When my church offered a spiritual wellness checkup at the beginning of the year, I was intrigued. Similar to what an annual physical checkup does for your body, the wellness check was designed to assess the health of your inner spirit and relationship with God. Although I didn’t quite know exactly what that entailed, I had just listened to my pastor preach about the importance of a wholesome and healthy soul. With the pandemic and all, I was a bit confused about where my mind, body, or SOUL was taking me. So like a sheep being led to slaughter, I eagerly signed up.

No sooner had I received my email confirmation, I began having serious second doubts about the decision. Did I really want to bare my most intimate fears and failures in front of a church staff member that I barely knew? Would they ask me my underwear size? Would the interview be secretly recorded and somehow used against me?

Curiosity got the best of me, and I proceeded to fill out all the online forms. I was given a list of several of the church staff who would be conducting the wellness interviews and was asked to choose two of the ones I felt most comfortable in meeting with. Knowing the baggage I would be bringing, I surmised that I needed the heavy artillery right from the get-go—so I asked for a session with the big cheese himself, Pastor James Williams. I was given two options—in-person or Zoom. I chose the Zoom—I figured it provided an easier escape route if needed.

I was then told to expect a list of upcoming questions designed to facilitate the meeting with Pastor James. Immediately, my mind flashed to queries such as “Have you ever peed in a pool?” or “When was the last time you cheated on an exam?” or “How often do to you pretend to pick up after your pet?” I kid you not. I truly expected tough, cutting questions designed to measure every angle of my integrity, character, and moral fiber.

Fortunately for me, none of the survey questions were quite that pointed. Instead, I was asked to reflect on seven general statements designed to evoke a torrent of personal thought and self-evaluation.

  1. Describe how you feel close or connected to God?
  2. What gives your life meaning and purpose?
  3. How are you experiencing (or not) spiritual growth or witnessing God’s power?
  4. What areas of your life feel most vulnerable, uneasy, or wounded? When things are difficult, how do you find comfort and/or hope?
  5. What are your rhythms of work and rest? How is your physical health affecting your spiritual health?
  6. How are joy and celebration a part of your life?
  7. How do you hope to grow spiritually in the coming year?

Wow! My first impression was Fuhgeddaboudit. No way was I going to be able to answer these—much less talk about it in front of others. But, as I put in some actual thought to developing coherent responses, I realized there was a distinct method to all this madness.

There were no right or wrong answers to any of these questions. They weren’t designed to embarrass you or put you on the spot. They were simply conversation starters—a way for Pastor James and I to connect and shoot the breeze, as comfortably as if we were talking about the current trials and tribulations of UK Basketball.

I’m not going to go into the details of our conversation together. That’s between the two of us. I will say that the session lasted over an hour—probably a bit longer than we both had anticipated. We also hit on some intensely emotional topics geared toward hope and healing. I’ll daresay that a couple of suggestions Pastor James cast my way were semi-revelatory and outlandishly comforting—worth the price of admission alone.

I’ll confess, I’ve got a long way to go on my spiritual walk. It seems I keep making the same mistakes. Often times, it’s one step forward and two steps back. It’s terribly frustrating. I keep telling myself that I should know better by now.

But maybe that’s part of God’s master plan. He doesn’t expect you to be perfect all the time. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us. That’s his grace at work…and I’ve learned to be much more grateful for it as the years roll by.

Would I recommend a wellness checkup for everyone? Absolutely! If you’re still hesitant about signing up, I’d encourage you to at least explore those seven spiritual questions listed above. Better yet—especially if you’re already a part of Centenary United Methodist Church—you can sign up for the actual wellness appointment at www.lexchurch.com.

It’ll be the best investment you can make for your mind, body, and soul. I promise—you won’t even have to reveal your underwear size.

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