The Corner of ‘Wholeness’ and Healthy
A popular pharmacy chain invites you to visit them “at the corner of happy and healthy.” Happy and healthy. We seem to be big on these two adjectives today, don’t we? Nothing wrong with that, per se, but might I propose a loftier pursuit, a more fulfilling intersection, perhaps—the corner of wholeness and healthy? If we want to see a higher quality of life on all levels, I believe our Maker designed us to pursue wholeness first…not happiness. Then, and only then, can we know what it is to be truly healthy.
One of our ministry’s core values is, in fact, Stay Healthy. But said another way, it is really a call to wholeness. The two concepts are inseparable. For some, being healthy might be interpreted as just one more call to getting in shape. If it’s not Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers, it’s LA Fitness or the Y reminding us that fitness (bordering on body worship) is quite in right now, if not downright chic. Add to that the pressure placed on us by insurance companies to stay (or get) healthy or pay big time, and suddenly we feel motivated. Their argument seems fairly plausible: if you choose to neglect or abuse your body, you should pay for the consequences. Unfortunately, though, it rarely stops there. No man is an island, and no one’s health is his own little problem. The recent Ebola virus, discoveries of the effects of second hand smoke, fetal alcohol syndrome, or the devastation of AIDS are but a few examples of what society learned long ago: my health issues can have serious consequences on you. And so far, we’re just talking about physical health, physical wholeness.
What about our soul—our mind, that inner part of us that makes up our personality and expresses our uniqueness. Anyone who has studied family systems knows how positive or negative the effects can be of one’s emotional environment in developing self-esteem, self-discipline, a sense of nurture, or the ability to love and care for others. The term dysfunctional family grew out of the awareness that God’s design is for individuals, families and communities to function in a proper, healthy way. To violate certain principles often leads to recycled un-health from generation to generation.
And as followers of Christ, we also recognize the role of our spiritual nature in transforming us to be more like our Maker. Tending to our spiritual needs, appetites and “muscles” is God’s way of helping us overcome the ravages of sin, bad habits, addictions and abuse, so that rather than hurting those around us, we actually can contribute to our family’s and community’s well-being.
Over 2,000 years ago, the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica (chapter 5, verse 23): “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The One who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” Getting healthy and whole is more than just keeping the body working properly. It includes pursuing emotional and spiritual “wellness” as well.
In this one little verse, Paul is packing a lot of truth. First, be reminded that you are the creative work of God Almighty, the God of peace, who desires to make you complete and set apart from those who do not know Him. Secondly, make every effort to attend equally to every part of you so that what you offer to God is the whole of you. And finally, it is ultimately God in you that will accomplish this; your role, your “effort” is simply to cooperate and agree with Him.
In each area that Paul mentions, spirit, soul (mind/emotion), and body, God has given us ways to recharge those batteries when they are running low. But we must recognize the signs. Sometimes we assume our weariness is just from overall stress, when in fact it might be little more than a physical need for more rest or exercise. Maybe we need to learn to say no to certain things, and ask God’s spirit to direct us if and when to say, “Sorry, I can’t do that.”
If you find yourself emotionally spent by giving out to others in care and compassion, don’t forget to recharge your emotional batteries with activities which energize you (reading a book, attending the symphony, going to a high school football game, etc.) In other words, don’t forget to have some fun.
And if you sense you are growing weaker spiritually, take inventory of how much time you are allowing with God in your day. If that time is becoming less and less frequent, set your alarm 15 minutes earlier and start back with baby steps. Or be more intentional in carrying on a conversation with him throughout the day—while driving your car, raking your lawn, or walking for exercise. He certainly will meet you wherever you show up, just do it.
Since no man is an island, it is equally important that you know God designed your pursuit of wholeness and health to be experienced in community—with support, accountability, and encouragement from others. Let me assure you that regardless of where you find yourself, I and the pastoral staff of Hope want to be here for you. Your gift to us can be to care for yourselves—your bodies, souls and spirits, by the power of God’s spirit. The inevitable crises will come—we are human and we live in a fallen world. But maybe, just maybe, we can reduce their frequency and severity by each of us staying healthy. Want to prosper in all you do? Check out the corner of wholeness and healthy.