I must be doing something wrong. If I just saw the right doctor, took the right medicine, did the right exercises, ate the right foods, read the right books, I’d be cured … right? My mind travels down this dangerous path often. Surely I’m just one step away from instant insomnia relief. I must have missed something.
Or maybe I haven’t. Maybe what I’m doing now is enough. Maybe my body’s current state—weight, BMI, fitness level, overall physical health status—is exactly where it’s supposed to be at this point in time.
Our Clingy Relationship with Physical Health
I’m not sure if anyone else has noticed, but it seems like our nation obsesses over health now more than ever. Everyone needs to wear a Fitbit, run five or more days per week, drink kale smoothies for breakfast and sleep eight hours each night. How much time and effort do we invest into physical health before saying “enough is enough?” (Side note: I do wear a Fitbit and I LOVE kale smoothies, but that’s beside the point.)
Let’s think about this. The average life expectancy in the United States sits around 80 years. That’s a decent amount of time, so sure, take care of your body while you have it. Give it quality nutrients (as possible) and try to keep it moving in reasonable amounts throughout the day. But guys, zoom out for a second. Our lifespans—80 to 100 years at best—are basically tiny blips in time when you consider eternity.
I don’t mean to sound depressing, I just think we need to recognize this when considering physical health. In particular, we should think about what’s worth investing more time, energy and thought into—our physical health, or our spiritual health?
Personally, I believe in an afterlife. I believe our spirits will remain eternally after we die, either with or without God, depending upon faith or lack thereof. And I’m pleasantly surprised to find 80 percent of Americans also believe in an afterlife, despite a recent decrease in religious affiliation (NBC News, 2016).
So the vast majority of us agree—our spirits will go on past those 80 years. Yet we cling to our years on earth as if they’re all we’ve got.
I’ll confess, I habitually spend too much time calculating my sugar intake, ensuring I get plenty of fruits and vegetables, adding up “active minutes” and step counts, and, the big one for me, estimating time asleep (which has been quite a downer the past few years).
But jeepers, does it really matter?! What happens when I lose the ability to exercise? When my sleep drops from four or five hours per night to an absolute zero? When sickness or old age depletes my body’s nutrient status and my appetite for healthy food? Well, my body will gain and lose weight dramatically; it will alter in shape; it will change in overall appearance. Then it will be gone.
The process is inevitable. It occurs faster in some, slower in others; and sometimes the loss of our physical health happens in a split second. (Before we have the chance to say, “Wait! I still need to lose five pounds!”)
That’s why, starting now, I want to focus on the part of me that lasts beyond 80 years. Rather than investing embarrassing amounts of time into expectantly making my body better, stronger, leaner, I want to concentrate on strengthening my spirit. For me, this means asking myself on a daily/hourly basis:
* Am I praying/praising/giving thanks as much as I’m exercising/meal prepping/attempting to improve sleep?
* Am I taking adequate time to study who God is and nurturing my relationship with Him?
* Am I listening to Him and His Word throughout the day?
* Am I spending time with His people and serving them when I can?
* Am I living intentionally in all that I do, keeping my mind protected from worries and anxiety-provoking lies?
I still plan to take care of my body. But while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way. I’m choosing to address my body’s physical needs, giving myself grace in what I cannot control, and letting God take care of the rest. Most importantly, I’m choosing to shift my focus from today to eternity.
Peace and blessings,
Kat, (semi-professional) insomniac