Every January, I pick a word that will help me be intentional about my goals, plans, and dreams for that year. At the beginning of 2020—before the pandemic started—I chose “health” as my word. Like most people making New Year’s resolutions, I wanted to lose a few pounds, eat more healthily, and exercise more. Enter COVID-19, and those goals seemed a little more complicated. But as I look back, I realized I learned not only about my physical health but also about my mind, body, spirit, and overall health.
Prioritizing our health is important to God—even though our earthly bodies are temporary, we’re still supposed to take care of them:
… for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:20 NLT
Honoring God with our body certainly includes our physical health, but we’re missing the point if we neglect our spiritual, mental, and emotional health. In fact, the Apostle Paul tells us that training for godliness (spiritual health) is even more important than physical training:
“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8 NLT
Here’s something to remember: Everyone around you benefits from a healthier version of you. Your marriage, family, work, and friendships will all benefit when you take care of your health.
Here are three things I learned while taking care of my health:
1. You’re going to need other people. Having people around you who share your goal is a powerful motivator! This is why Galatians 6:2 tells us to “carry each other’s burdens.” And even if you can’t meet in person, you can still connect meaningfully. Throughout the year, I would regularly text and call one of my best friends with updates on my health journey, and he would do the same. We would encourage—and challenge—each other in our progress and goals.
Sometimes, you’re going to need to bring in the pros. Midway through the year, I recognized that I was struggling with my mental health—specifically, recurring anxiety. While I told people close to me what I was dealing with, I also sought the help of a professional counselor—because again, health includes our mind, body, spirit, and emotions.
2. Something is better than nothing. When I first started my health journey, I would spend hours researching the best dieting app or trying to find the best workout routine. I even tried multiple Christian meditation apps for my mental health, only to feel like it wasn’t something I really enjoyed. Eventually, I realized there’s not a “perfect” way to get healthy. The best way to be healthy is to take one small step today toward the progress you want to see tomorrow.
There were days I was disappointed I didn’t have time for that fitness influencer’s hour-long YouTube workout, but I did have time to take a 10-minute walk around my neighborhood.
Start small, and you’ll see progress:
You may not have time to journal for 30 minutes, but you can turn off social media notifications.
You may not be able to cook an elaborate, healthy meal, but you can say no to extra dessert.
You may not be able to run a 5K, but you can probably walk a mile.
3. Always put God first. I didn’t use to be a morning person, and to some extent, I’m still not. But I learned that for me to grow spiritually healthy, I needed to be consistent about reading God’s Word and spending time with Him in prayer. If your life is anything like mine, your day is only going to get busier as it goes on.
I made it a priority to wake up early—before anyone else in my house—and read the Bible using the YouVersion App. Then, I would pray over the day ahead, and ask God for wisdom.
I noticed something interesting happen: When I started my morning with God, the rest of my day felt better. I would be more patient with my toddler. I would be kinder to my wife. I would be less stressed about juggling projects at work. After all, Pastor Craig Groeschel says that our lives are always moving in the direction of our strongest thoughts.
I’ll be honest: Between quarantine snacks and closed gyms due to COVID-19, I didn’t quite achieve all my physical health goals last year. But I’ve learned that checking all the boxes and meeting all the goals isn’t always the point. Instead, I learned to prioritize every part of my health—my mind, body, spirit, and faith. I learned to ask for help when I need it. I learned that God really does care about every part of our lives.
Thankfully, there’s always a new year, new day, and new moment to reach our goals, get healthier, and honor God in the process. So start small. Stay consistent. And keep going. Your mind, body, spirit, and health are worth it.