Dentists say, “Only brush the teeth you want to keep.” So true! We know about dental hygiene, but what about spiritual hygiene? Hygiene maintains health and prevents disease. Spiritual hygiene is a set of habits that helps you keep close to Christ so you can live your best life now. Jesus’ way — his yoke — is easy to carry and good to keep. Here are some habits that will help:
Get a daily dose of God’s good Word. Find a book of daily scriptural meditations. Find a version of the Bible that you like. Read the daily meditation and the scripture it’s based on. That will allow Christ to reshape your life for good.
Practice gratitude. Gratitude dissolves despair and welcomes peace. Make it a habit to appreciate everyday blessings. It sounds trite, but it’s powerful.
Cultivate equanimity. What’s equanimity? Be decent and don’t expect reciprocity. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Simultaneously, free yourself from the expectation that they will the same. This frees you to base your behavior on God’s grace — not on what others do. Doing this brings peace.
Forgive. Resentment is spiritually toxic. Jesus said, “Forgive seventy times seven.” One victim of domestic violence did that literally. After leaving her batterer, she was bitter for years. Finally, she began praying for her abuser for 49 consecutive days, asking God to help her forgive. On Day 38, she was finally able to — and found profound healing by doing so. Try it.
Disconnect from your devices and reconnect with God. Spend some time each day in quiet; loving on your family members and pets; or simply being in nature. The beauty of creation will reconnect you with your Creator. Stopping artificial stimuli will let God fill you with good things.
Take care of your body. Physical health promotes spiritual health. Getting proper nutrition, sufficient sleep, and regular exercise shapes us, body and soul. Try this and see what happens.
Look at God looking at you. Most of us maintain a steady stream of negative comments about how we are not enough [fill in the blank]. When you’re berating yourself, stop – and look at God looking at you with a gaze of unconditional love. That shatters our self-abusive regard for ourselves — and others.
Be more loving. Jesus commands us to love as he loves. But how can we ascend to his level? Who in your life was most loving to you? For me, it was my grandmother Lillian. Everything she did was loving. Just try to be as loving as the Lillian in your life. That will teach you everything.
We aren’t punished for our sins. We are punished by them. If you’re doing wrong, stop and change your ways. The Bible calls that repentance. Old habits are hard to break, but God will help. Some of our worst behaviors come from past hurts and current addictions. Competent counselors and recovery groups are some of God’s most powerful angels. Summon the courage to connect with them and be free.
Help someone else. Do that and God will heal you both. Volunteering to further a cause, bless a person, or strengthen a community heals everyone.
Participate in a worshipping community. Find a good church that will love you and show up there regularly. Others can further our walk with Christ — and we can help them. Keeping company with God’s family is a blessing.
Just begin. None of us has to be a spiritual Swiss Army knife with every spiritual gift. You don’t have to be a Billy Graham, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, and Pope Francis all rolled into one. God only wants you to be you. The goal is love. These are some ways to grow in love. You don’t have to do them all, and you don’t have to do them perfectly. Just begin. Pick one and be intentional in practicing it. As you do, that practice will lead to others. The Holy Spirit will guide you.
Don’t expect uninterrupted progress. Spiritual growth is always three steps forward and two steps back. So, don’t let setbacks discourage you. God uses our mistakes and missteps to instruct and strengthen us. It’s not about being perfect. It’s about being present to God in love. Whatever helps you do that will connect you with God. Don’t wait until you get to heaven to have eternal life. You can have eternal life now and live your best life now. If that sounds good, that is the Holy Spirit nudging you to begin. Just take the next step — and the next and the next — and you’ll find yourself with Christ on the road that leads to joy.