Monday, February 1, 2016

Crossing the Line into Fanaticism

I tend to throw myself into everything I do.

For a time, I was really into gardening. I bought books, subscribed to magazines, and considered myself "a Gardener."

If only you could have seen the pitiful plots of haphazard flowers. I was so not a Gardener. A gardener--yes, but not a Gardener.

I threw myself into my health and wellness regimen and that actually panned out. Six months later, I'm still running--and even training for a 10K. I've lost weight, I eat healthy, and I keep my calorie count low.

But I only ran twice this week. And I had not one, but three deserts last night. And wine. I permitted it without guilt.

We all know people who are what we might consider a fanatic. An exercise freak, a health food nut, or even...(gasp) a religious fanatic--those "so heavenly minded that they're no earthly good."

So when does it become too much? Can you exercise too much? Yes. Can you eat too healthy? I'm not sure about that, but I believe that unless there are legitimate health concerns (like diabetes, lactose intolerance, celiac disease, etc) it is possible to easily cross that line into fanaticism.


I maintain a healthy diet, but if I'm invited into someone's home for lunch, I'm not going to whip out my protein bar and say, "Oh, just water, thanks. This is my lunch. I couldn't possibly exceed my calorie limit." THAT would be an example of fanaticism, not to mention rudeness. 

And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give. (Luke 10:7)

A writing friend recently mentioned that her son was visiting and she didn't get much writing done. I heard guilt in her voice, and told her that relationship is more important than writing.

Commitment to something is great, but we must find the balance between that thing and our relationships, lest we become fanatical.

I'm not saying that my friend is fanatical about her writing, but our thinking can become that way if we're not careful. God made us to be relational beings. Sometimes I need to take a pass on my writing, my exercise, my healthy eating, and yes...maybe even church...in order to spend time with a real person who matters more than my passion of the day.


People don't see the importance of those things in our lives like we do. They only see the rejection when we choose that thing over them. And if we are to emulate Jesus we must be willing to sacrifice our stuff for relationship. 

We must be willing to eat more calories at lunch than we typically would for the sake of listening to a friend share her heartache. 

We must be willing to forego the exercise regimen and realize that the muscle won't degenerate in two days for the sake of helping a neighbor in their time of need.

We must be willing to put the writing aside in order to spend time with our children.

Dare I say that we might also be willing to skip church in order to be with a family member who is angry at God because inviting them to church is sure to fail? 

I could be wrong, but it seems to me that the surest way to be labeled a fanatic is to disregard others, thinking only of ourselves---religious fanatics included. They may say that it's all about God, but anyone who discounts the feelings of others, disregards relationships, and chooses to live apart from this world is thinking purely of themselves. That's not how Jesus lived, and it isn't how He wants us to live either.

Spending time with God is important, yes. But if my desire to be close to God takes me to a place of only me all the time, something's wrong. My thinking has become distorted. We have been placed in this world for relationship--with God, but also with others. We cannot thrive without that love. 


So relax a little today--put the regimen aside if you have to. Pay attention to your surroundings. Listen to people. Be salt and light to others--even if it is at the expense of giving up your passion for the moment or for the day. Let someone else know that they matter more to you than your stuff does.


This is my commandment that you love one another, as I have loved you. 
John 15:12

Blessings Along the Path,
Mare 

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14 comments:

  1. Great post Mary. I can definitely see that there is a line between being disciplined and a fanatic. Being a fanatic is almost like prison because there is no freedom in the moment. There is definitely a nice middle ground somewhere! I like your point about being labeled a fanatic because of disregarding others, there is a lot of truth there! Thanks for your encouragement to day!

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    1. Thanks for your additional insight, Judy. I actually had an opportunity to decide whether or not to cross that line, which I think I'll share as another blog post later this week.

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  2. It truly all comes down to balance - letting God keep us centered in all things. Glad to have been neighbors this morning :)

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    1. Thanks for popping over for a visit, Joanne. Yes--balance, indeed.

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  3. I must confess that I also have tendency to make everything into something that it was never intended to be. Thanks be to God that we have a Savior.

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    1. Amen, sister! As so many others have said, it's all about balance, right?

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  4. I love this - "the surest way to be labeled a fanatic is to disregard others, thinking only of ourselves" - maybe, especially, because I've been on the receiving end of it. I wish I were more disciplined to do a 10K run. However, there are things I've been "fanatical" about - and I wish I had just eased the reins a bit - I think life would have been sweeter and the results better!

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    1. It's easy to get so into something that it's all we can think about--I suppose that becomes an obsession--and sometimes it can be good, but when we start hibernating from life over it, I think that's when it becomes fanatical. Thanks for your thoughts.

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  5. Such good balanced advice here, Mary. Fanatical has such a negative ring to it. Committed sounds so much better. :) Part of being all-in for God is knowing how to love the other people he's placed in our lives; it's how we love him too! You're right on point with this. Thanks for sharing your fanaticisms. :) We all have them at different times and in different areas.

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    1. Thanks, Lisa. If you get this response, I hope you'll tune in tomorrow when I share a funny story of my own discovery

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  6. I like the way you think. :-) Thanks for the post.

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  7. You are so right - particularly where our children are concerned. They do not care about my writing. They care that I am with them. My first responsibility during the day must be making myself available to them.

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  8. Great points! Balance is key in everything. I've never been a fanatic about anything, at least I don't think ;). The guy in the picture with the big bulging muscles...fanatic and gross. How do muscles get that big?! Definitely not by natural means :).

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