I didn’t expect my journey to become a more restful person to start with trying to lose weight after our third child was born. Losing weight is not inherently a restful goal. I envisioned that becoming more restful would help me kick my feet up, not get them going.
All that I had to do was drop the last five lingering pounds of pregnancy weight. It felt inconceivable not to be able to tackle this seemingly small goal. I was capable of training my body to run three marathons (one in less than four hours) and hiking from the rim of the Grand Canyon to the river and back in the same day — something you’re highly warned against doing. While I accomplished those before having kids, staying active through three pregnancies was not a small feat. Pelvic girdle pain sent me to the physical therapist’s office with my second and third pregnancies. The pain took away all of my usual options for staying fit, so I learned to adapt. But whatever the challenge, I found a way to overcome it.
But, there it was: five pounds standing in the way of what I thought would make me “whole” again – whatever “whole” meant. Five measly* pounds. I had already lost most of the weight I had gained with pregnancy. Why was the scale so stuck? Better yet, why was I?
I needed to dig into what was underneath my growing obsession with dropping these pounds. Did my weight even matter? What priority should this goal have in my life? Should it even be a goal? What would I think of myself if I never got back to my previous weight? Why hadn’t I paused to consider what God thought? How did my physical health even matter in the grand scheme of things?
3 REASONS OUR PHYSICAL HEALTH MATTERS
It’s easy to understand why our physical health matters when trying to reach exercise, nutrition, and even sleep goals. For example, it’s easier to run a faster marathon when eating healthy food, getting enough sleep, and logging our training miles. Why else does our physical health matter?
1. OUR BODY IS A TEMPLE OF GOD.
Before Jesus came and left us with the Holy Spirit, God was present with his people differently. God using a burning bush to speak to Moses may be an example that comes to mind. In the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant was the most significant symbol of faith and God’s presence to the Israelites. There were explicit instructions for building, caring for, and even carrying it. Anyone who touched it directly, even accidentally, would die (which is what happened to Uzzah in 2 Samuel 6).
God made it clear that caring for His temple was imperative. We, believers, are also His temple, as the Holy Spirit lives inside us (1 Cor 6:19-20, 1 Cor 3:16-17). Therefore, just like with the Ark of the Covenant, we are to take care of the body God gave us to the best of our ability and follow his instructions for doing so.
2. OUR BODY ALLOWS US TO DO HIS WORK.
Running a business, managing a household, leading a ministry, caring for and teaching children, and being a good spouse, parent, and friend all have one thing in common: they take energy. Being physically healthy is one of the best ways of finding that energy. We cannot function long-term on four hours of sleep, soy lattes, and sugary foods alone. Our bodies require proper fuel and rest to be at their best to do the work He has planned for us.
Since Old Testament times, God always expected the best from his people. Offering animal sacrifices was an essential part of worship then. God gave precise guidelines on which type of animal they should use and how they should offer it. In most cases, they should select the purest, most unblemished animals – God expected their best. He expects the same from us today in how we use our bodies:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.Romans 12:1 NIV
Spending our limited energy on doing His will is how we can properly worship God. And when we do, we should want to bring our best!
When our body is failing
Sometimes a well-functioning body isn’t the hand we’ve been dealt. It’s humbling when we cannot fix, heal, or cure ourselves of ailments, disabilities, or diseases. It can prevent us from doing everything we hope to do, and it painfully reminds us that we are not in control. But, even if our physical body is failing us (which it will for each of us one day), it doesn’t mean that we’ve lost our purpose! Sometimes it’s in our suffering that we do our most meaningful work.
Recently, I followed Brooklyn Salisbury, who shared her hospice journey. While dying, she used her hands to type hope-filled words to point people toward Jesus. She used her eyes to meditate on the gospel. Even as her body became weaker, her love for her Savior remained strong.
Sometimes our purpose is to suffer well – which is exactly what Jesus exemplified in his work on the cross. It is hard and holy work, but there is nothing more honorable and purposeful than to imitate Him.
3. A lack of rest in our physical health can affect other aspects of our health
It’s not news that exercising releases endorphins, and getting enough sleep can make us less irIt’s not news that exercising releases endorphins, and getting enough sleep can make us less irritated with our spouse and kids. I’m not calling myself out here or anything. Taking care of our bodies can help us stay mentally and emotionally healthy, which trickles down to benefit our work, relationships, and community.
The opposite can also be true: our mental health can significantly affect our physical. Just think about how mental, emotional, and relational stress can affect our bodies!
We often don’t consider how not being at peace with our bodies and health affects us. Whether we struggle with extra weight, an injury or disability, or a never-ending quest to “perfect” ourselves or our diets, not being at peace with our physical health can negatively impact our lives and relationships. God’s plans are too important for us to prioritize this aspect of our lives improperly!
The next post in this series discusses potential sources of unrest in our physical health and how they might show up in our lives. Stay tuned on Instagram or Facebook for more on this topic, or sign up for emails to get the latest posts right in your inbox.
*Please know my struggles are not meant to undermine anyone facing serious health issues due to their weight. Whether it’s an extra five pounds or fifty, God wants us to find freedom from our unhealthy mindsets and habits in our physical health.