Language is funny. The same word, even used in a similar way, can evoke a very different meaning. If I say the word “dressing” you probably start thinking about blue cheese or Italian or French. Yet for some of you, the word “dressing” evokes images of a valance or swag or floor length curtain panels. While obviously different, there is a similarity in use: the principal object (main thing) is the salad or the window, but what we add to it—put on it or around it—is considered the “dressing.”

It’s not only in eating salads or decorating windows that we deal with the principal object and the “add on.” In our lives, we have the things that are most important, the most crucial, and the things that we know we can do without—the optional, the extra. Where I think we are often mistaken, though, is which ones are which. It is easier than we think to have things switched around thus treating the most important, foundational aspects of our lives as the “dressing” and the things that are actually the “dressing” as the most important.

I think our Faith is one of these things that we often confuse. When asked what the most important aspects of our lives are, most of us would include the practice of our Faith. Likewise, if I asked under which category we place our hobbies, few of us would say those are among the principal aspects of our lives. And maybe we’re right. Or, just maybe, we are wrong. Maybe the things that we think are least important to us get more of our attention and vice-versa. How do we know where our real priorities lie? One of the clearest ways to distinguish myth from reality is to look at the facts. So, let’s look at the facts.

Pick something in your life that you would consider a favorite hobby. It could be the practice of a sport, watching television, reading enjoyable books. Next, pick a period of time, say the last week or the last month. Then calculate the amount of resources you’ve dedicated towards that hobby: the amount of money spent, the amount of energy exerted, and perhaps most importantly, the amount of time dedicated. Next, do the same exercise with the practice of your Faith: consider time spent going to services, saying prayers, reading the Bible or other spiritual books, and the living out of your life in service to the needy. We might think we know “window” from “dressing” but laying out the facts gives us a much bigger picture of the reality of our lives.

Thankfully, the Christian life is based on our ability to change. Repentance is the Christian life, and the Christian life is a life of repentance. So the good news is we can change, and as long as we have breath in our lungs, we have that opportunity.

Perhaps more than any other season, summer is a time of things slowing down, even if only a little. Let’s all take a little of that time to consider the reality of our life and come to an accurate assessment of just what comprises the “salad” or “window” of our life and what is the dressing. If we discover we’ve had those confused, let’s be thankful for the realization, then reset where our valuable resources of energy, time, and money are spent. Because well-dressed windows are beautiful to look through. Well-dressed salads are a delight to eat.  And a life where faith is practiced as the substance of one’s life and not as an added-on feature is a life worth living.