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Somehow I let 365 days pass without riding my bike. I know better than to let that happen and still, it did.

I’m a survivor of open-heart surgery, I know better than to let the battle of the bulge beat me, and still, it has.

I preach balance and taking responsibility for our own lives and health, and still, I let 365 days go without really getting a good cardiovascular workout. As much as I enjoy my walks with Brock, the truth is that since Brock has developed severe arthritis, those walks barely count as a workout anymore!

I know I should watch what I eat … and, I do. I see every spoonful of ice cream I shovel into my mouth!

I’m a mess.

Then, over Labor Day weekend I made a decision that all I could do was commit to one day at a time. I needed to get back on my bike, and I needed to do it every day. Period.

edm_200x267 On Day 4 of riding my bike, I was on a nearby bike path when I ran into some parishioners from my former parish. They graciously congratulated me on getting married. Which I’m not. So, we had a good laugh, and I shared that my married state is an urban legend I am constantly correcting. They kindly agreed to take this picture of me and my t-shirt: “Every Day Matters.”

So, how does a guy like me let so many days pass without taking better care of himself?! That’s a terrific question – a really fair question that I wish weren’t so applicable! How does life get so full and busy that I don’t take time for the healthy activities I know that I need?

I love my life of ministry. I love being a priest. I love talking God with folks; being a ‘cheerleader for God’. I  love listening as people share how God is present and at work in their lives. Love being a part of people’s lives as they work hard at trying to live Godly lives in a sometimes extremely complicated world. I love what I do, and I’m always happy to add another ministry activity into my schedule.

But there’s also another reason why I am quick to respond to requests / invitations / expectations. For as much as I love my ministry, I also suffer from being a people-pleaser. I don’t like to disappoint others, and so sometimes I say “Yes” when I should more responsibly say “No.”

Can you relate? I thought maybe some of you could. I’ve found that my issues are largely universal issues. (And since I’m confessing so much already, I can add that I’m also a control freak, and a bit of a perfectionist. I try hard to keep these tempters at bay, but they can certainly get in the way of my goal to take better care of my health.)

But, you know, you and I don’t have to live like this forever.

The truth is, unless I’m healthy and taking care of myself, I’m really no good to anyone else. Remember when traveling on an airplane and the flight attendants give us the two minute, “Here’s everything you need to know if anything goes wrong” speech. One of the tips they tell passengers is that we need to put the oxygen mask on ourselves before we put it on anyone else. We’re not going to be of help to anyone else if we can’t breathe ourselves.

Prior to my heart surgery, I remember what it was like to not be able to breathe. After the surgery to replace my faulty valve the first thing I said to everyone was, “it’s amazing what you can do when you can breathe.”

People-pleasing, being a control freak, suffering from perfectionism suffocates me. Robs me of being me. Exhausts me. Puts me at risk of burning out. Extinguishes my joy.

And, there’s only one person responsible for this. Me.

So, all I can do is take it one day at a time and every day make a commitment to get on my bike.

Every day matters.

Every day.

Every day I get on my bike is another day I have made a decision to take care of me, breathe, and let God take care of the world for a little while.

Jesus gave us two great commandments. He said in Luke 10:27, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.”

It’s that last part we most often forget. Jesus told us we need to love ourselves. It’s not easy to do that. But do that we must or we’ll be no good for anyone else. Trust me. Trust God.

So, please join me friends; I know you need this speech too.

Peace everyone,

Chuck

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19 Comments

  • Dani Klorig says:

    Loved those words, it is something I often have a hard time doing.

    I am also asking you to sneak a prayer in for me as I am having back surgery
    on the 23rd. maybe on one of those bike rides. Dani Klorig

  • janet Rife says:

    Well said, Chuck. And nearly ALL of us can relate to these issues you mention. Loved the story about former parishioners congratulating you on your “marriage.” My resolve for today is to get back to my yoga class.

  • Betsy says:

    I totally need this speech. Thanks for sharing, Chuck.

  • Sue says:

    Wow did I need that! I are a box of goobers as I read this agreeing with how spot on this message is. Thanks chuck 🙂

  • Rose says:

    Once again you’ve hit the nail on the head – .can’t remark any better than everyone else has previously. It must be in the air, I’ve lost 20 pounds since April with careful eating and walking – my only exercise with my bad back….hugs to Brock – poor baby – he has company with my one cat who also is moving a lost slower. Take darn good care of yourself!!! That’s an order, dear friend.

  • Laura C says:

    Wow Chuck!
    This is such a timely post. Thank you for the EDM reminder as well. God speaks thru us if we are open to hear and willing to speak the truth.
    It has taken me nearly 50 years to understand what Jesus meant when he said, “love your neighbors as yourself”. What a simple and yet challenging thing to do when we put such pressure on ourselves to please and allow others expectations to cloud what we know is in our best interest to do.
    Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your thoughts and story!

  • joan skiscim says:

    Did not know you had heart surgery – happy to know you are doing so well. Tony had a valve replacement a number of years ago and it made all the difference in the world. He has been fine since as I know you will be. Exercise is very important so Keep moving. It is true you need to take care of yourself in order to be of any help to anyone else. An acquaintance did the reverse, refused surgery and is now a complete burden to his wife and family. Keep the faith
    affectionately Joan

  • Roberta Jennings says:

    Another great lesson from you, Chuck. Have not been to the gym in almost 3 months. Going back to my twice a week routine tomorrow. Thanks!

  • Sally says:

    SO what I needed to hear!! I often feel “guilty” taking that time for myself. However, you are absolutely right it is essential for us to care for ourselves to ensure our ability to care for others. Thank you and God bless you Chuck!!

  • Kathy says:

    Now feeling not so great for choosing work over the gym at lunchtime. Tomorrow for sure – edm! Keep going Brock and Chuck!

  • Mia Jones says:

    Great post Chuck. Proud of you. I happen to know of some folks that would love to ride bikes with you who live very near you, if you ever want company. me? I jog a bit, go to spin class and goe to a kick ass boot camp on Saturdays. You can really feel the Holy Spirit in the 2nd minute of a plank. Anyhow. Love you so much.. I’ll look for you on your bike.

  • Kathy McCleary says:

    Ah Chuck – ditto to the other comments…ditto. Love you my friend! God bless you mightily!

  • Austin Acocella says:

    This posting reminds me of a homily I heard long ago, delivered at Chuck’s former parish by Fr. Mike. Bazan. Mike precided at my marriage to my wonderful wife Cathy, 25 years ago, so we returned to visit him on significant anniversaries, including one at Good Shepherd. Mike’s message was almost identical to the one on Chuck’s blog: you need to love yourself first so you can love others. I think I’ll go out for a long walk now…and perhaps we need to visit Mike Bazan for our 25th anniversary.

  • Deborah Kuth says:

    Chuck, this is a great reminder for us all. Indeed it is one I will take to heart. I am sorry to hear of Brock’s arthritis. Last we saw him he was a pup full of energy. Watching our pets age quicker than we do is a great reminder of how short life really is. Best to take care of ourselves while we still can! May God continue to bless you and your ministry! Emanuel Episcopal is a VERY blessed church!
    Peace and bicycling
    Deborah

  • Ellen O'Neil Fuller says:

    Fr. Chuck,
    You continue to inspire…thank you and bless you!
    Best,
    Ellen

  • Martin says:

    How did you know I needed this speech?!! Thanks for the sermon, I mean pep talk 😉 Miss you Chuck….happy biking!

  • TERRY says:

    YOU ARE SUCH A GOOD CHEERLEADER FOR GOD ..
    KEEP IT UP ON YOUR BIKE .. smiling here
    edm … great mirror message

  • Joani Peacock says:

    Yes. Every day matters. Every day is a holy day – a gift! It may seem a bit sacriliguous but it can be helpful sometes to think
    of the Great Commandment in reverse. Self then neighbor then God. Not that you love yourself more – but first so you can love God with all
    your might and truly care about your neighbor most
    fully. Good stuff! Thanks, Chuck!

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