Tag Archives: Health

The Power of a Smile

Vacations have the ability to be both wonderful and highly stressful at the same time. Things fall through and your expectations are not met, and without realizing it, the grumpy look steals across your face.

I had a great time in Oregon a few weeks ago, but there were a few hiccups during our trip. For example, we got into Portland after midnight (2am home time) and we are more than ready to check into our hotel and go to bed. But when we arrived at the counter, they told us they had overbooked and had no room for us (panic!). So we were shipped off to another hotel and finally went to bed around 1:30am.

Not a great start to our vacation.

Then the next morning I had to go get our rental car from downtown Portland (half the price if we picked it up there, so being the budget conscious people we are, we went with that option). This country girl hasn’t driven in a big city in a loooong time. Cue another panic attack, this time in the middle of traffic. By the time I got back to our hotel, I was frazzled.

Dan and I don’t fight a lot, maybe 2-3 times a year. But between energetic kids (hey, they’ve been trapped in a car for 8 hours, airport for a couple more, and now a hotel), no sleep, bad coffee, and shot nerves, we were at each other’s throats.

At one point, I stormed into the bathroom. I was done. Then I caught a glance of myself in the mirror and recoiled back. I looked awful, not because of lack of makeup or a bad hair day, but because what I was feeling inside was definitely showing on the outside. And it was ugly.

Smile.

The thought popped into my head.

No way! I don’t feel like smiling.

Just smile, the voice kept urging.

Wow, it felt like I was lifting a hundred pounds with my lips. I forced my mouth to curve upward until I looked like my old self again.

Let me tell you, it was an amazing transformation. My heart felt lighter, I looked better, I felt better.

From that moment on, I decided I was going to smile the entire trip. Every time I realized my lips had dipped down, I forced them back up. I wanted to be beautiful, both on the inside and the outside, and knew from my mirror experience that a smile could do that.

And it worked. It helped me refocus on what mattered, on enjoying my time instead of letting setbacks make me grumpy, and being an overall nice person to be around.

My trip is over, but I learned a huge lesson from it. Smiling changes us. Maybe some people can fake a smile, but I can’t. If I am going to smile, I have to change my attitude first. What a difference that little action made, both in my heart and across my face.

So I challenge you to smile today, especially when you don’t feel like it. Trust me, it will make a world of difference inside of you 🙂

 

Health and Godliness

https://i2.wp.com/www.sxc.hu/pic/m/c/cw/cwcav/489121_elliptical_trainers.jpgIs health and godliness the same thing? What I have seen recently makes me wonder if Christians are interlinking the two. The verse I have seen in defense of this is Proverbs 31:25 “She is clothed with strength and dignity.” The implied message is a godly woman is a strong woman, a fit woman. But does God really require women (and men) to be physically fit and healthy in order to be godly? I do not believe so.

In 1 Timothy, Paul tells Timothy, “On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7b-8 NASB, emphasis mine)

Why is that? I believe it is because exercise and healthy living can only go skin deep. It scratches the surface of who we are. Yes, it is of some profit; after all, science has shown that good health can lead to more energy, wellness, and potentially longer life. But healthy living does not reach the heart. And it is in the heart where many of our fears and worries live, such as:

  • Eating disorders,
  • The struggles we have with our bodies,
  • Images that bombard us the moment we are born (my daughter, 8 years old, is already STRUGGLING with this!),
  • Believing that God loves us because deep down, we hate ourselves,
  • The voices inside our mind that tell us if we just work out a little more, eat a little more healthy, get that plastic surgery/breast job, we will finally look good too.

Exercise and healthy living can also be temporary: sickness comes, or you have a baby and your body changes, the time you used to have for the gym is now taken up by your children. Or simply the world’s standards for beauty and health change.

However, godliness is permanent. It changes both the heart and the body. It frees us to be who God made us to be. And reminds us that God loves us. He loves us despite the lumps, the bumps, the extra folds of skin, the stretch marks, the love handles, the size 14 pants, the double chin, and the poochy belly. Time and age will not diminish godliness. In fact, it grows in beauty as we allow God to transform our hearts. Isn’t that so freeing!

So am I saying it is bad to be healthy? Not at all. But I do not believe it is a requirement of God. Godliness, contentment, a life of truth and integrity, a serving and giving heart, these are the things God desires and are worth pursuing, because they profit us both in this life and the next.

 

Book Review: The Emotionally Healthy Church

I began reading The Emotionally Healthy Church a couple months ago when Dan asked me to read it with him. Then life happened. The book found its way to the bottom of a pile of books on my nightstand. I noticed it again a couple weeks later. After I finished it I knew I wanted to share this book with all of you.

Despite the title, this book is for everyone (not just pastors or church leadership). As I said last week, we as Christians tend to focus on the spiritual, physical, and intellectual sides of our being, but rarely take a look at the emotional part of our being. This is not healthy. We are not like Data from Star Trek who, with a tweak of his neck, can shut off his emotions at will (as much as I wish otherwise ;p).

Instead of recognizing and learning to deal with our emotions, we bury them. I believe in the Christian community we view emotions with suspicion or worse, as sinful. Peter Scazzero addresses this issue. In The Emotionally Healthy Church, he talks about his own journey as a pastor; how he learned that the emotional baggage he carried from his past, his family, and trying to please everyone almost shipwrecked his marriage and his ministry.

This book has been insightful and helpful on the emotional roller coaster I have been on recently. It covers topics such as grieving and loss, boundaries in ministry, learning to forgive, etc… in a biblical and healthy way.  I am learning to be honest with how I feel, both with God and myself instead of burying the hurt and anger. In turn God is healing my heart, expanding my capability to love, and showing me how I can comfort others who are hurting.

I definitely recommend The Emotionally Healthy Church.