Pursuing Health in a Temporary World

I realize I’ve been blogging a lot about health in the last month or two. This is the last post I need to get out of my system for awhile, I promise!!

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Sometimes, it feels like I spend an awful lot of time pursuing health.


Much of my day is spent cooking healthy foods from scratch, making natural cleaning products, running from one health appointment to the next, exercising regularly, and trying to resist temptation constantly.

yams

I do these things because all of them are helping me feel healthier than I have in many years. But every once in a while, I wonder if I’m wasting my time…

In the end, I don’t get to keep this body, anyway. Pursuing health is chasing something as temporary as material possessions. Is it worth the effort I’m putting into it?

My friend’s husband says he will keep eating the unhealthy food he loves, die sooner, and therefore get to heaven faster than I will. Junk food for a lifetime, and then, eternity.

Either way, we’ll both come to the same end.

But I can’t find it in me to agree with his strategy. Even though I’ve struggled with health issues for many years, I keep seeing this body as a gift, entrusted to me to care for.

I remember reading about how Jim Elliot kept his body in good physical shape, not for his own vanity or pleasure, but because it was his vehicle for getting the message of salvation out to the people living in the jungle. He wanted to be fit to do whatever it took to spread the gospel, and he did not want his body to hinder him.

As I care for my family, I am reminded over and over that this body is all I get for this lifetime. If I want strength, energy, calmness, and the ability to enjoy today fully, I need to care for my “vehicle”.

If I don’t get enough sleep, I am impatient and short-tempered. If I eat pancakes for breakfast, or anything sweet mid-afternoon, it puts me in a horrible mood – I seem to crash, and am unable to cope with the surge of sugar in my body. I never used to notice it, but as I cut out the unhealthy food in my life, I am better able to pinpoint these patterns.

I’ve been told that pain makes people grumpy. Experience tells me this is true.

This body wasn’t made to last forever, but that knowledge drives me to care more for it, rather than abuse it and view it as “disposable”.

I have no idea if making healthier choices will lengthen my life. But I’m going for quality, not quantity. And it doesn’t take much to see how healthy choices are increasing my quality of life.

Sometimes I still wish that all my efforts were producing more of a difference, and I get frustrated with the body I have to work with.

But the verse that continually pops into my mind is, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”

I think God cares about health, too. I just finished reading The Maker’s Diet, which was extremely informative and enjoyable. Rubin writes about how the laws given to the Israelites in the desert by God are today being scientifically proven to still produce ultimate health in the human body. The Israelites were extremely advanced in their hygiene at that time, and by following God’s laws, avoided many common types of sickness, just by the foods they ate, and their habits of cleanliness.

If God directed them towards health back then, I think it’s important for us today, too.

He made my body.

He has a plan for my life.

It makes sense to me that He desires this body to function well, so that I can live a full life, for whatever length of time He chooses.

I don’t believe Christians are immune to disease. But I do believe He’s given us a lot more answers to health than we may realize, or choose to act on.

And I do look forward to Heaven, but in the meantime, I want to really do this life. I want to enjoy my family, and see God in nature, and be in deep, meaningful relationships with other people. I want to discover my strengths, and use my gifts, and if there is anything holding me back from enjoying all of this, I do not want it to be something I could have avoided by making better choices.

I want to be a good steward of the gift God’s given me for right now, and when it’s time for Him to call me home, I will gladly trade in this body for whatever He’s got for me up there!

I’ll end up in the same place either way, but I want the journey to be as good as possible!

What do you think – how much is health worth to you? To what lengths are you willing to go to care for your body?

The Point of Temptation

I love chips.

I love to inhale chips.

It is completely dangerous for me to be around a bag of chips, because I will eat it all, by myself.

The big problem is that chips make my tongue very, very happy, and my digestive system very, very unhappy. I’m on a fairly strict diet for health reasons, and if I stick to it, I feel great.

If I inhale a bag of chips, I do not feel great. It takes me a day or two to recover.

But, oh, when those chips are being shoved rapidly into my mouth, I don’t really care how many days it will take to get back to normal. It seems worth it all.

Until the second after I’m done inhaling the bag of chips. Then, I am usually overcome with guilt and remorse, and it does NOT seem worth it AT ALL.

Obviously, I have issues with chips.

I was thinking about all of this awhile ago when I was leading a session on resisting temptation. Eating chips is not usually considered sinful behaviour, but for somebody like me, sometimes I wonder….

Those moments of pure indulgence do not do good things for self-control, and they also don’t do good things for my family. My mood is affected by what I eat, and if I feel sick and crabby for a day after an encounter with some chips, it really doesn’t seem fair for everyone involved.

But what happens so often is that we focus on the actual act of wrong-doing, and feel bad about what we’ve done, but we don’t see the big picture. We don’t recognize all the little steps that led us up to the big moment when we caved.

For example….My moment of weakness did not happen when that bag of chips happened to be sitting there in front of me in all its salty, greasy glory. It happened already when I was at the store, and I was pushing my cart past the chip aisle. When I paused there, and started to imagine how delicious a bag of chips would taste…THAT was my moment of temptation.

And resisting in that moment would be a lot easier than later on. At my first point of temptation, all I would have to do is keep my cart rolling straight, instead of turning down the chip aisle.

(Totally outdated picture, but it’s the only grocery shopping picture I have! And I find it funny that although it’s taken two years ago, there’s a bag of ripple chips in the cart!)

Later on, I would have to resist that bag of chips in many other more difficult situations – like when I see it sitting in my pantry repeatedly, day after day, until I break down and eat it. Or I would have to resist it at a party, when the bag is sitting open on the counter. Or I’d have to stop myself in the moment when my hand was in the bag, reaching for another handful, after already consuming half the chips.

But it’s soooo hard to stop then! I want to keep eating until they are gone! (I realize that at this point, you might be thinking I’m completely crazy, and needing some serious help. I would just like to point out that people are either moderators or abstainers – they can do things in moderation, like eat only one cookie, or they are the “all or nothing” type, meaning they would eat the entire bag of Oreos. I would eat the entire bag of cookies.)

I once read a fantastic article about bad habits and how to break them. When you have a problem area in your life, it helps to identify not just what the area of temptation is, but also what leads up to it.

When specifically do I crave chips? Can I stay away from the chip aisle completely when I shop? Can I make sure not to shop when I’m hungry?

When am I most likely to be led into temptation, and how can I avoid those situations in my life?

Today I had to explain to Anika what it meant to “flee from the devil”. After clearing up the difference between “flee” and “flea”, I explained that when we feel tempted, God tells us to RUN. As fast as we can, in the opposite direction.

I must flee from Ripple Chips, as fast as my legs will take me.

I also need to recognize the little choices I make, and be aware of what direction they are taking me.

Okay, confession time! What’s your weakness? And what leads you to the point of giving in?