To do list

I have low blood pressure. We’re talking 112/60 on a good day. But when I went to the doctor for my regular check up, my BP was 118/80. It was actually normal for once! I’d also been awakening by 4:00 AM and going strong till midnight.

Then it hit me – I’d been using a new protein powder which boasts more energy with use. The fine print says it contains 200 milligrams of caffeine! The protein powder is now history, and I’ve returned to my normal, low-key self.

You wouldn’t think so, but low BP can be a real health hazard. Doctors tend to get concerned when you’re under anesthesia and your BP drops to near-death levels. (True story.)

Sometimes my spiritual life can be the same. Virtually non-existent. I’m assembling blog posts, cranking out holy talk and indenting verses in italics. Inspiring readers, climbing analytic charts, functioning on a 200 milligram blog-frenzy. But my spiritual blood pressure is under the radar.

One morning, I zoomed past my Bible to the computer because I had a stroke of spiritual genius. Posted to Facebook to “encourage” all my fans. Pinned to Pinterest in hopes of new followers so I could – write more stuff, produce more growth, and be more engaged.

It’s like a drug – this blogging business. The more comments you get, the more you want to please your audience.

“When are you writing a book?” And suddenly, your commitments expand.

You need your hit – rising early, crawling in bed late, reading one more post on “7 ways to reach a million followers for Jesus” before you catch a few winks and…Do it all again.

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for apart from me, you can do nothing. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit. John 15:5, 8

When my kids were young, I pulled them out of school in order to home school. I was over the rat-race. The morning commute. The concession stand rotation. The science projects till midnight. I couldn’t enjoy my family because we were too busy. We removed ourselves from the “norm” and snuggled in at home.

And life slowed down. We read together, talked together, and grew together. The kids became each other’s best friends. And I was at peace. My mantra was: “You’re not responsible for the whole world. Just your people.”

And so it hit me yesterday, full in the face. I have become my own worst enemy. A 118/80 scarier version of my 112/60 former self. All hyped up with no place to go – except the computer and my virtual peeps.

Is this real life? Yes, they are real people. But my real people in my real life are here in my real house downstairs while I sit in my real office staring at my real computer for real hours.

And that doesn’t bring real joy. At the end of the day, when I climb into bed, I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach…Like nothing I did mattered. I don’t want to be that drug-induced blogging maniac.

In her book, Secrets of the Vine for Women, Darlene Wilkinson sums it up well:

The more experience we have in ministry, the easier it is to coast along on our talents, our store of knowledge, our experience, and our well-developed teaching aids…and leave God more and more out of the picture.

God wants us to bear fruit – in His name, which can only be produced by abiding in Him. Abiding in Christ isn’t running around like a crazy person performing “spiritual duties” so everyone else will be fed.

Christ can feed the masses without any help from us. Upon discovering the high blood pressure culprit, I unveiled a deeper issue. I don’t need a pseudo-charged up blood pressure covering up a virtual off-the-charts reading. Oh God, I am anxious about many things.

May I only choose the one thing that is necessary.

Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it – it’s the main course and won’t be taken from her. Luke 10:41-42, MSG



Ruthie Gray is a wife, mom of 4, and Gigi to the Tiny Tornado. She blogs at Rear, Release, Group, capturing joy in the transitions of parenthood. Her passion is mentoring moms and encouraging empty nesters with humor and practical advice, anchoring it in the truths of God’s Word. She awoke from the hysterectomy to the hospital staff screaming, “Breathe!” because her blood pressure was 37/17.
She lived to tell the story. Connect with Ruthie on Facebook, Twitter, Instragram, and Pinterest.
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