About two years ago, I had started a new series called “Loving Healthy.” I had every full intention to share tips, resources, and more on how to live a healthy life, but only two blogposts later, I went silent on this subject. The main reason was that I realized as much as I was living a “healthy lifestyle”, I didn’t love my body or love where I was in life, both physically and emotionally. I was facing an uphill battle in my personal life that was affecting both my physical and mental health. Even my doctor was asking me, “What is going on?” Because, stress was affecting my body in major ways. Only a few close friends and spiritual mentors in my life knew what was happening, and I knew things needed to change. Through both prayer and therapy, I found a freedom and healing that is truly allowing me to live the healthiest life that God has intended for me to live.
While I am not going to use this space to speak to life’s most recent and very difficult trial(one day, I will share my testimony, but this is not the time or place), I am going to use this little blog to speak of how to live and lead a healthy life when your entire world has fallen apart. Although we cannot control our circumstances, we do have control over the choices we make, especially our daily choices. There are questions I began to ask myself over the past couple years that I want you to ask yourself, too.
What should I feed my body? How should I spend my free time? What media and how much of it am I consuming? What lies have I believed for too long? How does God see me? How do I keep going when everything is telling me to give up? How do I be mindful of my health? What is the best way to start my morning? Why is it so important for me to take a break from social media? What needs to take priority in my life? What does it look like to live a healthy life, anyways?
In some way or another, I am going to answer these questions over the next year on this Health Blog.
It’s not until recently that I feel I can finally start writing about health again, and maybe, God put it on hold so that I could experience my own healing, so that I may be better able to give voice to other women who are currently sitting in a similar place. Because, here’s the thing: Health is more than just eating your vegetables and exercising and getting your daily steps in. Health is holistic. It is made up of mind, body and soul. You can’t take care of one part without taking care of the other parts.
I know there are a lot of blogs out there and though my voice is just one of many, I want to share some things that I pray and hope can better both you and I as we seek to live our lives honoring God with both our minds and our bodies. Because, my hope is that along this journey, you will focus less on the diet/health culture that promotes “I need to do this so I can look this way. I need to do more to finally love the body I’m in or to be loved by others.” Nope. The best thing you can do for yourself is to learn how to love yourself without a list of pre-requisites. Because, this is how God loves you and I.
This journey to becoming truly healthy began by learning to love and see myself as God sees me. I wrote about it in a letter to my fellow Type 3 (Over-Achiever) Enneagram Types. Read more about that here. This is still an everyday work in progress, but the more time I spend with Jesus, the more I realize how much my own perception had been distorted by my circumstances or by the voices and images of others.
Healthy loving begins by loving the life you’ve been given, by loving today just as it is, another day to breathe with two lungs and carry on with two feet, and to know that this day is some kind of miracle. Gratitude. This little word is what changed my world upside down and led me to find true fulfillment and joy in the life God has blessed me with. No matter where you are today, even if you are discouraged, disappointed, or dissatisfied, I guarantee you that you can find one thing to be grateful for. And, that one thing will lead to another, which will lead you to an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for today, even if it was a crummy Monday. (Also, poor Monday. It never asked for all the hate we throw it’s way.)
As I began this journey of every day gratitude, I also began to see God’s beauty in the world around me, which made me realize, “If I find beauty in creation, then that means God finds beauty in me.” A friend and I were recently talking about out of all the places in the world, God chose us (our bodies) to be the dwelling place of His Spirit. Whoa.
This realization has made me want to honor my body and treat it well not only with the things I feed it (both internally and externally), but also with the words I pour into it. As someone who has struggled with body image, I began to change my own narrative and look at myself in the mirror and say, “You are beautiful.” Tears began to fill my eyes as I began to see myself not for how the world sees me, but for how God sees me. I will never be petite, because that’s not how God created me. I have more of an athletic build and for the first time, in a very long time, I have begun to love myself and this body that God has entrusted to me.
During this time of healing, I wrote a letter to my body and wanted to share it here with you all. I hope that you may read these words and speak them over your body, too. Here’s to loving healthy by loving ourselves, a love that comes from seeing ourselves through the eyes of God.
We’ve had a love and hate relationship
Since the 12th grade
And, though this has been our story for some time
I believe things are changing
For, I have come to see that you are resilient
For strength has attached itself to your bones
So, I will not step on the scale
And, retreat to old ways
Where my mind compares you, this body
To others that surround me
This is my letter to say
You are athletic and strong
And, though I have struggled to see your beauty
I am beginning to see it now
For no matter how many miles you run in a day
Or how many leaves of kale you inhale
You cannot change
The structure of your frame
What right have I to walk in this home
And, try to renovate the rooms
Trying to be the fixer upper
Of the ways you’ve been built
For, you are beautiful as you are
For as long as there is breath in my lungs
You are my gift
And, I’m sorry I haven’t always
Seen you this way
I’m sorry I’ve compared you
To the other homes in the neighborhood
Believing they are better than you
When they are not for me
You are mine alone.
Thank you for your resilience
You have fought disease and pain not many have known
You have endured battles and treatments
So, that today, we can breathe and say
Running is still our gift to enjoy
You are a living miracle
Like a light that has shattered the darkness
For the first time in years
I am seeing you as you truly are
Strong and beautiful
There is only one of you
In all the world
So, let’s make amends
I am sorry I’ve been so unkind
Let’s start again
I’m proud to call you mine.
Cheers until next time, friends! And, aloha, from Hawaii!