Over the past several decades, the topic of wellness has been on the rise. We are re-evaluating what it means to be healthy and discovering the advantages of a more holistic approach to life. But in this digital age, sifting through all this information to discover how to be “well” can leave us quite confused. We have more resources than we know what to do with. To further complicate matters, many of these resources are contradictory.
At the same time, as attention to wellness has increased, the prevalence of diseases such as obesity and depression have increased as well. Digital technology disseminates information 24 hours a day. We have the knowledge. We have the resources. We have the connection. So why is there a disconnection between knowledge and action?
One key contributor to this phenomenon is the failure to clearly define wellness and therefore, the target is ever moving. With each new study, new evidence emerges, claiming to be the key for solving the health crisis. We do not have a clear vision and therefore, are left chasing a shifting target.
Secondly, discovering how to navigate this thing called wellness is overwhelming and we grasp onto one area that we “get.” As a result, we are left out of balance. It is easy to focus on one area while neglecting the others. Caring for the needs of your family may come naturally to you but it may be to the detriment of your own health. Or you may be well physically but if you are out of control emotionally, wellness cannot be cultivated. The point of balance is giving care and attention to all areas of life.
Thirdly, we fail to see wellness with a spiritual mind. Much of the idea of what I call “mainstream wellness” does have a spiritual component, not usually of Christian origin but of feelings and finding yourself. Even the secular world notices that wellness goes beyond the physical. Surely wellness means something more than being disease free, exercising daily or following a strict diet. We may be chasing something but do we even know what that something is? And come to think of it, what does wellness mean anyway?
At this point you may be feeling a bit discouraged and wondering how in the world we are to navigate wellness AND keep life in balance AND keep a spiritual mindset in this physical world. This is exactly where I want to begin today.
Right in the midst of questions and confusion is where God meets us. I believe we cannot be good stewards of our bodies and minds without first establishing deep roots in who God says we are. While the Bible does not provide specifics about diet and exercise, it does speak to who we are to our core and how we are to live in general. While this list touches only the surface of who God says we are, these truths will serve as a filter in the coming weeks as we renew our perspective of wellness.
We bear the image of God. From the very beginning, God told us that we were created in His image (Genesis 1:27). This is incredible! Mere human beings bear the image of God. This should be one of the core pillars for every decision we make. Our value no longer rides on the mirror or scale, the latest fad diet or gym membership, or even the way we feel about our health. He provides no if, ands, or buts. We were created in His image, and that makes us invaluable.
Be anxious for nothing. The primary stealer of peace is anxiety. Stress and anxiety go hand-in-hand and weaken our efforts towards living life well. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Peace-filled thoughts and emotions begin with giving all our cares to God.
True beauty comes from within. One common reason for making healthy choices is to improve our looks. Peter addresses outward appearance and apparel in 1 Peter 3:3-4. This passage is specifically speaking to women but the principles are transferable. “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” Beauty has little to do with physical appearance. And trying to pursue anything less than how God defines beauty will undermine any effort to achieve wellness.
Physical fitness is not the ultimate measure of health. 1 Timothy 4:8, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” Exercise is certainly important but there is something deeper than physical training. Physical activity is just one way to care for our bodies but should never be the measuring stick of good health.
Wellness includes the heart, soul, mind and strength. We are commanded to love God with all of our “heart, soul, mind and strength.” (Luke 12:30) This is it. This is what wellness is, loving and chasing God with every part of our being. Loving God from every aspect-from the physical to the spiritual-leads to maximum wellness. This supersedes circumstances that are out of our control. Diseases happen. Hurts happens. Life happens. But we can live well in the midst of all of this when our primary focus is loving God with everything we have.
When we begin to understand the enormous privilege of bearing God’s image, when we see ourselves as a whole person who was created to love God with everything we are and everything we do, wellness is redefined. Our sense of wellness no longer hinges on our latest action-whether positive or negative. We move from extremes to balance, from crazy to calm, from stress-filled to peace-filled.
Over the following 5 weeks we will dive into the topics of intentionality, simplicity, exercise, nutrition, and social media in relation to wellness. Each of these subjects will have more meaning now that we have a solid base. Stay rooted in who God says you are and you will begin to understand the real meaning of wellness.
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