Monday, March 12, 2012

The Ups and Downs on the Path to Health

I, along with my staff-mates, have committed to making 2012 our healthiest year ever. This encompasses physical health, mental health and spiritual health. Having been on this path for two and a half months, there is one thing that has really crystalized for me. The path to health in every area of personhood looks exactly alike: it is filled with ups and downs that make it impossible to judge progress by looking at single snapshot in time.

Physical health, mental health or spiritual health – it doesn’t matter; the same dynamic is present in them all. Progress and setback. On the wagon, off the wagon. Practice disciplines, miss the disciplines. Good days, bad days. If you look at any one day, or week, or cycle, you can woefully misjudge how you are doing. We get too rosy or too gloomy of a picture.

The only way to accurately assess yourself, to discern how you are actually doing, is over a longer period of time. It’s not so much whether I weigh less than last week, or do a better job at controlling my thoughts and emotions that I did yesterday or whether I have more energy for the things of God today than I did two weeks ago. Because of the up and down nature of life, I can end up thinking I’m doing way better, or way worse, that I actually am doing.

It is better to see that I weigh less this month than last month; or that I controlled my thoughts and emotions much better in a certain situation than I did in a similar situation 3 months ago; or that I am more excited about God and His work than I was last year.

Healthy practices, which lead to healthy outcomes, take time to work their magic. We must respect this reality and persevere in doing them. We cannot allow ourselves to become despondent when we hit the inevitable slump. We can’t grow weary and quit because we haven’t seen the progress we desire. We can’t make sweeping judgments based on slices in time.

I am a “work hard today, see results now” kind of guy. I am inherently impatient and I naturally find myself emotional tied to this day, this week, or this event. I am learning to be more long-term oriented when it comes to my health, and not just my leadership. The Scriptures say that righteous practices will produce healthy results “at the appropriate time”. (Galatians 6:9) The appropriate time is, it appears, never right away. It is down the road. And this requires that we persevere in doing the healthy thing. Our bodies, minds and souls will reap the rewards if we do.

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