Month Three Of NJW Blog: Health, Part One—Spiritual Health
Wow, I am proud of you! Keep your commitment. Its great to see you again for another fabulous month. Welcome to month three!
As we look at the topic of health this month, the first order of business is to make sure our view of health is broad enough. If I were to ask you, “Are you healthy?” you might think simply of your physical health. You’d do a brief overview of how your body is and answer me based on that. If you feel well, then you probably view yourself as healthy. But this is only one aspect of health and being a healthy person. I would like to challenge you to think deeper. Let me explain.
As human beings, we possess one of the most complex designs the world has ever seen. We are not merely a body; there is so much more to our make-up. In fact, I believe there are three major aspects to each person, all intricately connected to one another. They are our body, the physical nature; our soul, the mind, will, emotions and intellectual nature; and our spirit, the part of us that transcends this world and communes with God.
Let’s view this is as a sphere with three layers. The first or innermost layer, the core, is our spiritual life. This is our most important aspect and gives us the foundation for living and provides the strength we need for everything else. The middle, or second layer, is the soul. This is the intangible part of us. You can’t touch it, but it is there, and it’s what drives most of what we are! The last, the outermost layer, is our body. This is simply the physical shell that houses our soul and spirit.
So, how are these connected? How do they affect one another? Obviously, a person’s beliefs affect their emotions. If a person is in a negative situation, they may experience anxiety or fear. That, in turn, could potentially cause physical ailments such as stomach problems, headaches or fatigue, for example. This is just one simple example of how the three areas of our make-up affect one another.
So, rather than simply viewing ourselves as physical bodies that need to be maintained and kept healthy, it would serve us well to develop a more holistic, well-rounded view of what it means to be healthy. As we develop each area, we will be able to achieve the health we desire in every area of our lives.
I believe there are four main areas of emphasis to do our topic of health justice and help you attain total health as a reality in your life:
1. Spiritual Health: Today, we will look at the benefits and importance of developing a vibrant spiritual life and give you some easy methods to help take your spiritual life to a deeper level.
2. Emotional Health: The mind, will, and emotions. Week 11 will cover the importance of a healthy soul, specifically, the mind, will, and emotional aspects of life. We will look at how our inner person is such a vital part in making sure we live the kind of life we desire. We will learn how our emotional life can become healthy, strong, and lively.
3. Physical Health—Nutrition: In Week 12, we will begin a two-part look at the body and physical health, concentrating on the area of nutrition. It is important that we fuel our body properly because energy comes from the foods we eat. Just like a vehicle runs off of the fuel we fill it with, if we put the wrong kind of fuel into our body, it will not run properly. Put the right kinds of foods in, and it will run like the high-performance engine in an expensive sports car!
4. Physical Health—Exercise: Week 13 will look at the important area of exercise. “I need to exercise” is the first thought that occurs to most people when they think of health. We do need exercise, and three weeks from now, we will take a more in-depth look at this important topic.
Right now, let’s focus on the first aspect: spiritual health.
There are four major keys to spiritual health:
A healthy spiritual life is one of the most rewarding things we can pursue. There are important things in this life, and it’s okay to spend time and resources to experience their richness in every way. Ultimately, everything in this life passes away, though, leaving only our spiritual life. Our physical lives here are temporal; our bodies wear out, but our spiritual lives are eternal—they last forever. This tells me that our spiritual health is our most important pursuit. The God questions are the most vital questions we can ask, because they influence our life in so many significant ways and the answers make an impact on us for eternity.
A healthy spiritual life benefits us in many ways. When we develop a healthy spiritual life and give it the importance it deserves, when we allow our spiritual life to impact the rest of our life, we receive tremendous benefits: peace, joy, perspective, wholeness, better relationships, purpose, significance, excitement and passion for life, hope for a better future, emotional stability, intellectual curiosity, and a better understanding of the importance of all that is around us. A healthy spiritual life reaches into every other area of our lives and creates a strong foundation upon which we build the life we desire. When we build upon the rock of a strong spiritual life, we exponentially increase our opportunity to live the benefits and blessings of a centered life.
A healthy spiritual life is developed through discipline, just as all things important to us. The great theologian G.K. Chesterton said of Christianity, “It isn’t that Christianity has been tried and found wanting, but found difficult and left untried.” This is true in so many areas of our lives, but especially true in our spiritual life. Just as we need to get into the gym to exercise on a regular basis, we need to get into a spiritual discipline on a regular basis.
A healthy spiritual life will bring a unique strength to the rest of your life. It is the foundation, the part of us from which everything else emanates and finds its strength and purpose. It centers us and gives us the kind of perspective we all need to live and lead successful lives.
With these things in mind, here are some simple ways you can begin to develop a deeper, richer and healthier spiritual life:
1. Make it a pursuit, as you would make any other area you are hoping to experience growth. Set your sights on a strong spiritual life and pursue it with vigor!
2. Set aside time to be alone and to work on your spirituality. Anything worth pursuing must have time devoted to it. In your pursuit of spiritual health, be sure to give yourself the necessary time to cultivate that inner life. Put it in your datebook; make sure you give it the time it deserves.
3. Read good materials about the spiritual life. As you know, I am a reader and encourage everyone to do the same. I am passionate about it! There are so many great books that will enable you to grow spiritually. My personal recommendation on where to begin is the Bible. If you listen to me for even a short time, you will see that I regularly quote the wisdom I have learned from the Bible. There are numerous books specifically written to help you grow spiritually. Take advantage of them, and read them during your time alone pursuing spiritual health.
4. Some people enjoy listening to music designed to deepen their spiritual life. Music has the power to move our spirit in ways most things cannot. I strongly encourage you to spend time on a regular basis listening to music that will encourage your spirit. Many of the classics fit this criterion, and there are so many great artists who help us focus on the inner spiritual life through excellent music.
5. Involve yourself in a community of faith. I believe our spiritual lives are best lived with other people (and not just our spiritual lives). We need others to challenge and encourage us. We need others to teach and learn from us—we are in this together. Yes, I know that when you get groups of people together, things can go awry at times, but I am convinced that more good than ill comes when we pursue our spiritual life with others.
Do these things on a regular basis and be consistent in your pursuit of spiritual health. Take time in a disciplined manner, because over time, as you invest in your spiritual life, you will see your inner core and foundations strengthening in ways you could never imagine, and that, in turn, will give you the basis for the kind of whole-life situation you are looking for!
Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!