The reality is that no matter how we try to separate the two, the fact remains that a significant part of our soul care MUST include caring for our bodies. Just as with the practice of a more authentic Sabbath, this is an area that is not easy for me. Perhaps the reasons I re-launched my blog with this series on soul care is because putting my own struggles “out there” makes them real, and can encourage me towards a direction of doing something about it. No matter how we try to swing it- God created us as living moving beings and created us intricately in the form of the human body. God also used the lineage of our families- for better or worse- in that amazing process of forming our bodies. No matter what excuses we find, we need to find ways to ensure we can care for our bodies. It may be little things at first, but even the tiniest of steps are still steps. (Something I have to remind myself of constantly) I think that there’s often too much emphasis on the spiritual/mental/emotional health realm, forgetting how important our physical bodies are in that process.
CONFESSION: I know I’m not exactly the perfect person to write about this. I admit right here and now that I don’t get this right a lot, but I’ve been working on it a great deal this past year since moving, starting a new job, and finishing seminary. I can say that the steps I’ve taken aren’t drastic, and that my physical body doesn’t LOOK like I’ve been more active and making better nutritional choices, but I do FEEL the impact of those changes. Now if only I could get myself on a regular sleep schedule- a project that my poor mother will tell you has failed since my birth! Still I recognize that writing about self-care and soul care would be hollow without bringing up how we take care of our bodies.
Student Ministry is a challenging field in which to work, and uphold healthy habits simultaneously. One night at a Young Life Club event, I found myself trying to down a bowl of Lucky Charms doused in Mountain Dew. When I was in full-time youth ministry, the first church I worked at had a specific McDonald’s and Chinese place which were the “go-to” places for meeting with leaders and teens alike. It “upgraded” to Wendy’s when I began at a new church. I live in MA, which means constant meetings at any one of the numerous Dunkin’ Donuts locations. Never mind the goodies and snacks parents bring for regular youth nights and events! I’ve had some good conversations with friends about finding ways to change those habits to healthier ones like walking in public parks, or maybe even if you share memberships to the area YMCA working out together while meeting. It is not only healthy for you, but it’s also setting a great example for kids and families.
It’s not always easy, and I confess that in the month since I’ve graduated and been trying to get back into “new normal” schedule, it’s been hard to keep up the good habits I had formed during the school year, but It’s important to recognize its importance! Here’s a great short post from Christ Schaffner with the basic “how to” checklist for keeping up care of our physical selves so that our whole self can thrive in making a difference in the lives of others!