When I hear the word “wellness”, I immediately think of health and doctors and sterile offices. It’s funny how seemingly innocuous words can carry with them such a strong context that they can have no other application (at least in my mind). I was fortunate enough this weekend to spend a little time with both my dad and my brother as we all caught up and talked about life and such. At one point, my dad began to talk about how the emphasis he places on his physical health and strength, as well as his emotional health, play a role in his ability to lead at work. Having read Pete Scazzero’s “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality,” I couldn’t help but to see that my dad was really referring to wellness, nor could I help but to think about its role in faith. But what am I making such a big deal about here?
And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” — Luke 10:27
Wellness was big to Jesus
THe words above are the words of a young lawyer answering Jesus how he read the Word of God. You see, loving God is a holistic act, encompassing mind, body, and spirit. It requires each to be fit, ready to perform at its peak to worship best our awesome Father.
Physical wellness is to give
The fact is, if the body is not fit, then we’re not able to give our all to God. Plain and simple, we’re not fit, so our ability, dare I say, our performance will suffer. And we are under no compulsion to perform for God, but a life of loving Him will inherently manifest itself in a life of serving those around us. Without physical wellness, this means diet, sleep and exercise, we are hamstringing our efforts.
Emotional wellness is to love
If there is a gaping hole in your heart from childhood hurts or the one that got away, then how can you love anyone, let alone God, with a whole heart? If we don’t strive after emotional wellness, we are unable to attain the core of Christianity, or really any monotheistic faith: we cannot possibly love God. It’s a simple fact, yet so many of us walk around with hearts full of emotional bomb blasts and bullet holes as if there is nothing wrong. Of course, I could just be making this up to keep you reading…
Spiritual wellness is life
Spiritual wellness is what connects us ultimately to God. If we do not at our cores recognize the fact that we desperately need God, we are dead. To the atheists out there, feel free to push back against this assertion, but Jesus is life and living without even a breath of His life-giving grace is one closer to our death. Coming to terms with the fact that on our own we are inadequate at times, incapable, unworthy even, but this is not our fate.
Wellness isn’t all about us
I said that spiritual wellness is about recognizing our limitations and imperfections, but this isn’t our fate. This is because we have Jesus and the Holy Spirit making us well day by day. Ultimately, God will allow us and enable us to become spiritually well, but this wellness has to be accompanied by efforts in the other aspects of physical and emotional wellness. We have to take an earnest interest in our well-being. Again, the real work isn’t what we’re doing, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. No, the real work is heart change, but God does that literally without lifting a finger. This is our God.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. — Romans 12:1–2
I’ll admit, I have some work to do physically, emotionally, spiritually, friends. In fact, I have my work cut out for me, but the work of wellness is a noble occupation, more importantly, one that requires community. And that is what I’m looking to build right now. I’ve come to the conclusion that I am broken, in need of the Physician, and in need of a good pair of crutches to help get me to Him. Along the way, hopefully I’ll be able to serve others in a similar fashion. Together, we’ll become well. Together, we’ll bask in the life of love that is wellness, worshipping with joy our Father who surpasses words and understanding. Be well, my friends.