Betty talks about the importance of nurturing a healthy body, a serene mind, and a powerful spirit in our healing journey.
I think the thing that spoke to me louder than anything in this endeavor to change the way I was living my life—because it was not working—was a book that fell in my hands by a Swiss psychiatrist who was very, very, very interested in the healing of the person, the whole person. And there was something in that book, I think it was chapter four or so, that really caught my eye. He was talking about the integrated person and balance and that we are to have a healthy body, a serene mind, and a powerful spirit. As I read on, I’m holding myself out, viewing Betty Skinner at that time, because I am still very depressed, I still have a lot of work to do, but I have the desire and I’m trying to muster up the discipline. So he was telling me, and I’m believing that this is so, and I’m foolish enough to believe it, that each one of these disciplines has to be practiced separately and to trust God to integrate them, so I looked at my body, and I hadn’t exercised in forever because a good Christian woman has to take care of everybody else and they don’t ever have time to take care of themselves, so who has time to exercise? That went off right early on. Being depressed there was no peace of mind-there was no stillness in my mind at all-my mind was filled with guilt and fear and I couldn’t still it. I had a very difficult time. As I’m sure you know, your concentration goes, your appetite goes . . . I was retreating into spiritual books. That’s the only place I felt safe—and the world around me was falling apart. This was a tremendous awakening because I needed to put those books down, find my balance, make time to do the exercise and to diversify my interests—so that’s what I began to do. I put my shoes on and I began to walk around the lake. I picked up the telephone and I called Young Life; I called the church; I called everything I had to do with that involved spiritual stuff and I let it go. I was making time to do my work in an effort to move toward this wholeness and this balance that Tournier was saying is possible, but we have to do it. We have to do it. I had to do it. And now, it is imperative for you to understand that I am doing this without talking to anybody about it. This work is done very silently and privately between you and God. When I got ready to get up in the morning and put my tennis shoes on, I had to draw from Him the strength to be obedient to this teaching. That’s hard. Get up. Make up your bed. Put on your tennis shoes. We didn’t have running shoes much back then; all I had was one little pair of Tretorn tennis shoes, but at least I got out and started walking. Walk, walk, walk. Then I would come in and this is when I began to realize the value of my senses. This was an early beginning. I would take a shower, and I would feel the water. I am feeling the water. I am not rushing the shower. I am standing there very deliberately feeling the water—and when I finished walking, when I finished showering, I felt so much better. You can’t believe how much better I felt. Now I’m going to try to tackle a few daily tasks. It’s imperative in this healing process, to dare to go into areas that you’ve been rejecting because you don’t feel safe there. You feel these areas are full of fear. For me, being married to a very active man, I didn’t trust myself a lot of times to go with him, because my energy level was so low, and I was so fearful, that I would stay home and not make a choice to really do what I really should do and stayed home bound in fear. So I began to step out of that. My husband was a big Gator fan—big, big, big Gator fan. He went to the football games every Saturday, and that’s a long day, particularly when you are depressed and fearful. I was fearful I might not make it back home. I mean you are thinking of all this negative stuff and that just stops you, so I took a lesson in football. I figured if I could get interested in the game, at least I could persevere through the game and I could begin to participate in things that were frightening me, but things that he liked. Now this is going to be very healing to our relationship. When I am going to go with him, trust God in my going, and be a part of that scene. So this is the way I began truly, to diversify my interests. I let the spiritual aspect go for a good while and focused in on the healthy body and diversifying my interests.