Fit For Life Part 1
By Mary Southerland
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body (1 Corinthians 6:19, NIV).
Friend to Friend
It is much easier to give in to sin or yield to temptation when we are physically depleted. Discipline begins in the mind and then travels to the body. I can hear you groaning already but stay with me. Sin and temptation often find their greatest opportunity to work in the body.
I have struggled with diet and exercise from childhood. Part of my struggle is rooted in “fluffy” genes lovingly passed down to me through several generations of “fluffy” relatives.
The remainder of my struggle is firmly rooted in the fact that…
I enjoy eating, hate exercise, and sometimes use food as an emotional outlet. Consequently, my weight has fluctuated over the years like a championship yo-yo.
Satan rejoiced as I deemed myself “worthy” when I lost the weight and “unworthy” when I gained it back. Guilt and shame attached themselves to every bite of food, while the Battle of the Bulge became the War of Worthiness.
Marriage, motherhood, and ministry brought new weapons into the fray. Ridiculously crowded schedules and chronic fatigue seemed to be regarded as holy Medals of Honor. I quickly learned the unspoken rules of successful Christian living – rest is for the wicked, exhaustion is for the holy, fast food is for the fully devoted, and burnout is the ultimate goal. At times, I can almost hear Satan, standing in the wings, laughing at my skewed priorities and lack of discipline, knowing that his opening is just around the corner.
There is simply no way around the truth that discipline is part of trusting God with our health. We cannot give our hearts to God but keep our bodies for ourselves. To do so is sin. It’s time for a new plan and a new way of thinking when it comes to disciplining the body.
- Eliminate diets. Replace all “diets” with a “healthy eating plan.” Fad diets are quick-fixes and rarely work long-term. A healthy eating plan requires a lifestyle change and is not only a matter of how much we weigh but a matter of what we eat as well. Many thin people follow diets that are just as unhealthy as the diets of overweight people. Ask yourself, “Is this good for me?” instead of “Is this fattening?” A healthy eating plan honors God.
- Get moving. A friend once told me her favorite exercise was opening and closing the refrigerator door. Hmm … not good! Set realistic goals in the area of exercise. Start with 15 minutes a day, three times a week. Gradually increase that time. Choose an activity with a dual purpose. For example, while you are walking, you can pray. Walking can be a healthy way of dealing with anger, venting frustration to God instead of to others. A walk can also serve as a “mini-retreat” during a chaotic day. Ask God to change your perspective on exercise – then take the first step. He will meet you there.
- Learn to rest. Rest is not an option if we are to function at our best. We sometimes stay busy because we are afraid to face our past or even the future. Guilt keeps us moving, trying to prove our worth.
For most of my adult life, I have wrongly equated being busy with being productive. I am guilty as charged when it comes to living each day in overdrive. The result has always been exhaustion and watered-down living.
We are masters of rationalizing our way to man’s approval. I am convinced that when we are willing to surrender our lives to the tyranny of the urgent, the enemy will keep ‘em coming – people who need us immediately, those who clamor for our attention above our family and our personal relationship with God.
The chorus in one of my favorite worship songs says:
Lord, I give you my heart.
I give You my soul.
I live for You alone.
Every breath that I take
Every moment I’m awake,
Lord, have Your way in me.
Join me in a new commitment to become fit for life – for our good and God’s glory.
Mary Southerland is an author, international speaker, Founder of Journey Ministry, and Co-founder of Girlfriends in God. Her books include Hope in the Midst of Depression, Sandpaper People, Escaping the Stress Trap, Experiencing God’s Power in Your Ministry, Trusting God and Knowing God by Name.
Mary’s heart passion is to help women discover and live out their God-shaped identity and purpose in life. Connect with her on her website, Facebook, and Twitter!