Towards the end of 2021, I realised that looking after myself had dropped to the bottom of my to-do list. I knew that I needed to make adjustments in my daily schedule so that health could become a priority and not just an afterthought. I’m confident that we all have had good intentions at times without following through.
The Apostle Paul faced this too:
I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.Romans 7:18-20 (MSG)
It’s safe to say that the majority of us desire to be healthy and be our best selves, but the question is, is it just a good intention, or is it a conviction? Here’s the thing: good intentions are good, but typically they don’t result in action. Convictions, however, lead to action, and discipline leads to change.
You see, I have realised that looking after myself is not selfish. I believe that the best gift I can give those I rub shoulders with is a healthy me, and the best gift you can give to those you love is a healthy you! So, what does that look like?
1. Consider ALL of you
Healthy is an outfit that looks different on everybody.– Unknown
The world we live in has a way of associating health with a number on a scale, a diet, and how often you attend the gym. So misleading! While physical fitness is an essential aspect of health, it’s not the complete picture, nor is it defined by your size.
The Bible talks about how we are made up of spirit, soul and body. In other words, when assessing our health, we need to consider all aspects of who we are. The reality is that one person can have 0% body fat and be the picture of physical health, but they might struggle with low self-esteem, anxiety or depression. Another person might have worked hard to overcome life’s storms and are emotionally healthy, but their struggle is with a lack of discipline with exercise.
The trap we so often fall into is comparison. We look at what we consider our weakness and compare it with someone else’s strength, which is not fair and only makes us feel less than. The reality is that there is no correct answer for what healthy looks like, but the common denominator for all of us is the need to confront our good intentions and honestly evaluate where we are at – spirit, soul and body. Tell your inner critic to stop harassing you; celebrate your journey towards a healthier you!
2. Consider your heart’s attitude
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.
Proverbs 3:5-8 (NLT), bold emphasis added.
While I wish this passage meant that if we trust God, we can magically snap our fingers and want to exercise, only crave healthy foods, and experience miraculous healing every time we pray, that’s not what it says. If we want to get stronger or drop a few kilos, it requires discipline and hard work. We also live in a fallen world where sickness and disease exist, and while I will never understand why some get miraculously healed, and others don’t, I have realised that I am not called to understand God but to trust Him. Therefore, I will never stop asking.
To truly understand this passage, we need to look at the original text written in Hebrew. You see, directly translated, verse 8 would read something like: “it shall be health to your navel, and marrow to your bones”. Think of an unborn child in utero. The unborn child never eats a meal through the mouth; it is 100% sustained through the umbilical cord (the navel). What a beautiful metaphor; when we trust in God with all of our heart, He will sustain us through any and every season.
The following analogy is equally powerful. It talks about marrow, which is fluid in our bones. Dry bones are prone to break, but again, the beautiful imagery here declares that when we trust in the Lord, what comes against us will not break us because He will supply strength! In other words, these verses are not talking about our physical bodies but our spiritual health and stamina. The promise in these verses is a supernatural strength, peace and joy that only He can and will provide when we trust in Him.
So, let me ask you this: How’s your heart’s attitude? Do you trust Him?
3. Consider your body
While the passage in Proverbs refers to our spiritual health, in my experience, our spiritual health impacts our physical health, which impacts our emotional and mental health, which impacts our spiritual health and so on. While we are made up of spirit, soul and body, these are not three separate parts of our lives; they are interconnected.
When I am walking through a tough season, it impacts all of me – my trust, my joy, my level of anxiety, my sleep, my diet, my productivity. In the same way, when my spirit is healthy, when I trust in the Lord with all of my heart, it impacts my physical health. For example, my trust in God makes me less anxious, which helps me sleep more and make better choices such as saying no thank you to copious amounts of comfort foods. I believe we have been gifted with life in the bodies we are in, and we are, therefore, called to be good stewards of it. While the Bible does not provide us with an exercise plan, it talks a lot about discipline, and the New Testament is full of athletic metaphors. But can I be honest with you for a moment? I have never enjoyed exercising!
No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterwards, there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
Hebrews 12:11 (NLT)
Thank goodness that discipline has a reward. And no, I am not talking about the chocolate I sometimes reward myself with after a workout, but the physiological effects of moving our bodies. Regular physical activity improves our muscle and cardiovascular strength; it stimulates our body’s production of endorphins, which, simply put, makes us feel good. Not only that, exercise reduces the body’s stress hormones, which is why mental health professionals often encourage their clients to exercise. God’s creation is amazing!
So, let me ask you these questions:
- Are you giving your body the attention it deserves?
- Are you getting sufficient sleep?
- Are you drinking enough water?
- Are you moving every day in a way that increases your heart rate, even just a little?
What rings true for all of us is the need to confront our good intentions and honestly evaluate the condition of our spirit, soul and body. Remind yourself that you are beautiful, dare to be honest with yourself, and let’s celebrate every bit of progress as we journey towards a healthier version of ourselves!
By Nina Hyldgaard
The greatest honour and joy in Nina’s life is to be Phil’s wife (of ten years) and Lexi Hope’s mummy. Based in Copenhagen, Nina and her family are planted in Hillsong Church Denmark & Malmo. Nina is passionate about seeing people reach their full potential, both in her role as Regional Aftercare and Program Implementation Manager at A21 and in a local church context. She is an engaging writer and speaker who enjoys preaching and teaching the Word to anyone who wants to listen. Nina holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theological and Ministerial studies from Sydney College of Divinity, a Diploma of leadership from Hillsong International Leadership College, and a Graduate Certificate in Clinical and Pastoral Counselling Skills from Glasgow Caledonian University.