I believe health and wholeness are two distinct things. They are related, but wholeness is so much more than simply “health” as we usually think of it. When someone says they want to be healthy, they usually refer to losing weight, getting blood sugar or cholesterol under control, cleaning up their eating habits or beginning an exercise program. All of these are good things. However, wholeness or living what I refer to as a 3-D life is different. Physical health is only part of it. Wholeness also includes a healthy spirit and soul as well. Some people call this a holistic lifestyle. Whatever you choose to call it, it is worth cultivating.
Whether you realize it or not, you are already living a 3-D life. In fact, that is the way it is described in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, “our whole self, spirit, soul and body.” The key is making sure all three areas are balanced. You can be physically fit and healthy in your body, yet be spiritually lost and empty. Or, you can be physically and spiritually brimming with health and yet be lacking emotionally, which is part of your soul. If any one area is not whole and functioning properly, your overall health will ultimately suffer. Just try concentrating on a task if you are worried about one of your children or a financial problem. Stress, anxiety and worry not only high-jack your mental energies but are the cause of most physical complaints as well! So, let’s consider each one of these areas.
Your spirit is the real you, the core of your being, your true essence, the part of you that is eternal right now and will live forever! As a Christian, our spirit is to dominate. We are to be subject to and controlled by our spirits as they are in subjection to the Holy Spirit in us. With our spirits we connect with God, Who is a Spirit. They contain powerful seeds we have the ability to develop and grow. The fruit of the spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22-23 is resident within our spirits. As we use these fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) they develop just as a muscle does when it is exercised regularly. That’s a key to developing a strong, healthy spirit.
Your soul is not the same as your spirit. Your soul actually consists of your mind, will and emotions. With your mind you think and reason. The consequences of an unhealthy, unbalanced mind can be devastating. Your will is the part of your being that houses the ability to make choices. The most obvious example of a will that is not balanced and whole is addiction. Then there are our emotions. Contrary to what many believe, emotions are not good or bad. They simply are. Our experiences and perceptions color how we respond to people and situations and affect our emotions. Emotional health is vital to a satisfying life.
There are many ways to develop a strong and healthy soul. Being aware of your self-talk, the constant stream of thoughts that go through your mind is a great beginning. You may be surprised to realize how negative, fearful, anxious or angry those thoughts are. Even if you are unaware of them, they are deeply affecting you. You can try a mental fast. It’s actually a little easier than a fast from food. You simply make it a point to become aware of your thoughts. Any thought that is negative (fearful, anxious, envious), you stop and replace with a positive thought. It is simple, but not so easy. It takes commitment and effort, but it is well worth it. A simple way to begin to build up your will is to exercise control over your appetites. That includes shopping, spending money, gambling, procrastinating, any habit you feel is counterproductive to the life you truly desire. Cravings usually only last about 5 minutes and you can certainly control your impulses for that long until they pass. Do that consistently (21 days is the usual time it takes) and you develop a new habit and strengthen your will at the same time. Emotions are trickier since they are colored by your past experiences, perceptions and expectations. You must acknowledge any emotion you want to change. Let’s use fear. Stop and acknowledge that you are afraid and name what is causing that emotion. Look at it clearly and logically. Most fears are “false evidence appearing real.” Deconstruct it and see if it doesn’t shrink away.
Last is your physical body. I’ve heard it referred to as your “earth suit.” That strikes me as a perfect description. In order to live and operate on this planet earth, you must have a living physical body. The stronger and healthier you keep this vessel you’ve been given, the more easily you will find it to fulfill your goals and dreams on this earth. The four areas that contribute to a healthy body are cleansing or detoxifying, nourishing with natural, whole foods and supplements, getting adequate rest, sleep and relaxation and of course exercising regularly.
Each part complements and affects each of the other areas. If any one area is unbalanced or unhealthy, the other two areas will also be affected. Think of a tripod holding up a camera. If one of the legs is damaged or missing, it will fall over. The same is true of us. If one area of our being is damaged or totally undeveloped, we will experience problems in the other two areas.
In John 10:10 Jesus Himself tells us what kind of life He came to make available to us. Depending on the translation you use, it is referred to as abundant, overflowing or life in all its fullness. I don’t know about you, but that is what I want. By paying attention to each aspect of your being and consciously developing it, you will begin to experience that vibrant, abundant life you were meant to live.