Next up in our New Year, New Thing series is Rachel Britton, helping us take a bold, fresh approach to our healthy resolutions. Rachel is the author of the book Prayer Zone Workout, which helps you start meaningful heart conversations with God. Welcome, Rachel!
The headline Get Your New Body Now jumps out at me from a magazine cover at the supermarket checkout as I’m piling bags of chips I can’t resist, and baklava I fancy having as a treat, onto the belt. “A new body—wouldn’t that be great,” I’m thinking.
I’ve been that route before. I’ve taken out a start of the New Year gym membership with the good intentions of running on the treadmill and pumping iron three times a week. Yet, soon one week goes by, and then another, and my bag of workout clothes still sits on my bedroom floor. It’s an expensive mistake.
Then I see a group promoting personal transformation. Achieve greater emotional satisfaction and inner peace, it says. I read on: Awaken the self within you. Access your inner wisdom. I’m not sure I would trust my own wisdom, and alternative healing and mindfulness doesn’t sound biblical.
There are many opportunities available to improve our health and a lot of these are good. I think they just miss an important point.
So, I want to give you a new way to be healthy—to learn to thrive grace-FULLY.
1. REAL HEALTH AND WELLNESS RELIES ON GOD’S GRACE.
Health and wellness is more than a self-help program; it starts with God’s grace.
Our health is not about self-transformation, but transformation of our mind, body and spirit by God.
God’s grace—offered to us through Jesus Christ and his work on the cross—frees us from death and gives us new life. Ezekiel 36:26 says God puts a new healthy heart and a new spirit within us. Isn’t that wonderful?
Renewal begins at the very core of our being. The alternative healing and mindfulness group has got that part right—when they talk about transformation coming from within—but it’s not from us; it’s from God—and it’s a gift. Ephesians 2:8
When we have this fresh perspective, we can relax knowing we are not doing this “new body thing” on our own. Our health relies on God, and God sustains our wellbeing through his Holy Spirit within us.
If God does the overhaul and maintaining for us, it doesn’t mean we can sit around all day, watching soaps 24/7, and eating Doritos. We have a part to play, too.
2. REAL HEALTH AND WELLNESS RELIES ON GOD BUT REQUIRES OUR RESPONSIBILITY
We need to work at keeping what God has begun in us in tiptop shape.
Philippians 2:12 says: work out your salvation. I had the words “work out” explained to me as the same words used to describe miners bringing silver deposits to the surface. God has deposited a new heart and spirit inside us, and we need to work out and bring that health to the surface as wholesome thoughts, nourishing words, beneficial actions and behaviors for the benefit of ourselves and others.
Health has an inward, outward flow. Proverbs 4:23 says everything—our thoughts, actions and behaviors—flow from our heart. Wellness doesn’t begin with outward efforts like going to the gym, it begins with the heart, which affects the way we think, move and eat.
In this way, God’s grace is not just about our spiritual transformation, it extends to the health of our minds and bodies as well.
3. REAL HEALTH AND WELLNESS RECOGNIZES GOD’S GRACE IS FOR OUR SPIRITUAL, PHYSICAL, AND EMOTIONAL HEALTH.
The problem is we tend to separate the spiritual from physical. We go to the doctor if we break an arm. We wouldn’t go to our pastor, apart from asking for prayer. We go to our pastor to understand a passage of scripture, not to a doctor.
Health Educator, and friend, Danielle Gilde says you need to start looking at your body as a whole and see it for the beautiful complex system that God designed it to be. Each bite of food you take, each thought you have, each time you move your body, and each time you feel stressed, will impact your body as a whole.
For instance, 2 Corinthians 12: 9 says: My grace is sufficient for you. We tend to think of this verse as talking about God’s grace upholding us in our spiritual weakness. But, these words come just after Paul talks about his “thorn in the flesh.” Scholars tend to think “in the flesh” implies this affliction affected Paul’s physical body. If so, then Paul expected God’s grace to extend to the physical as well as the spiritual.
In essence, we need to view our bodies—the spiritual, physical and emotional—as a whole and all aspects of being as a gift from God. This will help us change how we think, what we eat, what we watch and read, and how we spend our time.
Candice Watters says:
“There’s plenty of praise in our culture for wanting to get fit, be healthy, trim down to attract a mate, feel better about yourself, be able to wear all those clothes you bought that are hanging in your closet, etc. But such praise is for what I can do in my own strength. None of it recognizes that my body — a gift from God — belongs to Him. How I use it, what I put into it, and how long I’m able to live in it, are matters of stewardship.”
So how can we put this stewardship into practice and thrive grace-FULLY? Here are two resources to get you started: One will help you think about what you eat and your nutritional health.
The second will help you improve your physical and spiritual health together. I invite you to check out my book Prayer Zone Workout. It is an accessible path to being fitter, calmer, and more centered, and to make the disciplines of prayer and exercise become habits in your life.
One day we will be completely healthy in mind, body and soul. Until that day, be kind to yourself and remember we are not going to achieve perfection in this life. So, we should look at our health and wellness as progression. This is going to look different for each of us, but we can all make progress. Share in the comments how you are going to take a fresh approach to your health this year.
Rachel Britton is an author, blogger and speaker. Raised on the east coast of England, Rachel now lives in Massachusetts with her husband and three college-age children. She is passionate about helping women become healthier in their relationship with God, with others, and with themselves. Rachel is author of Prayer Zone Workout: Spiritual and Physical Exercise for the Heart, and its accompanying app. Rachel cannot live without an early morning mug of English tea or a bar of chocolate. You can connect with Rachel at www.rachelbritton.com, on Facebook and Twitter.