Fair warning in advance … these thoughts have been swirling in various iterations for the past week or so and I literally have no idea if they’ll come across in a way that’s helpful. But I hope they do. And if they don’t? Well, I hope you had a good game on in the background (UofM fan today!) and that you won’t have missed much.
Last Sunday, the sun came out. I’m pretty sure it had been 67 days since we’d seen it (or 11, but you get me) and after working through some stuff over the weekend, I immediately jumped up, made sure I had a hat and mittens and got myself out for a walk. I have a couple of routes I frequent in nearby Wayland and tend to make a call on which once I know how I’m feeling (it’s either three or four and a half miles, all depending). I arrived at my usual parking spot, threw my earbuds in so I could listen to some church and thankfully, grabbed the winter wear because, hello 34°!
I’m pretty sure it didn’t take me any further than 25 feet to decide that this particular walk would end up being a 3-mile tour, but I’d made up my mind I was going to enjoy every step of it because it could most definitely be another 67 days before the sun returns.
Don’t get me wrong – I love living in Michigan. This is a state boasting amazing landscapes, many of the world’s kindest, good-hearted folk and the most beautiful lakes (except for Erie) in the … world? I mean, I don’t know. I haven’t seen lakes in every country but ours are pretty great.
The problem is that we lose a lot of daylight this time of year. Many of us are in the difficult position of leaving for work in the morning before the sun rises (thanks, daylight savings time!) and arriving home well after it sets. We may also, then, end up with weekends that are pretty dreary, potentially rainy and at worst, blizzard-like. So it stands to reason that we might have to find other ways to get the benefits of the sun.
For me, I take vitamin D. I’ve taken it for quite some time now; so long, in fact, that it’s just become a habit. After I’ve taken care of the morning showering, I head towards the closet where my supplements are all lined up and start throwing them back one by one. The Vitamin D is just one of several. But is it helping? (insert shrug emoji here)
And this is what got me thinking. I take a bunch of supplements. Many of them are touted as being helpful for workouts (‘get that pump!’ or, ‘recover those muscles!’) and some are supposed to make me look younger. Don’t tell me if those are helping or not, mmmk? But the truth in all of it is that aside from one or two that I’ve experienced noticeable differences (good and bad), I literally have no idea if I even need or should be taking them.
So I have to wonder if it stands to reason that this could be applied more broadly to life’s other ‘supplements’? Take Facebook, for instance. (don’t hate me, dear readers!) For most of us, we claim Facebook is the way we can keep up with people we rarely get to see. But is it helping? Is it truly allowing us to do that or is there some dangerous side effects of it sucking our time, helping us numb out and reminding us of how we’re not as happy and blessed as our friend, Jane (fake friend to protect the innocent)? I guess, sometimes for me, the latter is true. Now, I will not say the same about Instagram. Instagram is, indeed, my happy place forever and ever, amen. But Facebook? I have become pretty intentional about limiting myself. And I can tell when I’m not. Because suddenly, I’m reminded in every which way how my life is not the way it was supposed to be.
I guess this can also apply to the things we use as supplemental to the Bible if you’re a Jesus follower like I am. I read a couple of different devotionals every morning. I read books by well-known Christian authors. And I seek out counsel from fellow Jesus-followers I trust implicitly. Same question. Is it/are they helping? Most of the time, for sure, yes. And sometimes? Maybe not. But I won’t know if I’m not continuously still seeking the truth in all of it.
I think I have a point. I think I also have some trouble articulating my thoughts well at times. Maybe it’s the Vitamin D (insert crying with laughter emoji here). My point is … there is literally nothing that will ever be as good as the real thing. Vitamin D will never have the same refreshing, healing power as the sunlight on your skin. BCAA’s may help with muscle buliding/recovery but a well-rounded diet with whole (read: real) foods packed with protein and other good things could also be exactly what you need. Facebook will never replace the value of a face-to-face conversation and even better? A hug! And devotionals and podcasts and sermons are almost always beneficial but I think sometimes, even there, you’ll find there is this feeling of being one step away from Truth.
So while supplements in all forms can come with a level of benefit, don’t lose sight of what’s real. Find the sun, even if you’re so bundled only your face can appreciate its glow. Eat the food, even if you stuffed your face too full at Thanksgiving. Talk to real people in real life, even if you can’t necessarily share a highlight reel that day. And finally, spend time in the Truth. Read His Word and listen for His voice.
As we head into another holiday season, I want you to know I’m praying for a balance in all of it. For you and for me.