Finding health for the whole self can be particularly difficult for military women. In today’s post, Kelli shares how God directed her journey toward that end-state.
Health for the Whole Self
by Kelli Baker
How many times have you felt disappointed watching the number on the scale move up and down? How many fad diets have you immersed yourself in only to be discouraged to realize all the weight you’ve lost has returned in half the time it took to lose?
This is my story.
I’ve dealt with weight issues my whole life. Not so much being overweight, but feeling uncomfortable with the way my body looked. Feeling a twinge in my stomach as I looked at myself in the mirror, getting a glimpse at all the imperfections that glare back at me.
When I stepped foot into MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station), the reality of being a bigger woman in the military hit me hard. I have always been active and athletic, playing sports through high school; so the physical requirements were never an issue for me. However, once I stepped on that scale and learned I exceeded the standard and would have to pass a physical test that required me to step onto a box for five minutes and complete ten pushups, I became even more self-conscious of my body.
This laid the foundation for my career in the military. I would always be one of the women who would need to be taped during height and weight. It took a shift in my mindset to accept this reality and further to embrace a more healthy lifestyle.
A Mindset Shift for Health for the Whole Self
Jesus tells us in Mark 12:30, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Jesus knows that as humans we are more than just an exterior. God created our souls, our minds, and our bodies so he understands the importance of tending to all of these areas rather than focusing only on how our body looks or what the number says on the scale.
Rather than focus on what the exterior of this body looks like, or doesn’t look like, I needed to focus on what my heart – my spirit – looked like. At my worst, I had become so consumed with my outward appearance that I neglected to realize the importance of my spirit within. I began to neglect the responsibilities and blessings God provided for me. This “selfie” mentality had completely taken me out of reality and left me feeling empty and unsatisfied.
I learned that in order to have true rest and be authentically me, I needed to find that place with God where I could be my true self and be okay with that.
In this space, God quieted my spirit and taught me to stop striving to be someone different. Once I was able to release that and accept his gentle reminder that I am a daughter of the one true King and he loves me just as he created me–inside and out–I was able to release the burden I had placed on myself to be someone I am not.
Letting go of the mindset that I have to look a certain way on the outside was true rest for my soul. Letting go of the control and misconception that I have to look a certain way in order to be healthy allowed my soul the rest it so desperately needed.
Proverbs 4:23 tells us to “keep our hearts with all vigilance because from it flow the springs of life.”
The springs of life flow from our hearts!
This is why soul care is necessary.
Neglecting to tend to our souls leaves our hearts dried up. God intended for us to find fulfillment for our souls in him, not in things of this world. We must recognize – like Jesus did – that we are more than just our bodies. We are also mind and soul as well. Neglecting one part of this three-legged stool will cause us to fall. Even the Army has realized the importance of tending to the whole self as well with their recent revisions to FM 7-22 to include more focus on mental and spiritual readiness, only further demonstrating the importance of finding balance.
The balance begins by allowing God to work within our souls which will lead to a shift in our minds where we can choose to treat our bodies as God’s temple. Perfect balance relies on both action as well as rest in all three of these areas. Reaching this perfect balance is a journey and a process, but results in a freedom only God can provide.
Next week we will unpack how I discovered true freedom in my health and wellness journey when I learned that it was more than outward appearance. I’ll show you how God used this holistic approach in my life to not only heal deep wounds, but also how he drew me closer to him through the process.
For more information on finding health for the whole self, visit our Health Resources Page.