“A vital person is someone whose aliveness and spirit are expressed not only in personal productivity and activity—such individuals often infectiously energize those with whom they come into contact”
–Chris Peterson & Martin Seligman, Character Strengths and Virtues
When our mad brood of five children descended on my grandparents’ two-bedroom home for a visit during one of our many transitions as a military family, we stirred things up. Their normally quiet routine as a retired-Navy couple was completely upended by our raucous noise as we raced through their small house. Grandpa used to say we were full of vim, vigor, and vitality. I think what he actually meant—but was too kind to say—was that we were full of spit and vinegar!
There’s a lovely symmetry to my Grandpa’s words. Today, the whole vim-vigor-vitality phrase is hardly ever used; we just say someone is full of vitality. Vita, from the Latin for life.
Vitality isn’t just related to our personal productivity, level of busyness, or even to our physical health. While those are certainly components of it, vitality is also related to our growing connectedness to God, to ourselves, and others. Vitality is spiritual, relational, emotional, and physical.
We know from hundreds of studies, across many disciplines, that an important factor of vitality is social connection. Is it any wonder, then, that many people are feeling a loss of vitality in these COVID-19 days? Social connectedness is limited for most and non-existent for others. A few, like healthcare workers, are inundated with people, but without the intimate connection that brings a sense of life. And in the midst of this lack of relational connection, we can find ourselves feeling lethargic and dull. Without vim, vigor, or vitality.
As you look back over the past few days’ reflections—identifying all the losses, sorrows, and griefs you are experiencing in this season—can you add loss of vitality to your list?
ACTION: Where do you notice loss of vitality most in your life right now? Read 2 Corinthians 4:8-10. Which of those words describes the condition of your vitality today? Hard-pressed? Perplexed? Struck-down? Where do you see the life—the vita—of Christ manifest in your life, even in this season? Take a moment to express your gratitude for those places you can identify the vitality of Christ in your life. And how might you, through the life of Christ in you, stir up vitality in another today (Hebrews 10:24-25)?