your job is simply to listen, trust, and obey.” There’s so much truth in these words. God leads and we follow. Mary yields herself to become the vessel of God, saying “Be it unto me according to your word.” The psalmist says, “Save me. I am yours.” The Apostle Paul says, “You are not your own. You were bought with a price.” Jesus says, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” We surrender our lives to God; we cast our cares on Him, and He cares for us.

Yet there is another side to the truth that may at first seem contradictory. As is so often the case, the whole truth is a paradox, and which angle we most need to hear depends on where we’re at in life—or even where we’re at in our day. The other side of the truth emphasizes our responsibility to act in the world, to direct our lives, to fulfill our earthly duties, to make decisions, commitments, & plans, to discipline ourselves and lead others. I have long been allergic to such words as these. I have much preferred to be on the receiving side. “Lord, you lead and I will follow.” Seeking inspiration and insight through contemplation—like Mary, “treasuring these things in her heart.” In many ways this has of course served me well, because it represents a truth about our nature: we are part of a larger whole, we are utterly dependent on that whole, and we are Divine children needing guidance for our lives. Yet it is possible to be so focused on this side of the truth that we can miss the other side, causing our devotion to turn sour. We must not only receive but give, not only yield but direct, not only trust but obey, not only follow but lead, not only hear but do, not only surrender but fight.

If I had to choose one name for this synthesis, it would be health, which in fact etymologically means “wholeness.” We may look at these two aspects as two different things that need to be negotiated, achieving a compromise, for example, between the masculine and the feminine. But the truth is that, while health does manifest as a homeostasis and a balance between two apparently opposite forces, health itself is of one substance—not 50/50 but 100%. It’s just that our minds can’t quite synthesize the whole without seeing the parts, and thus it is useful for us to look for apparent balance as an indicator of uncompromising health, extreme vitality, life to the max.

Not only individual people but entire cultures may need to hear one or the other side of this truth. For example, it seems safe to say that American culture has, on the whole, erred on the side of being too masculine. We in America are an action-oriented people. This is a wonderful thing. We get things done. We innovate and create, we start and sustain large organizations, we accomplish huge, complex tasks, we make new discoveries and harness nature to powerful effect. The Masculine principle is apparently alive and well in America (keyword: apparently). Yet we must consider the fruits of our labors. How have we impacted the environment? How have we impacted the people of other cultures? How well are we taking care of ourselves? Wherever we have promoted poverty, death, or destruction, we have demonstrably lacked wisdom. It’s no accident that the Bible personifies Wisdom as a woman:

Out in the open wisdom calls aloud,
    she raises her voice in the public square;
on top of the wall she cries out,
    at the city gate she makes her speech:
“How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?
    How long will mockers delight in mockery
    and fools hate knowledge?
Repent at my rebuke!
    Then I will pour out my thoughts to you,
    I will make known to you my teachings.”
— Proverbs 1:20-23

In a sort of reversal of the “knight in shining armor” theme, She (Wisdom) promises to rescue us:

Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,
    from men whose words are perverse,
who have left the straight paths
    to walk in dark ways,
who delight in doing wrong
    and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,
whose paths are crooked
    and who are devious in their ways.
— Proverbs 2:12-15

Notice here that the prescription is more wisdom, not less action. We won’t become healthy as a culture by decrying or suppressing the Masculine energy. Instead, we need to fulfill it and complete it by embracing the Feminine—by embracing wisdom.

What we as individuals most need to hear, again, depends on where we’re at. I have found much peace in the thought that I don’t need to make things happen—that I need only yield to “God working in me to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13) But there’s the rub. I still need to act. What I am beginning to understand is that when I refuse to direct my own life, I am effectively refusing to let God direct my life. Paul understood the need for self-discipline:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
— 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

This is the message I am hearing and embracing today, because I had allowed my understanding of surrender to become distorted. What do you most need to hear? Has your understanding of self-discipline become distorted to the point of self-abuse and sickness? (I’ve been there too.) In that case, you may need to focus on rest, self-care, restoration, and mothering yourself, heeding the call of Jesus to “come to me…for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Whatever the medicine, we’re all after the same thing:

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
— John 10:10

Manifesto of personal responsibility

My name is Evan Lenz. I am here to live the truest expression of who I am. I am here to direct my life in accordance with the will of the One who sent me.

I use any and all means to guard my heart and keep me at peace. I have been given a fast and constantly moving mind. It is thus my responsibility to be a good steward of this gift—to harness its power and continually realign it with my true nature.

I am responsible for remembering the One from whom I came and acknowledging the One who now lives within me—the One who made the decision to be here at this time and place and under these circumstances. The Great I AM lives within me. I thus already have everything I could possibly need to fulfill all the purposes for which I was created. I am responsible to bring this perspective and this knowing into every arena of my life, utilizing all the powers I have been given—mental, physical, emotional, environmental—to perform the will of God. It is impossible for God to be a victim. God apportions exactly the resources that are needed to accomplish each task. Any perception of lack or limitation is an illusion. To complain is to blaspheme the Holy Spirit.

I am here to step out in faith, taking action when action is appropriate. I have been given clear faculties of mind and a clear understanding of my duties in any given moment or season. It is thus my job to act accordingly. This is the only perspective needed: God knows what God is doing. To question this is to squander the life I have been given. To demand more clarity or understanding when next actions are already clear is to fight against nature and to fight against God. I am not here to fight against God. I am here to live the life God has given me. I am here to trust that, as I take each step, God will reveal the next one to me. I am here to rest in the flow of life—which includes all the intense planning, thinking, and physical activity that Life gives occasion to and makes a way for. I am fully equipped for and happily rise to the challenge of living the life I was created to live.

Why I meditate

I have been practicing meditation more consistently this year than ever before. There are of course many kinds of meditation, including “meditating on the Word,” but the form I have been practicing is quite simple. It could be summarized as “sitting.” Of course there are many things you could do while sitting, but the practice and the challenge is to be—that is, be more and do less. When I enter into meditation, my intention is to yield my whole self to God. What does that mean? Specifically, I am abandoning myself, letting myself go, allowing everything that bubbles up in my experience—thoughts, feelings, sensations, but doing my best not to engage any of them. When we engage a thought or a feeling, it is almost as if we become that thought or feeling. We get “carried away” and merge with the movement that is happening. This is a remarkable ability we have—to get in the zone, in the flow of experience, solving problems, inventing new creations, exploring other worlds, all within the space of our minds. But in meditation, the practice is, for a time, to not do those things. Instead, we just observe. We let experiences rise and fall, come and go, not identifying with any of them. It’s a practice of radical awareness, of continually stepping back, repeatedly recognizing that “that’s not me, that’s not me”… And if we find ourselves thinking “that’s not me,” we recognize that that’s not us either and let go of the thought process, recognizing it for what it is—a process playing itself out. Thus, although my intention is to abandon myself, what I’m really doing is abandoning all the things I tend to mistake for myself—especially my thoughts. When I become aware of something (such as a thought), I can no longer identify with it. A detaching has occurred, and who I take myself to be has just been both uprooted and expanded.

That all may be very interesting, but what’s my goal in meditating? If I had to choose one primary goal (as there are many benefits), it would be this: making room for God’s Spirit to dwell within me. What does that mean? To me, it means taking time to do nothing but get out of my own way. That this would be beneficial is predicated on my faith that there is a Higher Power and Intelligence that created and continues to animate all of nature, including me. To meditate then is to consciously yield my will to God’s will, trusting that God is always present and active. If I did not have this faith and this trust, meditation would be a pretty scary prospect. “You mean you want me to abandon my mind and let go? Stop holding myself together? How do I know I won’t fall apart? How do I know I won’t lose myself for good?” The truth is that I have no way of proving this other than to say it hasn’t happened yet! On the contrary, when I am consistently practicing my meditation routine, life seems to go more easily, inspiration seems more accessible, and on the whole I feel healthier. Those are some nice benefits. But again my primary intention is to make myself available to God—wholeheartedly and unreservedly, not even mediating God’s access to me with my mind, which means I don’t even know what God’s doing with me. Hopefully God can be trusted! That indeed is my hope.