Summer is a crazy but beautiful time of year. But if you’re like me, by the time you get a little closer to the end of the summer, you’ve experienced so many highs and lows, you’re probably ready for a fresh start in some ways.
When we get our eyes fixed on the outcome, it’s a lot easier to stay on track. But when our focus is off by even just one degree over a long enough time, we end up in places we never wanted to go. We’ve all been there.
Any time is a great time for a spiritual recalibration. There are a million articles that tell us how to get fit on the latest diet plan, but the fitness I’m interested in is found in the deepest parts of our hearts.
God is our spiritual coach to help us get back on track. He loves renewing the areas of our spiritual lives that have become stale, to help us bring the absolute best version of ourselves to the world around us.
We’re all just human beings, with souls that are spiritual at the core. So we always want to keep the most important things front and center in our lives and get fit from the inside out.
Here are three simple steps for spiritual fitness that God prescribed in the Greatest Commandment.
Step 1 – Look Up
We spend a lot of time looking down. Our phones, our computers, our entertainment, our email… It pulls us into ourselves and away from others. When we stop seeking and looking up, we stop opening our hearts to say yes to God’s plans for us, designed to lead us in a fresh, positive direction. God loves us — always has and always will. And even though we can get off track, his love for us never diminishes, it’s always there for us.
The spiritual transformation we want to experience starts by looking up to God for his direction and guidance, responding to that amazing love he has for us by loving him back, and setting aside time to relate with him. Spiritual recalibration starts by cultivating upward living, by prioritizing your connection with God, looking up first, and developing the spiritual side of our life.
Step 2 – Look In
Once we start looking up and loving God first, then through our experience relating with God, we can learn how to love ourselves in a healthy way.
Whenever we stop connecting with and loving God, we start loving ourselves in unhealthy ways. Bad choices lead to doing things we shouldn’t, because we are defining what self-love should look like. The vertical axis – living and loving upward, is the primary pace-setter for looking in and loving yourself in a healthy way.
When we love ourselves without being connected to God, things get messy. The only way to look in and love yourself starts by understanding the heart of God and what he did for us on the cross, which teaches us that we are at the same time more loved than we can ever imagine, but more broken than we ever want to admit.
The good news for us is when we love and live upward and recognize how much God loves us, God reorients our self-love so we become increasingly emotionally healthy, and we bring God’s “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17) to every situation we’re in.
Step 3 – Push Outward
We are all experiencing tensions in our world today. We wonder, can things change? How? As you live upward by responding to God’s love, then begin to love yourself based on how God sees you through his work on the cross, God then invites you to push outward and love others with his love.
God doesn’t want his love to stop with us. He wants it to work its way out into the world. But loving others can be incredibly hard.
People are messy. And when we are not spiritually fit, we don’t feel like loving them, especially when they aren’t loving toward us.
But living upward continually reminds us that God loves us, even in the midst of our messy lives, and living inward teaches us to love ourselves even though we are messy. So living outward directs us to love others … especially when people are messy. And that changes everything. Imagine a world where we all reached out toward one another and shared God’s love in spite of how we feel. How beautiful would that be?
And just like that, in three simple steps, you find yourself, day in and day out, back in the groove of spiritual fitness.
It’s that simple: Upward. Inward. Outward.