I start this by saying I readily acknowledge the margin I’ve been graced with in my life financially. While these three keys are possible in “free” ways, I have been able to utilize these keys with resources, for which I am profoundly grateful. (A key for me is to be financially obligated and that becomes a fundamental accountability for me.)
I grew up in a fundamentalist church setting. I heard preachers rail regularly against the evils of psychology.
In my formative years, it was the jocks (the athletes) who were in great shape. I was not athletic. I was a complete nerd (before it was so dang cool to be a nerd). Physical care of my body wasn’t a priority.
Because I was a nerd, books were my therapy and my way to transformation. They still are in so many key ways.
In my early 30s I was struggling in ways I had not experienced before. Someone finally gave voice to what I did not realize: “You may be depressed. Get some help. I will help you get some help.”
While I was not battling severe depression, that early warning and encouragement was incredibly key and kept me from moving into a more severe state of depression. The benefit of a therapist outweighed my fundamentalist fear of having one in my life.
Off and on over the years I made crazy attempts to get back to the gym. There was a brief period I had the privilege of working out with a friend on a regular basis, which was a huge help to me. Other than that, my story was the usual: “It’s a new year, I’ll get to the gym.” I wasted a few months of fees without going regularly and quit.
It was a family crisis a few years ago that set me in motion to restore and add in those things I was missing. I could “pray my way through”… to a certain point. But I felt myself collapsing internally.
Back to a therapist I went… and I knew I needed my body in better shape so I intentionally joined a gym I could readily use on my terms without feeling I needed to look like some chiseled pro football player in the process. Along with that, I got into a training group. I needed the financial accountability.
I can attest that without those three things: my spiritual formation, my therapy sessions, and getting serious about physically training my body, I would be in terrible physical shape, deeply depressed… if I would not be dead by now. Honestly.
In the last few months I have added one more thing (and I may write more about this): a personal coach. And here is why.
In moving from Minnesota to Alabama, I also shifted radically in my career. I went from ministry to … “What in the world am I doing?!?”
In the last 18 months I have shifted to directing our family foundation and I confronted some deep biases in my own life. I had some mindset work to do in my life. This was usually the part where I would dive into some books, but with therapy and group training, I knew the key: what worked for me was the presence of another person.
There was a man I knew casually who was moving into the field of personal coaching and business consulting from ministry, so I met with him to see what his work was about. For the past few months I have had the benefit of a personal coach who has worked on my mindset, my attitudes, my personal history, and now is digging deep into how to set new courses for my life.
While I utilize his videos and his worksheets and training exercises, it is the one on one weekly sessions that have been the key point in this part of my life. He digs deep. He asks probing questions getting into my old mindsets. He leads me on self-discovery.
I wanted to share this because these are areas that have TRULY helped my life. My mind, my spirit, and my body are now in far better shape and working together and I am immensely grateful.
We cannot all afford “personal” attention in professional ways. There are people who can workout in their own home with equipment they purchased in a very affordable way and they do well physically. I am not one of them. But it IS possible.
There are ways in mental health that are affordable. We can get people into our lives to coach us and it doesn’t have to be lavishly expensive.
Those three keys in my life have been transformational. They have built onto my life of spiritual formation. I am deeply grateful.