By Gena Anderson
Most of us have an idea of what being healthy looks like. Though the manifestation in each individual differs, the general idea of a healthy person is consistent. Fit, well, and capable are common descriptions of the healthy. My version of those qualities looks different than yours, but both of us can be described by those words if we possess habits that enable our abilities and enhance our fitness.
The idea of spiritual health feels more mysterious. Upon first thought, it’s a bit challenging to name the qualities of a spiritually healthy individual. But, if we take the idea of general health above and apply it specifically to spiritual health, I think we can start to visualize the spiritually healthy individual.
What does spiritual health look like? I think it’s revealed in the same way physical health is: through our fitness, wellness, and capabilities. The physically fit individual can do what needs to be done, and feel well doing it. Practically speaking, the physically fit person can take out the garbage without feeling out of breath. So, the spiritually fit individual can do spiritual things and feel well doing them. They can live in this world but know they are not defined by it. They allow the Holy Spirit within them to be evident in their actions. They flex the spiritual muscles of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control because they have developed them through regular habits.
“We aren’t capable of taking in all that he is and everything he has to offer in one breath, but we can develop a relationship that will nourish our souls for a lifetime with daily investment.”The Well Woman: a Journey to Wellness Through Loving Jesus
This is one of my favorite quotes from my book. The daily spiritual habits are what develops a soul that is well. But where does one start when seeking to pursue spiritual health?
I often see people who want to lose weight start with exercise as their first step, and though exercise can be helpful in weight loss, it should not be the first step. We cannot perform our way into good health, and it is unrealistic to expect to have an output that is vastly different from the fuel we consume. Physical health starts with a choice to pursue it, and is fueled by our daily diet, and only when we have nourished our bodies can we use exercise as a way to train them.
Spiritual health also starts with a choice. If we desire to possess spiritual health we must pursue a relationship with the God who loves us, being fueled by daily consumption of the things of him. Those daily Spiritual investments will manifest in our lives. As we first fill ourselves with God’s truth from time in the Word, in prayer, and in Christian community we can then begin the exercise of learning to allow the Holy Spirit to steer our daily choices. This looks like being able to control our tongue when we are angry or recognizing a sinful desire and stopping it before it becomes a sinful act.
So, consider your own spiritual health. What qualities are on display in your daily life, and which ones are missing? Do you need to change what you are consuming, or maybe improve your digestion and savoring of spiritual nourishment?
Spiritual health isn’t so mysterious after all, and though none of us should expect to be completely spiritually well on this earth, we can seek to be better with each day and improved by each small spiritually healthy choice.