I first noticed it sitting on the bleachers in high school. It worsened standing on my feet for hours on end when I worked at the dry cleaners. And with each pregnancy and subsequent stint nursing, it further deteriorated. By baby number five, it was done for – my posture was shot.

It had happened little by little until one day I didn’t recognize my own silhouette in photos. “Is that me?” I thought, aghast. The sight made me recoil and wonder how the shape of my body could have changed so much. As a fitness instructor, I had spent years increasing muscle strength and cardiovascular endurance. Why did I look so weak? After a little self-assessment, I realized that while I had been making improvements in many areas, I had neglected certain muscles and had become lazy about engaging them regularly. 

As I was walking this morning, trying to be conscious of body stance, I thought about how as believers we are called to walk uprightly before the Lord. I wondered if there are any areas in which I had begun to slouch spiritually. Were there places in my life experiencing such a gradual decline that I hadn’t even noticed? Perhaps I’d been making gains in one area, while neglecting others, or maybe I’d been getting lazy with some daily habits. I began to assess my spiritual posture.

Am I more easily angered or more patient?
Am I more fearful or more secure in God?
Am I more prideful or more humble?
Am I more judgmental or more merciful?
Is my language more full of life and hope?
Do I have more hunger for God’s word?
Am I depending more on God or relying more on myself?
Is prayer my first response, or do I immediately seek the counsel and comfort of friends?

Although it takes more to get me angry these days,  I noticed I am not as careful about what comes out of my mouth. I’m also starting to slouch in the area of judgment. Several years ago I went through what I call “Judgement Boot Camp” where it seemed everything I had ever judged anyone for was happening to me. I thought I was cured forever, but I’ve noticed some areas where it’s creeping back in. 

How about you? Are there any areas in which you’ve started to slouch?

Although I identified the problem with my physical posture, the road back to standing correctly has not been easy. It is taking a lot of hard work and intentionality to make progress. Sometimes it’s exhausting. Sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes it just feels awkward. I’ve walked slightly slumped over for so long, walking uprightly feels awkward, even wrong. 

The same can be true as we begin to re-strengthen the spiritual muscles that enable us to walk uprightly before God. Identifying where we’ve begun to grow weak or lazy is the first step, but it will take hard work and intentionality to get where we want to be. Reimplementing good habits of the heart, mind and spirit will take continual mindfulness to re-engage in certain areas. At first, this might be exhausting, even painful. And if we’ve been slouching for too long, the correction may even feel wrong – loving our enemies, speaking life into hopeless situations, and showing respect to authorities we find dishonorable are all things that fight our natural inclinations. 

It takes hard work and the power of the Holy Spirit to mold us more into the image of Jesus, but the more we are conformed to his likeness, the brighter we shine in the darkness – and the world needs our light more than ever. May we not grow weary in our quest to walk uprightly before the Lord and shine brightly for his kingdom.

Cover Photo by Tucker Good on Unsplash.