If you’re reading this you’re probably ready, or at least contemplating, making some healthy changes. Maybe you feel like your body needs refreshing or your soul needs reviving. Maybe your struggling with healthy habits and need a positive, more empowering approach. Well, I hope you’ve found one here at Happily Whole! But before you begin the 'Challenge', here’s what I want you to hear:
This is all about abundance, not deprivation. It’s about loving on yourself because your body and life are blessings! This idea of 'self-care' has much more to do with 'soul cleansing'. It's much more than lists of rules and creating a ‘perfect’ image staring at back at you from your morning mirror. It is about honoring God with your beautiful body He created IN HIS IMAGE. It’s about real health, inside and out, from a faith-based perspective.
So, put on an attitude of PRAISE and reverence as you prepare to assume the challenge. Perfection is not necessary, but a clear sense of purpose and daily prayer ARE. And I'm suggesting that your number one living-well pursuit should be to shift your perspective from self-gratifying to God-glorifying in areas like weight, health and wellness.
Let’s starting by setting some things down. FOR GOOD. I’m talking about laying a few things down at the foot of the cross where Christ carries them away, far away. Not packing them into a neat little box where you can pick them back up when it suits you. And, no, not hanging them in the back of a closet where you can reach them when the going gets a little tough and your old tendencies seem easier.
You’re doing this differently this time by surrendering this whole wellness thing to your Savior, because He wants to save you from ANYTHING that takes you away from Him. And I believe that, all too often, issues of weight, health and wellness take women away from God because we fail to lay this piece of our lives at His feet. So, it ends up creating stress and anxiety as we try to maintain all the control.
1 Peter 5:7 says, ‘Cast all your anxiety on Him, for He cares for you.’
Go back and read that again…and again…and again. He loves you. He is pursuing EVERY PART of you, not every part except that which you believe you can handle all on your own. This is powerful, ladies! And it can make your entire experience fresh, new and empowering.
Because once you lay everything down, when you finally surrender all, when you learn to TRUST Him with ALL of you, living well becomes a freeing process that glorifies God…instead of becoming your god. Yes, I said it. When we hold something apart from Him and give it too much attention, we make it a god. We have to let that go, giving Him our wellness so when we struggle we call on Him rather than white-knuckling the wheel.
I’m not sure what you need to lay down, but here are some possibilities of things you need the strength to surrender:
- Set down social ideals….go ahead. Put them down. Easy now. That’s right… it doesn’t matter what the magazines say, what the air-brushed internet images boast or even how those horrifying weight charts label you. You are unique and you are wonderfully made! Psalm 139: 14 reminds us: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Can and should we make improvements in our health and human bodies? Absolutely! But, God’s not loving you from the outside. He loves you NO MATTER what you look like now and He won’t love you more as you improve your health. So allow Him to define you wonderfully, not the social standards we see staring at us from the starving red carpet (no offense if you’re a celebrity).
- Relinquish guilt….there’s no glory in feeling guilty. If God can forgive us over and over…and over…and over (ugh…I hope you hear my conviction of my own sins here!), should you not also forgive yourself for failing at the last diet or for ditching the gym for a donut? Psalm 130:4 says: “But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.” Now, THAT sounds good. There is forgiveness with God and there’s no mention that we need to hold fast to feeling guilty. NO, instead this verse says we can SERVE HIM in reverence as we are forgiven. So, as we prepare for this 30 Day challenge, do it in a way that serves and glorifies Him! And remember there is no glory in guilt. You are FREE to serve Him!
- Remove reverence from wellness…. It’s easy in our society to ‘bow down’ to certain styles of eating or new fitness fads. We see something enticing and begin to develop a belief that it will solve our every ‘aesthetic problem’. So, the obsession begins. Or another form of reverence misplaced is when we begin to think about food or exercise far too often. It hijacks our minds so much that we become consumed by our cravings. Well, let me remind you (and, ah hem…let me remind myself), there is only ONE Savior. And if He has the power to save the entire world through His salvation, He most certainly can support you through developing a healthier body and mindset! And He can do it abundantly, with love and in patience. We need not obsess over anything else! Maybe these words right from His lips can help you keep your priorities straight: Luke 4:8 ‘Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'"
- Surrender personal weaknesses in the area of wellness….I don’t know about you, but my weaknesses seem to resurface time and time again. Just when I think I’ve gotten past a certain sin or overcome a sinful tendency, it haunts me again! While I have come a LONG way and I truly love all things wellness, I still struggle with one potentially sabotaging behavior. I LOVE eating sweets in the evening. Seriously! There were times when I was a slave to sweets so much I literally would wake in the morning feeling sick. Well, you may have guessed already but the real problem was not the sensation of sweet treats. It is how I was handling stress and struggle in my life. I had to learn to lay the weight of the day on Him so that would not ruin my health, sabotage my professional passions and undermine the energy I need to live the life He’s calling me to! If I’m not careful, this tendency for me to withhold my worries from him by using food, can easily return. I’m a work in progress and still need to surrender my struggles daily. I urge you to think, write and pray about that. What is your weakness that keeps cropping up? Become keenly aware of it and PUT IT DOWN where He can create a strength in you through it. Keep these verses in a place readily available to encourage you when you feel weak in wellness: 2 Corinthians 12: 8-10 ‘Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.’ Prepare to lean on the Lord when it comes to living well!
There you have it! Use those ideas to begin perparing your mind to surrender before you take a single tangible step. Because when you give anything to Him, He can mold it and create a work of art in you. It will be challenging but it can also be abundantly AMAZING. I hope you feel that! Remember you have a resource here on Happily Whole but that the living WORD, the Bible, is really where your answers to everything are—even your wellness.
Here are a couple things you may want to invest in:
- A journal. I always, always encourage writing. Keep a record or successes, even the minor ones, to celebrate. Write through your struggles. And, in this case, I highly encourage a prayer journal. If you want to keep your approach faith-based, communication with God daily is necessary and writing your prayers can be a powerful way to remain accountable and positive.
- A friend. THIS IS IMPORTANT!! God did not create us in a vacuum. He created us for relationship, with Him and other people. Your experience can be so much more enriching, motivating and productive when you share it with a like-minded friend also going through the process. I’d suggest even finding someone to join with you here so they, too, receive all the tools and support.
- A folder. Either a folder on your computer or a physical folder where you will print and save the information you receive including food lists, Bible references, your Happily Whole newsletters/blog posts, exercise circuits and even your own personal notes. ORGANIZE your process to help make this a priority.
- Happily Whole resources: Beyond what you will receive directly related to this challenge, be sure to LIKE Happily Whole on Facebook and, within the site, ‘Favorite’ recipes and articles that are particularly helpful to you. IMMERSE yourself in supportive information from the HW community to help change your mindset.
Now, for those of you ready to begin, here's your starting block: The Spring Cleaning Challenge