Have you ever been discouraged because your desired health and fitness results weren’t coming fast enough? We like results now! We are into quick fixes and life hacks. That’s the American way, is it not? (Hello, Instant Pot.) And we embrace this mindset regarding health and fitness as well.
Growing in Spiritual Health
Let’s take a step back for a moment and consider spiritual health. What about the Jesus way? What does Jesus say about growing spiritually? Here’s the deal, upon first look, it’s not inspiring. It’s not exciting. It’s not fast. And it certainly is not easy. Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Following Jesus is not a one-time thing. If you have been walking with Jesus for some time, you know that. It requires faithfulness, discipline, and perseverance every single day. Yet, we are given supernatural grace and strength for those qualities to grow.
As I learn from God’s Word and from the people around me, I often see the themes of process and faithfulness. God’s timing is rarely in line with my own. God often works in the slow and steady. I can only imagine the painful waiting of the Israelites as they wandered in the desert and God’s people waiting for the Messiah during those four hundred years of silence. Even nature reminds us that T-I-M-E is required for growth (I’ll show you my fiddle leaf fig tree if you have doubts). I don’t see a God who offers life hacks. He offers guidance, strength, and his very own presence in the growing and waiting.
Growing in Physical Health
I want to challenge you to apply that same mindset as you approach your physical health. It does not matter if you are an athlete or a college student, or if you are elderly or chronically ill. Choosing health does not mean you have arrived at a certain number or size. Health is a journey every human is taking, like it or not. It’s a long journey, one that you will participate in until the day the Lord calls you home.
So, what does it look like to choose faithfulness over quick fixes? What does it look like when I am too tired to cook and just want takeout? How do I apply correct thinking when I have a date with a yoga mat but what I really want is to binge-watch a show?
1. The Goal Is Growth
It’s a lot of work to protect our minds from worldly messages! Christian, you are not a stranger to this. You do it all the time regarding sin issues, political movements, and media images. I want to encourage you to put diets and workouts under that umbrella! Protect your mind from the messages the world is sending you about your body, your health, and the timeline you should be on.
The goal is growth! Growth is always a process. Reframe your desires for health with a growth mindset. Are you looking to drop weight? Are you looking to cut bad eating or drinking habits? Do you need to limit yourself to a strict diet because of serious health conditions? Growth and health are possible, but they will not be fast or easy. So, practice healthy habits you will be able to stick to and enjoy in the long run.
2. Something Is Better Than Nothing
This has become my fitness motto. To all the overachievers out there, please don’t laugh. I’m serious. I truly believe it. Even if your mind doesn’t like this approach, your body does! Did you know that a brisk, 45-minute walk dips into your fat reserves, burning visceral fat that contributes to heart disease and diabetes? Even Vitamin D from that sun you’ll enjoy is reason enough to take a simple walk. “Little” choices are not so little after all.
Should you lift weights to build muscle and bone density? Yes. Should you look into your sugar intake or gut health? Yes, again. However, don’t let big challenges overwhelm you and keep you from making a small change right now. Debating between a bowl of ice cream or a bowl of fresh fruit? You know what to do. That one little choice is not insignificant!
3. Don’t Give Up
It sounds exhausting, doesn’t it? Every day. Every snack. Every workout you put on the calendar. Every party and every dessert. Each one is an opportunity to choose faithfulness. If you hear that Theodore Roosevelt quote ringing in your head about “Nothing worth having comes easy,” well, he was right. Most good things do take hard work and prayer. But guess what? Faithfulness cultivates habits, and before you know it, those choices lessen in difficulty.
Faithfully Improving Your Physical Health
My friend, I want this for you! I am cheering you on as you prep veggies and lace up your running shoes. Let’s not forget your biggest fan, the One who not only celebrates your faithfulness but helps you to be faithful. He is with you and for you, and he is your strength! Lean into Jesus and lean into that muscle you’ve been exercising in other areas of your life—faithfulness. Psalm 119:30 says, “I have chosen the way of faithfulness.” May that be said of you and me. Choosing faithfulness is not choosing perfection, it’s choosing to stay in the fight.