Last week, we talked about adding 10 min. of prayer for others at 10 p.m. through the 10@10 Campaign as a way of restoring your soul.
This week, we’re going to talk about how to restore your body.
“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16
Your Body Is God’s Creation
As Creative Orthodox pointed out recently, Abba Poemen is quoted to have said, “We have not been taught to kill our bodies, but to kill our passions.”
It is the desire of the flesh that is unholy, not the body itself.
Your body was created by God and is wondrous and is called to a purpose. It should be a weapon in the arsenal of the soul for doing good. It has eyes to bear witness to injustice, lips to speak out against evil, hands to do good works, feet to visit those in need.
Christ rebuked the Pharisees saying, “First cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also” (Matthew 23:26). Does this not also apply to our bodies? We should cleanse our inner lives–our thoughts and hearts. We should set them aright through prayer and fasting. Those are by far the priorities.
But in this terrible age of sloth and inaction, shouldn’t we also respect the body that we have been gifted by God through moderate, balanced eating and good, edifying activity?
First Glass Challenge
In order to take a strong first step to restoring your body, commit to taking the First Glass Challenge with us.
What is the First Glass Challenge?
Before you break your fast, every day of this Nativity season, drink one full glass of water with a heart of thanksgiving to God.
Before your coffee, before your croissant, before your foul sandwich–or however you break your fast–drink one full glass of water.
While you drink, say a prayer of thanksgiving to God.
For example, I’m going to say: “Lord, I was bought at a price. Let me honor You with my body” (1 Corinthians 6:20). But there are so many excellent verses to pray here… Pick a prayer or verse you love and stick with it.
Just like with the 10@10, set a reminder in your phone right now for the time you usually break your fast. No judgment here–whether it’s 8 a.m., 12 p.m. or 5 p.m. Take your spiritual canon and health restrictions into account.
Why take the First Glass Challenge?
The First Glass Challenge is easy and healthy–and water is so vital to our health. Yet, we rarely get enough of it. During the fast, one of the biggest struggles I have seen people face is remembering to stay hydrated and getting enough water after breaking their (often loooong) fasts.
With the First Glass Challenge at the beginning of your day, and the 10@10 Campaign at the end, you’ll be on track for Nativity 2017.
The Fruit of Obedience
Perhaps you have heard it before, the story of St. John Colobos “planting” a stick and watering it faithfully for three years at the behest of his spiritual elder until it grew, blossomed, and bore fruit. The part we often gloss over is that to water the stick meant getting water from 12 miles away. (Don’t tell me spiritual people don’t exercise.)
I often think about that when we are standing in Matins and praying the Litany of the Travelers. It wasn’t that many years ago that most, if not all, travel was done by foot or by donkey. Getting food for the day meant going out and picking it (or butchering it). Getting water meant going out somewhere and pumping it or pulling a full bucket from a well or stream. That’s a lot of exercise.
Yet, here we are, sitting around pretending to be extra holy while letting our bodies waste away, our modern conveniences having done nothing to bring us closer to God.
Here are three more things I’m going to focus on to help restore the body and make it a tool for God’s glory.
Get Some Fresh Air
As a stay-at-home mom, I’m often shocked at how much of the day goes by without me ever having left the house. Yet, fresh air and sunlight are two of the most important elements of my spiritual and emotional health.
I can’t really fold the laundry, reorganize rooms, or cook dinner if I’m outdoors. Even blog posts require that I still still, indoors, for them to come together.
But I can sit outside with my tea (especially in this amazing weather we’re having in Florida these days). I can do some stretches in the backyard. I can take the kids to the park for an hour or take a walk around the neighborhood.
I wonder if you understand what I mean about fresh air and sunlight having an effect on my spiritual health. I wonder if you have noticed the same. Certainly, our spiritual lives shouldn’t be as fickle as the weather, but there is something about making myself aware of the glory of God’s creation that adjusts my spiritual barometer.
Move Just a Little More
I don’t have the privilege of a life that involves walking to a metro station for work, or walking across the street to the bakery, or anything like that. I sit marooned in the middle of a very boring development in an underdeveloped neighborhood. I use my little car for every errand.
Perhaps you’re a stay-at-home parent as well, and you don’t get much excuse to be active. Or perhaps you take your car to an office job and babysit a corporate computer for most of the day.
If you’re like me, you have to find little excuses to move more. You might stand to work at your desk for a bit, maybe even march in place. You might do jumping jacks while the microwave heats your leftovers for lunch (maybe that’s more appropriate at home… hehe). Get a resistance band and do some bicep or tricep work while you sit. Do sit-ups between loads of laundry.
The trick is to find little pockets in your day that you can take advantage of for the sake of your flexibility, strength, and overall well-being.
Quietly Make Small Changes
Whenever I talk to my children about the concepts of good and bad, I always explain that those aren’t static states. You aren’t born good or born bad. Rather, being good is a series of good decisions made, and that being bad is a series of bad decisions made. When I say this, I end with the most important point: At any time, you can make a different, better decision. It’s never too late–for anyone.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is the same–a series of small decisions that walk you in one direction or another. It only takes a few good decisions to put you back on the path to healthy eating.
- Decrease the amount of sugar you put in your tea (or coffee) by half.
- Choose baked or grilled over fried (whether cooking at home or ordering out).
- Say “no, thank you” to seconds.
- Pick up a fruit or vegetable when snack time comes along.
- Have a glass of water instead.
A good decision can become a good habit. And a good habit can become a better lifestyle.
By adding fresh air, a little movement, a few good eating decisions–and of course the First Glass Challenge–to my spiritual canons, I know I’ll find myself feeling better overall by the time January rolls around.