I’ll be the first to admit: I’m not perfect when it comes to applying this healthy living stuff. One of the big struggles of my life is trying to get what’s buried in my head hidden in my heart – I’m overly intellectual and can rattle off a million and one facts to you at any given moment, but to actually put these principles into action? To live them out?
That’s tough stuff for me.
Which is why I keep coming back to these two principles: (1) God is sovereign, and (2) we live under grace. As I work out my salvation, both the understanding of his sovereignty and his grace allow me to run to him with my faulty head-to-heart wiring. Because, after all, he’s the only one who can get things so deep in our hearts that they really change us into his image. And he loves us so much that he is alway, always willing to transform us.
You see, as much as I am passionate about health and nutrition and all things green vegetables, I have always struggled with some of the “dark sides” of these issues: skewed self- and body-image, compulsive eating patterns, and obsession with these things. I’m often on wild swings between over-eating or eating way, way too little. I eat for comfort; I eat to ease stress. And a LOT of my identity is tied to my appearance.
So, I’m not writing from a place of perfection. I’m writing out of my own healing and growth process.
It’s only been a few months that I’ve actually been able to put my philosophy of healthy living as a Christian into words. I’ve always felt it to be important, but wrestled with some of the issues of good stewardship with time, focus on earthly rather than heavenly things, etc.
And one of the major pieces of the puzzle is this next part of my manifesto.
Manifesto for Healthy Living in Christ, Principle II
God created us to be whole beings – wholly under his sovereignty and grace. No part of our lives is meaningless or outside of his reign, including our bodies or our health.
This one came as a lightbulb for me, a driving-in-my-car and suddenly slamming-my-hands-against-the-wheel sort of moment. In all my years of struggling with self-esteem and body-image and eating, the one chorus that had been singing through my heart but that I’d never put into words was this: “These things do not fall under the lordship of Jesus Christ.”
Would I have told you that God created us, body, mind and soul, and wants us to love him, body, mind and soul? Absolutely.
Would I have told you God wanted to reign over every part of our lives? Most definitely.
But as much as I struggled to bring my health into balance, I always subconsciously thought that God wasn’t interested in Jenni’s health that much. That it was too small, too petty, too earthly.
So there, on Nesconset Highway, in Long Island rush-hour traffic, that always gentle, always still voice knocked on my heart: I want to be the God of your everything. And just as there is nothing too big for me, there is also nothing too small. Don’t you think I love you enough to care about every last ounce of you?
So please, please hear this: there is no detail of your life that is too microscopic for God’s caring. Maybe you care less about health and all of the most finely-crafted arguments in the world aren’t going to convince you that it matters. But whatever’s got you obsessed? Whatever makes up the static of your brain waves? Take it to the Throne. He cares.
Now…now I’ve been treating healthy living like I treat my marriage, and my career, and my finances, and my family, and my friends, and I’ve been walking this obsession to the Throne. Every. Single. Day. And committing it to his lordship and grace and asking for healing.
And you know what?
I don’t suddenly have the perfect body.
I’m still a little obsessed.
I’m hyperly self-conscious.
I don’t look all that different on the outside.
But on the inside, there are new pathways blazing from head to heart and I’m HEALING. Real, legitimate, eternity-type healing.
My identity is being rooted deep, deep in the love and joy of Christ.
My confidence is based in his love.
And my choices about health are not for size zero thinness, or youth, or defying death, but (hear this) for his glory.
Not mine. His.
Because here’s the deal. That puritan philosophy that our flesh is part of the bondage of earth, synonymous with sin?
Couldn’t be farther from the truth. We know that God intentionally created us with bodies, and everything he creates is good.
Don’t dichotomize yourself. Don’t you dare divide yourself up into little bits and pieces and then give God three and keep two for yourself. He wants you to love him with your body, heart, soul and mind. Let that sink in a little.
[Here’s where I’ve got a confession for you]
Yesterday, I said that if God wanted our lives to be solely spiritual, he wouldn’t have created us with bodies. But I want to adjust that a little, with this new understanding in mind. I wanted to make that statement so that you could see that God is the God of both the spiritual realm and the physical realm. He is sovereign, and he does things on purpose (like creating a physical realm in the first place).
But here’s my confession: I’m really nit-picky about words, because the Word has the power to bring light and life.
In God’s reality (remember talking about that?), all things are “spiritual.” That is, all things in heaven and on earth and under the earth fall under God’s reign. All things in our life – every meal, every diaper change, every intimate moment, every conversation – happen in a world where God is completely sovereign (are you getting how absolutely, totally important this is?). Which means each moment is a chance to worship and glorify God by submitting to his design.
You can’t follow God wholly without realizing you are a whole being. And he deserves every part of you.
The majority of your life? Is going to be spent doing “small” things, like eating your vegetables and changing your kids’ diapers and going to sleep every night. Hence the subtitle of this blog: living large in a little life. Because when life is lived under the lordship of Christ, every minute moment is infused with eternity, with meaning, with purpose and with grace.
So here’s my challenge: pick up the pieces of yourself that you’ve hidden away in insufficiencies and shame and self-doubt – your body, your marriage, your sex life, your teeth, your nose, your last pinky toe, your grades, your hobbies – everything. And take all those pieces to the throne.
Because you won’t believe what type of masterpiece God can make with a glue-gun and all your little pieces.