Friend, we're going to get deep here for a hot minute.
Did you know that health is so much more than just the state of your body?
I didn't learn that until I went through everything I talked about in this blog post. I didn't know how deep true health really goes until I experienced it for myself.
Being a healthy person is so much more than eating healthy food, working out on a regular basis, and making sure every process is functioning the way it's supposed to. Being healthy, really and truly healthy, is about your soul too.
I believe that "you are what you eat", but you also are what you feed your soul. And just as your physical health can be a reflection of where your spirit is at, you spiritual health can have a significant impact on your physical body.
As a Christian, I have found this to be true in my own life. I am not just a body, and I am not just a soul. I am both. When I am nourishing my body, but not nourishing my soul by reading Scripture, praying, or spending time in fellowship with other believers, it is impossible for me to be at the peak of health. The same goes if I am nourishing my soul, but not taking care of my body. If, as a result of my carelessness, I am physically weak or sick, my spirit suffers as well.
Health is a body and soul state of being. You cannot neglect one or the other and expect to fully thrive. They are so intertwined that it is impossible to separate them (though many people try).
This quote from William Law, an eighteenth century theologian, says it perfectly:
"Since we are neither all soul nor all body, seeing none of our actions are either separately of the soul or separately of the body, seeing we have no habits but such as are produced by the actions both of our souls and bodies, it is certain that if we would arrive at habits of devotion or delight in God, we must not only meditate and exercise out souls, but we must practice and exercise our bodies to all such outward actions as are conformable to these inward tempers."
All that being said, I do want to add that there are many people out there that struggle with chronic illness and diseases. I realize that it is not always possible for someone to reach a physically healthy state. If that is you, my heart goes out to you, friend. I won't pretend to know what you're going through, or that I have a solution for you, although I wish I did. But God knows your struggles. Your weaknesses, and mine for that matter, are not without purpose. Though our earthly bodies may fail, God is still faithful to accomplish His works through us.
"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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
So, why does being healthy, body and soul, matter anyway?
Our bodies are gifts from God for us to use to do His work here on earth. We are only given one body, one earthly life to live. If we do not properly tend to our bodies, how will we be able to properly accomplish what God has called us to do to? If we are not abiding in Christ, soaking up His word and growing in our faith, how then will we be able to pour out to others?
The short answer? We won't. It's impossible.
You may be thinking, "Okay, I get it Rachel, but what does all this have to do with homemaking?"
Well, it has everything to do with homemaking, actually.
If you are a homemaker, you know it is no easy task. "Homemaker" is short for wife, mom, cook, maid, nurse, chauffer, caretaker, teacher, coach, counselor, friend, confidant, scheduler, advocate, mediator, etc. etc. etc.
It is a high calling, and not one to be taken lightly.
But let me tell you something, friend. I have found that this life as a homemaker, this humble form of everyday worship, is much less overwhelming and much more rewarding when my body and soul are strong and nourished.
I love these verses in 2 Timothy:
"Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work."
To pursue health in any area of your life is to get rid of those dishonorable, unhealthy things that literally or figuratively weigh you down and keep you from being "ready for every good work".
There are plenty of good works to be done in the home. Just a glance at your to-do list will tell you that (and yes, even changing diapers and washing dishes are good works!). However, if you are exhausted, grumpy, stressed, or discouraged, chances are those things aren't going to get done. I know I've struggled with that more than I ever thought I would, especially during this last year.
But that is exactly why I believe body-soul health matters so much as a homemaker.
I want to be ready for every good work God has put before me. I desire the passion and zeal to accomplish those tasks, and the strength and energy to do them well.
Do you desire those same things? If you do, here are a few practical tips and habits to implement into your life that will help you get started on your own journey to true health.
1. Feed your soul with God's Word on a daily basis. It is so, SO important to consistently spend time with your Savior. Read your bible. Listen to scripture-based worship music (I love Keith and Kristyn Getty). Plug in a sermon podcast when you're on the go. If you are struggling in this area (we all do at one point or another), the accountability of a bible study or small group can be a big help.
2. Feed your body with real, whole foods on a daily basis. I'm talking veggies, leafy greens, clean meats, and fresh fruit. Make things from scratch whenever possible. Stay away from processed and packaged foods - those almost always contain more preservatives and chemicals than they do real food. When in doubt, read the label. If you can't pronounce the ingredients, don't put it in your mouth. Your body will thank you.
3. Get enough sleep. I've mentioned this quite a few times already on The Little Homeplace, mostly because it's something I've struggled with, but it's worth mentioning again. Sleep is so important for our digestion, hormones, skin, mood, energy, etc. And most of us don't get enough of it. For the next week or two, make it a priority to get in bed early and see how awesome you feel.
4. Drink more water. Just like most people don't get enough sleep, most people don't drink enough water either. We live with digestive issues, skin problems, and fatigue, all of which can stem from dehydration. Drinking more water, especially first thing in the morning, will help your body flush out toxins, give your skin a healthy glow, and stabilize your energy levels. Don't like the taste of water? Add a slice of lemon or another fruit, try a cup of green or herbal tea, or make some homemade bone broth.
5. Make time for fellowship. I am an introvert by nature. I used to be painfully shy. Thankfully, God has grown me out of that and I have been reminded over and over of the benefits of spending quality time with other believers. Are you feeling down or discouraged? Text a friend and meet them for coffee. A heart-to-heart conversation will do wonders for your spirit.
6. Make time for exercise. Yes, you have the time. Stop making excuses and just do it (I'm talking to myself here too!). Find a workout that you enjoy doing and make it a part of your routine. Even just a quick twenty minutes of a HIIT style workout, or a brisk walk or jog with your dog (my personal favorite) is a great way to get your blood pumping, boost your mood, and burn a few calories. Plus, if you're into multi-tasking, it's also a great time to listen to a sermon or some worship music to exercise your soul at the same time.
7. Say no. Are there possessions, foods, commitments, relationships, or habits that are keeping you from body-soul health? Get rid of them. Cross them off your calendar. Clean them out of your pantry. Cleanse your life from those things that are weighing you down so that you can be ready for every good work.
8. Say yes. I am a firm believer in enjoying the little things in life, and I hope you are too. Stop rushing around and take time to breathe. Do things that you and your family enjoy. Be present in all those little life-moments. Don't be afraid to change your plans or ditch them all together when a fun or exciting opportunity pops up. A little flexibility can really go a long way.
9. Be thankful. One of my favorite things to do in the morning is to write down five things that I'm thankful for. Gratitude has a way of guiding our hearts and our minds back to where they should be: focused on Christ and his abundant grace in our lives. I encourage you to start your own gratitude journal. Take a few minutes each day to write down at least five things that you are thankful for and you will be amazed at how quickly your perspective on life will change.
10. Remind yourself why. Why are you on this journey to health? For me, my main purpose was to have the ability to better glorify God with my life. Poor physical and spiritual health has kept me from doing that. I wanted to be ready and willing to do those good works he has called me to in my marriage, in my home, in my church, and in my relationships with others. So what is your purpose? Write it out and stick it on the fridge or your bathroom mirror to keep it fresh in your mind.
In addition to those ten tips, I also wanted to share a few more of my favorite verses that have encouraged me on my own journey. It is my prayer that they encourage you on yours!
"Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" 1 Thessalonians 5:23
" So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31
"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
"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." Romans 12:1
Have you struggled with your physical and/or spiritual health? How has it affected your life? What things have helped you overcome these struggles? Comment down below and let's talk about it!