I made a comment on another blog I was a bit wary about. I dared question whether or not it is wise for everyone to jump right in and do the Ninevah90 program.
The response I received was actually not what I expected. I expected to hear why everyone should be able to do it, and that not embracing it fully is a sign of weakness, which is all the more reason why you should do it. But I received a lot of agreement.
Basically, what I said about it is that everything there is good. I have no issues with anyone doing it. But it’s also a LOT. Depending on where a person is in their spiritual journey, it could be utterly overwhelming, and perhaps even counterproductive, to try and do it all. We humans are fickle creatures, and some have a tendency to become demoralized and give up on the whole thing if we fail to do every last thing. I suggested that, at least for some, it may be a wiser course to stretch yourself, but still make the additional devotions, prayers, and activities achievable.
I was happy I received such agreement in one respect, but then I got nervous about whether or not i was just encouraging an attitude of copping out…
The following is a follow-up comment I made, that I thought I’d reproduce here.
“I wanted to make sure I clarify my comment a bit. I guess I’m just a strong believer in proper balance. And I think we all get out of balance at times one way or the other and need to constantly self-correct.
In no way am I saying that nobody can take on the full Ninevah90 program. Nor am I saying one should easily or simply dismiss it because “it’s too hard.” Nor am I saying that we shouldn’t constantly challenge ourselves to do more than we are currently doing… to take that “Next Right Step” in our spiritual growth.
What I am saying is that we are all in different places on our spiritual journey, and we all have different responsibilities in life that we cannot disregard or replace with another time consuming activity, whether it is a holy one or not.
As an example, a friend of mine – a wonderful and committed Catholic – at one point in his spiritual life thought it was a good idea to try and do everything he read that other saints did. And he was demanding his family do the same. All were good things in and of themselves, but the sheer volume of things he was doing, and in turn asking his family to do, became a real stress and caused problems in the family: Hours of adoration, hours of volunteering, hours of prayer, attending this function and that function… My observation was that I thought I fostered a better relationship with my kids and family by simply being at home and talking with them or playing a game with them. Yes, we also incorporate prayer and other spiritual devotions into family life, and I am not saying we can’t do more – we certainly can. But he was not in balance, and I could imagine even the good Lord was saying “the saint you are trying to emulate was single and a monk. You can’t do what he did – go spend time with your family.”
The Ninevah90 thing is very good, and it’s a great challenge to take upon ourselves what we can handle, and perhaps that one thing more that we feel we may need to help have God lift us up to accomplish it. That’s the next step. But if one tries to leap over a tall building in a single bound from where they are now, there is a risk that you end up a spot on the sidewalk.
I’ve already seen someone on my Facebook page lament that already on Day 3 of the program, he is undergoing a lot of spiritual warfare. I have no idea what that means, and it may very well be a true statement, but I couldn’t help but think “or maybe you just took on too much.” If he’s truly being attacked in unforeseen ways, he needs my prayers. If his view of spiritual warfare is that he doesn’t have enough time in the day to fit everything in, then I’m afraid no amount of prayer will create additional minutes for him. But hey, I could be wrong.”
I’m reminded of some of the criticisms about Catholics by some other Christians about “piling up words.” While this criticism is usually in response to devotional prayers, such as the Rosary, and is completely unfounded, there is nevertheless a risk that some people just believe that piling up devotion after devotion after devotion makes them more holy. We risk getting out of balance. The proper perspective of any devotion is that we are in a relationship with God, that we are participating in the work of salvation that He alone made possible, and that we are being His hands and feet to the world around us. If we just do a bunch of stuff in order to satisfy all the daily requirements of a program and somehow think we’re now a better person for it… well, there may be some truth to that in terms of a better understanding that you can do more, and forming good habits. But it could also become this obsessive action that erroneously leads to a belief that you’re working your way to heaven.
So, whatever you do, make sure your life is in balance, and make sure you know why you are doing it and why this is an important thing.