by Dr. Carol Peters-Tanksley
Think of the billions of dollars spent and the entire industries built around people trying to get healthy or feel better in some way. That includes weight loss systems, nutritional supplements, plastic surgery, life coaching, marital counseling, stress management and wellness seminars, retreats, and products, and much of the healthcare industry itself. Makes you tired just thinking about it! It’s only in the last several decades that much of this phenomenon has come to be. Come to think of it, what did people do before self-help groups, General Nutrition Centers, and bariatric surgery?
I’m being only slightly facetious. There’s much of value in the various products, services, and industries trying to help people experience a better life. But what are we really after? What kind of “health” are we trying to achieve?
“If you aim at nothing,” someone has quipped, “you are sure to reach it every time.” While God never shows us every detail of the future He has for us, He allows enough sneak previews to make us hungry for it. He calls us to a life that’s more challenging, meaningful, and abundant than anything we could ask for or achieve on our own.
I believe healthy is exactly what Jesus meant when He said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Here’s what that looks like physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually:
Fully Alive Physically
God cares about your body. He created it. It’s His temple through His Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). When He was here on Earth, Jesus spent much of His time healing people physically (Mathew 4:24; Luke 6:19). God wants you well! That doesn’t mean He isn’t with you when you’re sick, or that He guarantees a completely illness-free life in the here and now. We still live in a sinful, messed up world. But as your healthy lifestyle and God’s blessing work together, your physical body can be vibrantly alive (Romans 8:11). That looks like:
* Generally strong and energetic a majority of the time
* Physically able to fully engage in the purpose God has for you
* No addictions or lifestyle illnesses
* Free from destructive lifestyle behaviors, such as substance abuse or unhealthy sexual behavior
Your physical body, and how you care for it, can be a demonstration of God’s restoring, healing, and sustaining power.
Fully Alive Mentally and Emotionally
God cares about your mind and emotions. Rather than fear, He promised “power, . . . love, and . . . a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). He goes about transforming and renewing your mind as you continue walking with Him (Romans 12:2; 1 Peter 1:13).
Many of the challenges you and I face in this world come through our thoughts and emotions. Remember that Jesus experienced fatigue, loneliness, and sadness (Mathew 26:37–40; Mark 4:38). We will continue to experience negative feelings as long as we’re in this world, but we don’t have to be controlled by them. You can have a sound mind and a healthy emotional life. That looks like:
* Able to experience the full range of human emotions—sadness, grief, pain, joy, love, hope
* Not being stuck in a state of anger, fear, anxiety, bitterness, or other destructive emotions
* Mental and emotional ability to fulfill the purpose God has for you
* Mental clarity in discerning and interpreting God’s voice
God promises you can have a mind like Jesus’ (Philippians 2:5). That’s not some nebulous spiritual idea; it’s the result of His renewing of your mind.
Fully Alive Relationally
God cares about your relationships. God Himself is relational, and He desires relationship with you (Jeremiah 31:33,34). Families are a part of His plan (Psalm 68:6). The relationship between husband and wife is a picture of how close He wants to be with you and me (Ephesians 5:31,32), and our love for others is a demonstration of our connection with Him (John 13:35).
There is probably no bigger factor in your own well-being, or in the impact your life has on others, than the quality of your closest relationships. Those relationships can be characterized by the same quality of love and strength God demonstrates to us. What that looks like:
* If you’re married, your relationship with your spouse characterized by love and respect
* If you’re single, living a full and vibrant life connected with others in healthy ways
* Living with sexual integrity, whether married OR single
* Having a full range of connections with others, characterized by mutuality, love, and growth
You’re going to be living in relationship with other people for eternity. The richness of that life can begin now.
Fully Alive Spiritually
God cares about your heart, your innermost being, your soul, your spirit. That’s the part of you that connects with God most directly. It’s precious, and it’s worth protecting with everything you have (Proverbs 4:23).
There’s an all-out assault going on, a battle for your heart. As long as we live in this world, heart wounds and battle scars mean that we’ll need God’s presence to keep, preserve, and make alive this most unique and valuable part of who we are. Regardless of any other circumstances, God will strengthen our hearts (Ephesians 3:16–19). What that looks like:
* A relationship with God that is resilient, growing, and real
* Continuing to experience God’s transforming power in all aspects of your life
* Participating in the advance of God’s kingdom on Earth
* Demonstrating hope for the future in the midst of troubles now
God’s presence making your inner being fully alive will “leak out” and make the other parts of you alive as well.
Does that picture of “healthy” sound like an impossible dream? It isn’t! It’s never too late to get better, and it’s never too early to start. Rather than becoming discouraged by such an ambitious goal, let it inspire you, encourage you, and motivate you to work together with God more than ever before in finding and living the full life He has for you.
About the Author
Dr Carol Peters-Tanksley M.D., D.Min., is a licensed practicing OB-Gyn physician, and also an ordained Christian minister. As an author and speaker she is passionate about helping others discover the full and joyous life Jesus came to bring. Find out more on her website http://www.drcarolministries.com. And join her on Twitter or Facebook. Dr Carol and her husband Al make their home in Austin, Texas.
Listen to the radio show: http://www.drcarolministries.com/radio-archives/
Shop for the Live Healthy, Live Whole book: http://www.drcarolministries.com/live-healthy-live-whole/