Choosing the road to life and wellness

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.

For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14, ESV
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

The Road Not Taken

This scripture from the Bible book Matthew reminds me of the famous poem by Robert Frost. The late poet Robert Frost won four Pulitzer Prizes for poetry; his work is among the most widely read and often quoted poetry to this day. Listen to it here if you don’t remember it.

“The Road Not Taken” was originally published in The Atlantic in 1915 along with two other poems from Frost. It is now widely considered to be one of the most popular works of American literature.

“Its signature phrases have become so ubiquitous, so much a part of everything from coffee mugs to refrigerator magnets to graduation speeches, that it’s almost possible to forget the poem is actually a poem. “The Road Not Taken” has been used in advertisements for Mentos, Nicorette, the multibillion-dollar insurance company AIG, and the job-search Web site Monster.com, which deployed the poem during Super Bowl XXXIV to great success.”

What does the poem mean?

The poem’s meaning has been extensively dissected, discussed, and debated; most assign a deep meaning about life, choices, regrets, what-ifs, etc.

(This and several others in this post are affiliate links, meaning I earn a commission to fund this blog if you make a purchase through it.)

So I was surprised to read that Frost himself didn’t take the poem nearly as seriously as everyone else has. He claimed that he wrote it as a joke for a friend.

At poetryfoundation.org , Katherine Robinson wrote,

“Soon after writing the poem in 1915, Frost griped to Edward Thomas that he had read the poem to an audience of college students and that it had been “taken pretty seriously … despite doing my best to make it obvious by my manner that I was fooling. … Mea culpa.” However, Frost liked to quip, “I’m never more serious than when joking.”

As his joke unfolds, Frost creates a multiplicity of meanings, never quite allowing one to supplant the other. When Frost sent the poem to Thomas, Thomas initially failed to realize that the poem was (mockingly) about him. Instead, he believed it was a serious reflection on the need for decisive action. (He would not be alone in that assessment.) “

What did Jesus mean in Matthew 7?

This scripture is part of the Sermon on the Mount attributed to Jesus (I’ve written other posts about these verses from Matthew chapters 5-7.) It also is widely known and quoted, as well as other verses like the Golden Rule, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Beatitudes.

The overall message of the Sermon is anything but a joke; Jesus makes bold and daring statements in this passage, which explains why it is so widely quoted and taught on. One famous preacher, Oswald Chambers used it often enough that his wife included several selections when she published a collection of his sermons as a daily devotional know as My Utmost for His Highest.

In a devotional titled “All Noble Things are Difficult” for July 7th, he wrote

“The Christian life is gloriously difficult, but the difficulty of it does not make us faint and cave in, it rouses us up to overcome.

God’s grace turns out men and women with a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ, not milksops.”

It is always necessary to make an effort to be noble.”

Oswald Chambers

“Milksops. That’s not a word I hear often, I even looked it up and it means exactly what it sounds like. What happens when you dip bread into milk? It gets soggy and falls apart. So a milksop is ” a person who is indecisive and lacks courage.

Choices, choices, choices

So despite Frost’s assertion that his poem was a joke, multiple commentaries dissect it extensively and assign all kinds of meaning to it, suggesting that we do believe that our choices matter in everything, whether relationships, finances, education, or health.

Doctors and other health professionals now believe that lifestyle is one of the chief determinants of health and emphasize preventing and even treating illness with nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, sleep, healthy habits, and stress management.

Consider the Foundation

Whether you’re building a house, a career, a family, or your health, what you build on matters too. Jesus concluded his sermon with a building lesson.

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 

 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.

 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 

 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Matthew 7:24-27, ESV

Reading these verses reminds me of the rain storms we endured in Oklahoma this past spring leading to extensive flooding with loss of homes and businesses; other parts of the country suffered the same, and now we’re watching coastal areas deal with devastating hurricanes. Once built, we’re pretty helpless to defend our property against the ravages of nature. That doesn’t have to be the case with our health if we build well.

The Legacy of Oswald and Biddy Chambers

Here’s the story of Oswald Chambers and his wife Biddy. After his death, she collected writings from his lectures and talks into books and the well known devotional mentioned above. In the introduction she wrote,

it is sent out with the prayer that day by day the messages may continue to bring the life and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

 

Biddy Chambers

exploring faith, hope, and love

Thanks for joining me to explore poetry and scripture; my hope is that this prompts you to further explore on your own. Here are some other posts from this series

How to satisfy hunger and thirst

Opportunities to do good

Living and giving lavishly

Why pray The Lord’s Prayer

5 lessons I learned when the lights went out

 

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

Faith, Love, Hope

Learn more about Lifestyle Medicine from Baylor College of Medicine

“Lifestyle medicine (LM) involves the use of evidence-based therapeutic approaches, such as a predominantly whole food, plant-based diet, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, stress management, and avoidance of risky substance use, to prevent, treat, and, oftentimes, reverse the chronic disease that’s all too prevalent,”

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What women doctors want you to know about healthcare

September is Women in Medicine Month, so in this post I’m introducing you to some women physicians who promote health in creative ways-writing, speaking, coaching, and advocating.

At Dr. Momma Says, Dr. Deborah Burton, pediatric ENT surgeon reviews her reasons for recommending vaccination.

“The growing antivaccination (anti-vax) movement has me confused.  I think it is a developed world thing to celebrate where we are, but we forget where we came from.

As an ENT surgeon who has studied and worked in the healthcare field for about 30 years, I have borne witness to the miracles that vaccines have done. There is no question in my mind that vaccines work.” She goes on to describe

MY AUTHENTIC 30 YEAR JOURNEY REVEALING SPECTACULAR WAYS THAT VACCINES WORK

Recommended Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule
2019 Recommended Vaccinations for children and adolescents

Psychiatrist Dr. Melissa Welby writes

“Anxiety is a treatable condition. Depending on the intensity, some people can get better on their own and others need therapy and/or medications to help with anxiety. Either way, recovering from anxiety is possible! There are great self-help options available to assist with the treatment of anxiety which includes websites, apps, and books on overcoming anxiety.” Find her list at this post-

48 Resources to Overcome Anxiety for Adults and Children

From Charmaine Gregory, M.D., an ER doctor and fitness coach blogs at Fervently Fit with Charmaine with nutrition and fitness tips.

“Trips to the grocery store are almost as crucial as trips to work. We all need to eat. Some people have stress when they try and go in without a plan. Creating a routine is a good step. Following a few helpful hints can make your shopping easier on you.” Read her tips at

Quick Tips for Easier Grocery Shopping

a basket filled with fruits and vegetables
Will you commit to buying, preparing, and eating more fruits and vegetables? image from LIGHTSTOCK.COM, stock photo site, an affiliate

Dr. Aletha Maybank , a pediatrician, served as deputy commissioner for the New York City health department and now is the first chief health equity officer for the American Medical Association. She believes

Good Health Goes Beyond Having a Doctor and Insurance

“Health is created outside of the walls of the doctor’s office and at the hospital. What are patients’ jobs and employment like? The kind of education they have. Income. Their ability to build wealth. All of these are conditions that impact health. “

(And I’m thrilled that Dr. Maybank and I share our first name.)

The Frugal Physician, Dr. D. writes about finances, specifically how to live debt free. Her main audience is other physicians but she offers advice to patients too.

“Take note of the deductible for your plan and whether your employer chips in. High deductible plans can be alluring because of their low cost and the option to enroll in a Health Savings Account (HSA).  But, if you sign up for one of those, make sure you have the cash to spend the deductible during the year. ” Read the other 9 tips at this link-

10 Ways to Maximize your Doctor’s Visit

a woman in white coat with mask over mouth
Know your health history and medications.

Dr. Eileen Sprys is a family physician who wants you to know

When you have a cold, why I’m not giving you an antibiotic

“I want you to know that as a physician, I feel a pang of insecurity, guilt, and sadness when a patient tells me they’re upset because I won’t write an antibiotic.  I don’t want you to be sick or miserable.

I understand how inconvenient and sometimes life altering a cold can be. I desperately, desperately wish that I had a cure for your cold, but none of us do.

I also want you to know that for every antibiotic I over-prescribe, that I run the unnecessary risk of making someone even more sick, even to the point of hospitalization or death. I went into medicine to help you and to relieve your suffering with integrity — and that by giving you antibiotics without indication, I am betraying my own purpose.”

six-facts-graphic

Emergency medicine physician K. Kay Moody, M.D. wants you to know she is not a “provider” (and neither am I).

“Hi, my name is Dr Moody and I’m NOT a “provider.”

.

Here’s why your doctor isn’t your “provider”.

“The term “provider” levels distinctions and implies a uniformity of expertise and knowledge among health care professionals. The term diminishes those distinctions worthy of differentiation such as education, scope and range of ability.

Generic terminology implies an interchangeability of skills that is inappropriate and erroneous, as well as conferring legitimacy on the provision of health services by non-physician providers that are best performed by, or under the supervision of, physicians.”

position of the American Academy of Family Physicians

a nametag reading ALETHA OGLESBY, M.D.

Women physicians are sharing the HEART of health

I appreciate my female colleagues who share their knowledge and experience through writing in addition to caring for patients. I am honored to share their insights here.

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

Dr. Aletha