Give Jesus Center-stage in Your Totally Healthy Living Plan
You’ve probably heard the adage that lightning never strikes twice. Well, there is also the thought that no one ever gets struck twice with life-altering chronic illness, but it did. It happened to me. Once with fibromyalgia in 2002, and then mixed collagen vascular disease in 2017. My life came to a screeching halt twice. Then I had to reconsider my course of direction. God used those events to give me a whole new perspective on healthy living and weight management.
I often discover from interactions with people online and in Healthy Lifestyle groups what the general Christian mindset is when it comes to weight loss and healthy living. I’ve encountered some exceptions, though. The reason many come for workshops and groups is to look and feel better. While those reasons are all well and good, they often compartmentalize the four aspects of their lives. Weight loss or health improvement stand alone with the self-driven motivation for doing something about it. Faith is off in its own corner, like on Sundays or just in daily private devotions. Ne’er do these two intersect. In short, many Christians’ goals are more self-focused like non-Christians. Why do we leave Jesus out of our healthy weight loss plans?
Let’s look at some lessons I learned to see the shift I made, and how you can make that paradigm shift for totally healthy living with Jesus happen.
Getting “Me” Out of the Way
I felt at the top of my game in my late 30’s until I found myself stuck in bed, practically unable to move without horrible pain throbbing throughout my body. The fatigue was relentless. I had been proud of my accomplishments. I liked being physically fit wearing size 4 women’s clothing. I had a real waist! I could keep up with the 20-somethings. While I lay in bed with tears streaming down my face, I tried to figure out how to move forward with my life and keep my gym job. During the first hit with chronic illness, I realized that all I accomplished was by the grace of God, not of my own works. He could give it, and He could take it away, blessed be the Lord (Job 1:21).
Lesson 1: Get out of God’s way to let Him shine through you. You aren’t the star. He is.
After a while, God allowed me to rebuild my health to a functional level, then finally back to an athletic. I was very grateful to Him that I could continue working in health and fitness. Regaining athletic fitness levels was icing on the cake living with fibromyalgia. Healthy eating was, and still is, very important for me to manage pain and fatigue. Exercise is also critical to recover my energy, strength and manage pain. But more importantly, I could trust God with my health, which gave me greater peace.
Lesson 2: Develop an attitude of gratitude to the Lord for all you can do and who you are. This is key to switching places with Jesus on the throne of your heart.
The second hit reminded me that my body was not my own, but I was bought with the price of Jesus’ blood shed for my sins (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). I’ve not been able to regain my previous fitness levels even though my health condition is well-managed. I can do more physically than many with this autoimmune disease and fibromyalgia. He allows me to continue serving Him by helping Christians learn how to be good stewards of their bodies.
God has a different plan for me than what I had for myself, so His plan takes center-stage. My main healthy weight goal is to stay in sizes 6-8, maintain a basic fitness level, and function well. I don’t focus on looking perfect or take pride in all I can do. Changing my goals helps me focus on balancing home life, caregiving, writing, and teaching groups. By doing so, I take care of my basic needs to minister to loved ones and neighbors while ministering to you. Jesus is my, “Why?”
Lesson 3: Letting go of my own agenda allows God to work His good purposes through me. Jesus must be my reason for everything I do, including what I do with my body.
Lying on the sofa for a long time after the second hit, I realized that God’s plan for me must take priority. First, I had to yield all of myself to His agenda. He called me to write. In order to move forward with that call, I had to give up my own plans. Over the past few years, I’ve pursued that call, but amazingly He also allows me to help other Christians learn to live totally healthy lifestyles by giving Jesus His rightful place. It’s highly unlikely I will ever do Russian-style kettlebells, Bootcamp workouts, or break boards and bricks with my bare hands and feet. I’ll probably never wear size 4 again. You know what? It’s okay. I’ve found peace with this reality.
What does this mean for you?
Step back for a moment. Consider your “Why?” Why do you want to lose weight and improve your health? Is it all about you and what you want, or is it to be better able to serve God and others? Are you reading this because the Holy Spirit led you here? Is Jesus in the center-stage of your life? Here are ways you can begin making this paradigm shift:
- Begin reading the Bible or doing devotions while you eat your breakfast. Begin your day with God. Pray over your meal, thanking Him for all He has given you. Ask the Lord if you are fueling your body with what honors Him. With prayerful consideration, digest the devotional’s message for your day.
- Ask the Lord, “What would you have me do to get out of the way of your plan for me? When you step on the scales. When you get dressed for your day. When you work out in the gym, ask God for His will for your life. Give your plan to Jesus, and ask Him to rework it to match His plan for you.
- Pray and reflect whether God’s character is displayed in your life. Think through how you can be more like Christ. Let go of being a goddess in the gym to be the child of God that He’s called you to be. Drop Hindu and Buddhist practices that elevate self rather than God, our Creator and Sustainer of Life. Begin practicing the classic spiritual disciplines for Christ-centered wellness.
- Ask Jesus for opportunities to extend His love to people around you through various acts of service. Start taking care of your basic needs to be better able to help people around you. Begin looking for the image of God in the people you meet, your coworkers, your neighbors, and your family.
- Begin thanking the Lord for what you can do because you won’t be able to do it one day. Your body belongs to Jesus because He paid the price for your sins to give you a new life. Whether you develop a chronic illness or not, you will eventually decline in your physical abilities. The aging process will change your body during the fall and winter seasons of life. Learn how to make the most of those seasons with a grateful heart.
How is the Lord reworking your life to set your priorities in order? What will you need to give up to give Jesus the center-stage of your life: physical, relational, mental, and spiritual? If you are struggling to figure out how, I am available to help you through Christian wellness coaching or any of our Healthy Lifestyle plans. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May God greatly bless you as you give Jesus center-stage in your healthy living plan!