praying womanI’m a God-fearing man. I hold deep religious convictions and belief in God. I have held these beliefs since a very early age and I do my best to live by the tenets of my faith even today as a worn out, jaded Christian. I am not perfect, as anyone in my family, any number of friends and most of those who call me their enemy can attest. Each day I strive to be better, to live better because it is all I can do.

I admire people of all faiths even though there are times when I find their passion and fervor to be alarming at sometimes, refreshing other times. Everyone has beliefs. Even people who make fun of people with principles have a set of their own beliefs –they believe that making fun of people with beliefs is entertaining. That’s a belief, right? But this story out of Philadelphia is baffling, heartbreaking and completely discouraging for those of us who believe in a loving, compassionate God. It serves as an example of how religious extremism often minimizes our ability to be humans and our capacity to draw on common sense. How can a person deny the basic necessities, medical assistance and medication to a child who is in obvious need?

And what about the extremes to which the alleged Boston bombers took their beliefs when they subjected innocent lives to bodily harm and death? When does a person decide that the basic tenets of their faith are not enough and that excessive measures are required in order to prove beyond doubt that they have absolute faith? I can’t understand because I honestly have not been in this type of a situation in my life. I have been passionate about things in my life – I still am today. But I have never allowed my fervor to cause me to abandon civility and I have definitely not caused death nor harm to others because of those passions.

The English are credited with the proverb, “In all things moderation and moderation in all things,” which loosely relates to both what we take as well as what we give. From my personal perspective, spirituality blossoms when we accept the word of God and it further flourishes when we share it with others. I believe that our spiritual, mental and physical health is achieved when we can find a healthy balance. In other words, it would be hard to function in the world if you have limited knowledge of and exposure to secular things. Your body cannot thrive and be healthy if you consume large quantities of unhealthy food on a regular basis (trust me I’ve tested this theory). Additionally, your spirituality will be stifled if your heart and soul are impenetrable to the characteristics of love and service towards others.

How do we realize a healthy balance? Perhaps the most likely component of achieving balance in our lives is temperance. Temperance can be applied in all aspects of our life not just in spiritual things. Just the other day I nearly ate myself into a coma. Even while I was consuming copious amounts of food my belly and brain were pleading with me to stop and that I was going to feel horrible for doing it. And yet I continued until I was too sick to lift another spoonful of food to my lips. Had I practiced a bit of restraint and listened to what my body and mind were communicating to me rather than adhering to the constant temptation of my taste buds I would have felt much better and probably would have felt good enough to eat another time. As it turned out, I had no desire to eat again for another 24-hours.

The world is full of zeal and enthusiasm to believe in a cause in all of its various shapes, forms and dogmas. Love them or hate them people with personal convictions be it spiritual, metaphysical, abstract or even physical they are here to stay. The only thing we can change is the way that we live our lives and I choose to live mine with a healthy balance of everything that makes me sane and somewhat pleasing to be around – a love of my family, a fierce loyalty to my friends and a desire to serve God and my fellow man. Hmm…Maybe I’m an extremist too?