I feel like a hypocrite writing this post and this series called #WellnessWeek. In some ways, I couldn’t be any less qualified to write about honoring God with your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) since I have struggled with this my entire life. On the other hand, because I have a long history with this battle, I have a lot of experience and credibility of wrestling with this sin struggle.
Welcome to Part 2 of a series on wellness. Every day this week I am writing about some aspect of wellness and how we can honor God with our bodies. While Part 1 was an overview, today I want to dive into four obstacles we face while trying to improve our wellness: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
I know I’ve been writing a lot recently about eating, exercise and physical wellness, but it’s where the Lord has me these days. Plus I do believe that every lesson I am learning about wellness applies to all areas of life, regardless of whether you share the same struggles as me. There are implications for this battle for wellness that affect every relationship in our lives, so again, the application is for all of us.
The Thorn in My Flesh
I continue to learn that my battle with eating, exercise and stewarding my body is my thorn in the flesh as Paul refers to in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. I have begged the Lord to take this away from me, but for whatever reason, He chooses to keep it in my life.
- In my lesser moments, it exhausts me and causes me to question God’s love for me. I lose trust and shake my fists at God.
- In my finer moments, I know it keeps me 100% dependent on the Lord, and I embrace this battle as evidence of His deep love for me. I can trust Him and I know He loves me and desires intimacy with me.
- Most days it’s somewhere in between – a battle for my heart that still keeps me both frustrated and dependent.
Last week in my WELL workout group, one of our coaches shared about how God wants us to grow in our wellness journey. God desires we grow physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. He desires that we honor Him with our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) since we have been bought at a high price. He desires that we live with contentment (Philippians 4:11-13) and He longs for us to think rightly about Him and about our bodies (Philippians 4:8) since He is the one who created them (Psalm 139).
I want to camp out here for a minute. As I workout, I realize how much my thought life does not honor the Lord. For many people this might manifest itself in thinking lustful thoughts about others or with pride and body image obsession. Those are all normal (yet sinful) battles people face when they work out. For me, it’s a different sin struggle with my thoughts. It’s a battle for my mind and the negative thoughts that run through my brain.
In Philippians 4:8, Paul writes,
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
When I workout, I say things to myself that I would NEVER say to anyone else. I call myself fat, lazy, useless, worthless, slow and more. Usually these words run through my head, but sometimes I’ll even say them aloud (and might even yell them out). I’m grieved at my thoughts and my words. I’d never call another human being fat, lazy or worthless. But yet, for some reason, these are the thoughts that run through my head and sometimes are uttered through my lips.
So for me, the battle is more mental than anything else. Some days, it’s worse spiritually (the sin I exhibit in my anger), emotionally (the desire to quit or give up) and physically (challenging my body to keep up with the demands of the workout), but most days it’s mental for me.
How about you? Where is your battle when it comes to wellness? Which obstacles most inhibit your growth?
- Is it mental?
- What thoughts run through your mind and come out of your mouth? Today I want to focus on the words you say or think about yourself. I’m not trying to promote some kind of self-help, ‘think positive thoughts’ vibe here, but I want you to apply Philippians 4:8 to your own life. I want you to live out Ephesians 4:29, which says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
- Is it emotional?
- Sometimes I don’t feel like working out. It’s hard work and I’d rather sit on the couch than work hard. I’d rather eat than exercise. I’d rather talk than sweat. When I work out with others, I don’t want to have to deal with being the slow one and feeling sorry for myself. This battle is so much more emotional than we realize.
- For me, most of the time this means that I am being prideful and/or selfish. God calls those things sinful, and we need to choose to be humble and selfless and take the steps we need to take to deny ourselves and honor God with our bodies even when we don’t feel like it.
- Is it spiritual?
- For years I allowed 1 Timothy 4:7-8 to lead me to believe that as long as I read my Bible and prayed, that I wouldn’t need to workout or take care of my body. Paul writes, “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” I placed the spiritual higher than the physical and in the process chose to neglect my body.
- Is it physical?
- I know for many, the desire may be there, but the body is weak, in pain or injured. What is something you can do today to take some ground? Even if it’s something small like walking a few blocks or swimming a few laps. What’s something you can do or one small step you can take today to improve your physical wellness?
If you’re like me, it’s all the above: mental, emotional, spiritual and physical. I’d even throw in a fifth obstacle: social. We need others to help push us along and encourage us in the battle.
I know I need to transform my mind and learn to take my bad thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), renew my mind (Romans 12:2) and remember to think rightly about myself (Philippians 4:8) instead of the negative thoughts that run through my brain.
Today I hope you can identify one of these four aspects of wellness and resolve to fight the lies and choose to grow.
Which is the biggest obstacle you face?