What Are Your Anchors?

I started going to boot camp last April. I don’t really know what got into me. Perhaps I was overwhelmed by the five or so pounds I had gained over the winter. Or inspired by the women I knew who went there and felt better and got stronger and enjoyed their time together. For whatever reason, I showed up one Thursday morning at 5:45 a.m. and I tried to keep up with a combination of kick-boxing, aerobics, pushups, situps, lunges and a sprint around the track at the end. I had a headache for three days afterwards. I was sore for five.

For a while, I went once a week. I could handle the aerobics and the running, but I still only managed to complete about fifty percent of the abs and weight lifting. I didn’t lose any weight, but I started to notice a difference. I had more energy. I felt more motivated to eat healthily. I started running on the days I wasn’t going to boot camp.

By the end of the summer, my diet had changed pretty dramatically. I had lost the five pounds. My back didn’t hurt as much even after a day of lugging Marilee around. And I started to look forward to those early morning workouts.

For a long time before I started going, as far as taking care of my body is concerned, I had drifted aimlessly. Take a run here, eat a salad there, step on the scale at my annual doctor’s visit and cringe, but nothing had motivated me to change. But once I started to show up two mornings a week, and even more once I started to look forward to chatting with the other women and men in attendance, started to notice change in my strength and energy levels, then other things started changing too. Eating habits, sleeping, drinking, additional exercise. Boot camp, 5:45 a.m., two mornings a week. It anchored me.

I’ve thought for a long time about how our physical lives offer us templates for our spiritual selves. Jesus often used very tangible examples from the ordinary physical world to point out something true about God. A farmer sowing seed. Bread and wine. Coins and sheep. And this boot camp experience has served as a helpful window into my spiritual life too.

As I come out of the years of erratic sleep patterns and dirty diapers and constant illness, as my kids become more independent, I realize that in many ways my spiritual life has been adrift. Floating into a harbor of prayer as I  nursed William in the middle of the night and back out again when he started to sleep all night through. Drifting into conversations with our kids about God’s nature. Flailing about on the open seas during our year of transition and moving. I’m starting to want some anchors again.

My spiritual anchors used to involve me and/or other adults. Quiet times in the mornings with prayer cards and Bible reading plans and a journal at my side. Small group Bible studies. But now, my children are included in my spiritual practices. And my children have helped shape new anchors for this boat of my soul. I sing hymns to our children every night before bed, daily reminders of what I believe, of who we are: Forever God is faithful… Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things to wondrously reigneth… When you walk through the waters I will be with you… And we go to church every Sunday as a family, as a sometimes-wriggling, sometimes-pouting, sometimes-Alleluia-proclaiming family. And we pray together once a week as a family.

These things have become my new anchors, in a new port. And I trust that as I settle into the stability they offer, as I start to grow and look forward to them, then other things–like more personal prayer and Scripture-reading and service to others–will follow. Right now, I’m just grateful to be in a safe harbor, with them, enjoying the view.

How about you? What are some anchors in your life? 

About Amy Julia Becker

Amy Julia Becker writes and speaks about family, faith, disability, and culture. A graduate of Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary, she is the author of Penelope Ayers: A Memoir, A Good and Perfect Gift (Bethany House), and Why I Am Both Spiritual and Religious (Patheos Press).

Comments

  1. I used to sing my kids to sleep with praise songs when they were infants/toddlers, Amy Julia. They’d even make sleepy requests, murmuring “Love You Lord …” or another song they found comforting.
    My wife began a practice of praying every time she drove them anywhere, so that as they loaded up and drove out the driveway the kids would hear, “Are you ready to pray?” and then she’d pray over the day ahead of them – school or practice or playing at a friend’s house or whatever. We still pray as the car leaves the house, and our kids are now 21 and 23.


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