Day 5: "Walking barefoot 'grounds' us on earth."

We imagine him as an unusually bright little boy, and surely he was,
 but that doesn't mean Jesus was somehow supernaturally potty-trained as a toddler.

-From Ch. 5 ("Bluntly Put") of Jesus Journey

As I read chapter five of my son's book Jesus Journey, laughing and reflecting on the fun and clamor of grandchildren and children in general, I thought about how the character of God so shines though.  Able to hang the stars in place, He could have created a different system of how to live here on earth.  Yet, Creator-God designed babies so that they have to be taken care of—they can’t do it for themselves. 

It is in this “caring for” that our bodies produce certain neurotransmitters that are so necessary for our own well-being. 

So, you may be wondering, what are neurotransmitters?  Basically, neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that transmit essential messages throughout our bodies: telling our lungs to breathe and our heart to beat, and also affecting things like mental wellness, sleep patterns, concentration, etc.

Incredibly, the effect of neurotransmitters is even at work in the animal world.  On our little ten-acre farm where we raise sheep and goats (Yes, the Sheppards really are shepherds!), our new mothers instinctively know to clean their newborns, licking them all over, nuzzling them, pushing them towards their milk bags. The baby lambs and kids know their mother’s voice immediately upon birth and respond to that voice. 

However, if for some reason the mother can’t nurse a new lamb,  we have to bottle-feed that little one.  Within a few days, the lamb is responding to us and running for their bottle and a human nuzzle.  Such lambs, even after they are weaned and in the pasture, still know us.  While all of our sheep “know our voice”, not all of the sheep “know us.”  Those gently and lovingly fed and cared for, however, will always come to us, expecting extra grain or a pat.

Their neurotransmitters, just like ours, respond to being cared-for. How carefully and brilliantly our Creator determined how best humans should live.

In the ponder/pray/practice section of chapter five, Trent suggests a "brief walk" as one way to practice the principles of this chapter.  Our bodies are designed to live in nature as a part of the incredible world and atmosphere that God created.  We were not designed for the tech-centric, computer-centered, screen-drenched, "positive ion" world that most of us live in daily. 

One would think that “positive ions” would be a good thing, but unfortunately they are not.  We naturally have “negative ions” and thus, negative energy, just as nature does.  And a “brief walk” outside in the forest, or even just outside in the sunshine or rain, recharges essential negative ions in our body.  This is one of the reasons why after you have been in the “tech” world for hours you feel so listless and feel like you have to get some fresh air.  That’s your body saying, “Help, you have overloaded me with positive ions. Recharge me!” 

If you can take that “brief walk” outside barefoot, even better! Think of it like this: We are living on a spinning ball, and while we learn to walk upright balancing on that ball, walking barefoot “grounds” us on earth, connecting us even more to the earth’s refreshing elements. 

Know that wonderful smell after the rain?  Or that wonderful feeling when you are outside just after the earth has been soaked in a spring downpour?  That’s nature doing nature’s job, not just for the earth, but for all of us—replenishing the planet, and replenishing its people.

A perfect plan for imperfect people.

Often times we cast away the wisdom of Biblical tradition, considering it irrelevant for the time in which we live.  However, in my seventy four years of living, I am discovering more and more that God's way is the best way, not just for my happiness, but also for my emotional, physical, and mental well-being. 

God's sleep-rhythms-for-humanity, eat-the-way-nature-grows-it, and respond-with-forgiveness-and-love way of living, not only produces contentment, it actually improves my body, and especially, my mind. So, if possible today, extend that “brief walk” into a long stroll and offer your mind the opportunity to understand more and more about how God designed us to live—neurotransmitters and all. 

Because "sometimes, the best thing for your spirit is to do something with your body, like taking a brief walk outside when you're feeling heavy in heart." (Jesus Journey, pg. 53)

Let's do this together, Lord. You lead—I follow.

Today's guest post is by Jacquelyn Sheppard—my remarkable, loving, and brilliant mother!  Her extraordinary book, Silent Takeover, is an important and genuinely insightful guidebook for freedom: "Jacquelyn Sheppard is the mother of three children who continue to amaze her and fill her with awe, even as they did when they were small.  All married now to amazing mates, she is the grandmother of eight amazing and awe-inspiring grandchildren. She lives with her husband, Glenn, on a small ten-acre farm where they raise sheep and goats, and spoil their grandchildren. Jacquelyn is the author of Silent Takeover: How the Body Hijacks the Mind—a book filled with fifty years of research and experience that unravels physiological reasons behind mental, emotional, and addictive disorders."

Photo credits: "nativity"—Stephanie Pekrul / "sheep" & "running with sheep"—Chelsea Hudson