I still remember stepping on the scale. After a solid year of hard work, the last remaining pounds from baby #3 had officially disappeared. This was it! I had reached my goal weight! I was so happy. I was so proud. I looked so good.
As I entered my friend’s gym that morning, I announced the news. I relished the high fives and cheers from all but one friend—my coach. Was she not happy for me? Finally, at the end of the class, she managed to congratulate me. She asked how I felt and I, of course, answered, “great!”
The next morning, my husband and I argued, the kids were late, and I lost my temper. My fuse was short and I was easily offended. I realized my motivation was gone. What should my day look like? What was my new goal? I was not in the mood, but I did manage to go back to the gym. Again, the same coach and friend asked me how I felt. I could not answer, “great!” this time. I was apathetic and melancholy. I was annoyed she had even asked me.
What changed from the day before—only 24 hours ago?
What did NOT change from the day before?
For the first time, I realized healthy is not the number on the scale. Healthy is something bigger, something deeper. Yes, I had lost the weight. Yes, I felt physically better with fewer stomach issues and less bloating. But the very next day, nothing seemed different on the inside. I was still battling the same frustrations. I was still easily offended. I was still frantic. I was struggling with apathy and lack of motivation. My peace was still so fragile—easily and frequently wrecked.
Out of habit, I kept exercising. But, slowly, every day brought more excuses to not show up. I had met my goal weight, and my motivation to consistently hit the gym plummeted. Deep down, I did not care. How could that be? I prayed for God to give me motivation.
During my quiet time one morning, God brought to mind a conversation I had with the same gym friend. I shared with her a dream in my heart to do great things for God with an opportunity I had been given. It all seemed genuine and pure. She listened. At the end of the conversation she said, “Heather, I hope you find the peace you are looking for.” It stopped me in my tracks.
I had been a Christ follower for more than 30 years. Wasn’t peace promised over and over again in the Bible? Guaranteed, even? Jesus Himself offered it and provided it. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (John 14:27). How could I be without peace when it was promised to me? I had eaten the right foods, exercised my body, drunk a great deal of water, and achieved the prized weight goal, but here I was still struggling with motivation and, clearly, not at peace.
Even after this revelation, I found myself regularly skipping the gym and eating foods which did not fuel my body well. Soon, all the weight found its way back onto my body. Once again, I was struggling mightily to feel better and to look better. This time, I knew I had to slow down and do the real healing work of why. Why did my motivations come and go? Why did I succeed only to fail again? Why did this seem like a battle I could not win?
While digging deep into God’s Word, going to counseling, and seeking freedom through prayer, God showed me two specific truths:
First, that God Himself, the God of peace, would sanctify me completely—my whole spirit and soul and body can be kept blameless (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Secondly, “a heart at peace gives life to the body” (Proverbs 14:30, NIV).
While pondering these two verses, I had an epiphany.
Healthy is an inside job.
Healthy is not just about the body. It involves our spirit and soul—our mind, will, and emotions. Healthy is not just physical. Healthy is also emotional, mental, spiritual, relational, financial, and environmental. It involves our whole life. And there is indeed an order to this healthy life.
First, if we are “in Christ,” our spirit takes on His Spirit. It is then, by holding up the Word of God, our spirit is reminded of who God is, who we are, and what He promises. It is from a healthy spirit and soul that our bodies also can be healthy since our motivations, perspectives, and desires align with those of our Creator. Our wills become the will of God. Our emotions are His emotions. Our mind is His mind.
It was pain in my gut, a weakened immune system, and extra weight that first motivated me to be healthier in my body. This time, it was peace, or the lack thereof, that motivated me to be healthy in my soul. I had to ask myself some tough questions.
How healthy is my mind? Do I believe the things God says about Himself in His Word? Is He really sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, good, faithful, gracious, full of mercy, and just?
Do I believe the things God says about me? That I am loved, redeemed, holy, set apart, chosen, His workmanship, purposed for good works, fearfully and wonderfully made, a friend of God, adopted, an image bearer of Christ, an ambassador?
Do I believe the promises of God? Do I believe His love endures forever? Do I believe He withholds nothing from His children? Do I believe He gives favor? Do I believe He is our refuge and help?
How healthy are my emotions? Do I acknowledge they are a gift from God? Do I acknowledge that the bad emotions are something I have, not who I am?
How healthy is my will? What motivates me? Is it a desire to wear a bikini two sizes smaller? Or is my body a vessel that must be fueled to carry me to do the will of the Father for my life? Am I doing everything I can to have enough energy to do the things He designed for me? If so, then what does my size or number on the scale have to do with any of that?
A healthy will is fully surrendered and obedient. My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit so apart from ensuring it is equipped to do the good works God has for me, it is a matter of holiness. Just as the priest ensured the tabernacle, and later the temple, was not defiled, this also should be our goal with our bodies.
How healthy am I? became more about How peaceful am I?
How peaceful am I? became more about How holy am I?
The goal was no longer about my weight or even so much my physical health. It was about being whole in spirit, soul, and body. Slowly, I began to understand that obedience in all three areas would help me grow in holiness as well as wholeness. His power would be there when I was weak, and His grace would be sufficient when I came up short of my new life goal. What a relief! What freedom! What peace!
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