9:00 AM & 10:30 AM
4:00 PM & 5:30 PM
6:00 AM, 7:30 AM, 9:00 AM, 10:30 AM & 12:00 PM
$288. That's how much I spent on my gym membership last year. That may not seem like a ton, but how many times did I use it? Twice. Over the years, I've told myself, "If only I didn't have the upper arm strength of a 5-year-old." or "I wonder what it feels like to not have a chronic sniffle." or "Why does my stomach always feel gross after I eat?" I've been "adamant" about so many plans to change my habits. I planned to go to the gym twice a week, and I planned to eliminate certain things from my diet. I've finally realized this year that setting those metric goals will not help me succeed. What I need to focus on is my passion.
For many of us, our physical health is not something that excites us spiritually. Our reason for taking care of our bodies is to do the things we want to do; it's a means to an end. We want to feel good, accomplish things, and look attractive. But at the end of the day, those goals don't give us instant gratification, and we don't see them as part of our central purpose. Our jobs and our specific interests are the areas we prioritize in the present. We invest our free time in learning, social events, or physical activities with certain goals. When someone is super “health attentive,” that is usually seen as their "thing." The rest of us set our minds on our other gifts that we consider our callings. Yet we ignore a significant part of God's plan for us.
What consistent practices make you feel close to God? Reading scripture, praying, and other spiritual habits probably come to mind. Then we have other things that we call our "passions." Serving people, engaging in our skills, and sharing creatively fit in that category. Those are things we look forward to, and they give us fulfillment. They're the reasons we get up in the morning. We rarely feel that way about going to the doctor or eating a kale salad. That's why we need to examine our mindset rather than our achievements. Let's start with the why and then move on to the what.
You may have heard, "Your body is a temple," and thought, "Sure, but our souls are what really matters. Our bodies don't go into eternity." While that's true, and we need to care for our souls, our bodies are also a valuable creation by God. What if a genius engineer designed a one-of-a-kind computer and gave it to you? Wouldn't you be excited to maintain it and use it to the best of its ability? Our physical bodies have struggles and issues because of sin, but that doesn't discount the intricacy of God's design. There are so many tools in the world that we use to ignite our spirits, but we often take for granted the physical tools that enable us to do what we do. If we didn't have music, careers, travel, or academic knowledge, we would still have our bodies. Shouldn't we cherish that gift and embed it in how we honor God?
"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies." - 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
If the thought of going for a run doesn't excite you, join the club. It doesn't need to. Instead of telling yourself to stick to certain rules or habits, think about what does spark your passion. How does God speak to you, and how can you incorporate that into your mindset for your physical health? For example, yes, I want to get into a habit of going to the gym, but I'm giving myself another why: I like to listen to music to clear my thoughts and contemplate where God is leading me. Exercising gives me something somewhat mindless to do while my head is in that place. So that gives me the motivation to put on my leggings and hit the stair climber. I also seek a sense of peace from going out in nature and preparing my own food. I've realized that idea excites me because I feel closer to God's purpose when I give up all the added junk of the world, both food and otherwise. I want to stop eating microwave dinners and start getting more sunshine because that will help me strip away the "icky" feelings that distract me from God's presence.
There's no escaping the reality that our bodies affect everything we do, so I know I'll have more clarity when my body feels good. When I think about that, I feel passionate. And it's definitely a different kind of passion than I feel for extra fudge brownies, although I know those are a gift from God in their own way (in moderation). I want to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and I want to be able to open child-proof bottles by myself, but those long-term goals aren't enough to change my day-to-day routine. We do what we care about now. So what do you care about? How can you care for your body as a tool for that purpose today?
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.