Building your body and soul 

by Resa Berry

If you had a car for your entire family and it was the only way to get to work, to church, to the grocery store, and to your children’s school activities, you would probably do everything in your power to ensure that car lasts. You would never miss an oil change. You would never ignore the “Check Engine” light. You would never disregard something so important to your livelihood. 

Your body is like that imaginary car. It’s your one vehicle for life, so in what ways can you care for the health of your “engine”? 

Living healthily means nurturing yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually. Such a lifestyle cannot be reduced to a number. It’s not extreme fitness and performance. As with all relationships, including your walk with Jesus, they take work and develop over time. It’s a lifetime endeavor of learning, adapting, and balancing. 

My health journey started 22 years ago at the Academy of Martial Arts in Arizona. My first dream was to become a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) trainer like my coaches, but I didn’t become a certified personal trainer until after my first daughter was born. 

I struggled with anxiety and post–partum depression, but when I found that exercise alleviated my symptoms, I felt impassioned to help others who also felt utterly lost and out of control. A few years later, I became a certified nutrition coach and, more recently, a sports performance specialist. 

Like many people, the journey hasn’t always been easy for me. But once I developed a personal relationship with health and fitness, I discovered ways to stay committed to achieving long–term success. The key for me was Ezekiel 46:9: “When the people of the land come before the Lord at the appointed feasts, whoever enters by the north gate to worship is to go out the south gate; and whoever enters by the south gate is to go out the north gate. No one is to return through the gate by which he entered, but each is to go out the opposite gate.” 

When we carve out time to focus on our health and spirit, we are not to go back as we came but emerge with increased holiness. We must exit the space differently than how we entered it. 

Connect with yourself and with God. My special time for doing this begins at 4 a.m. when the house is quiet. After an hour of exercise, meditating, and talking (and sometimes crying) to God, I’m not the same. 

Each morning, an overwhelming wave of mental clarity comes over me. My sessions help stabilize my mood, so I feel more in control throughout the day, no matter the circumstances at home or work. 

Time with Jesus changes me, and it can change you too. As a vessel restored whom God can use, you’ll be ready to be the person everyone needs. 

Any activity you choose will help increase your lifespan and quality of life. Start viewing health as a priority and through the lens of life–long learning and transformation. In addition to weight loss, you’ll also see the many benefits such activities can bring to your life: 

  • Feel and move better 
  • Increase stamina to do what you love 
  • Keep up with your children 
  • Sleep better 
  • Improve self–esteem 
  • Gain a positive outlook 
  • Develop physical competence 
  • Strengthen your resilience 
  • Sharpen your memory 
  • Slow biological aging 
  • Reduced symptoms of depression, anxiety, and ADHD. 

Walking more is the simplest and most affordable way to build a healthy habit. Start with 10–minute walks at least 5 times per week. This is a great routine and an excellent foundation to build on. After–dinner walks have proven to be effective in recent studies and can help bring glucose down. Enjoy a solo walk while listening to a devotional or bring the family out for some screen–free bonding time. 

Start the journey by finding what works for you – what you think is joyful and fulfilling. Find ways to combine physical activity with something spiritually nourishing that can realistically last a lifetime. 

For example, if you consistently read a devotional each morning, include some exercise afterward to create a balanced routine. Remember that your body is a vessel. It holds your mind, soul, and spirit. It carries life and sustains it. It’s more important than that imaginary car. Dig deep and search for the real reason that intrinsically motivates you, and continually re–dedicate yourself to that commitment throughout your journey. 

The Life of the Body: Physical Well–Being and Spiritual Formation

By Valerie E. Hess and Lane M. Arnold 

This book is a beautifully written invitation to a new way of experiencing God with your whole body and soul. In profound ways, the unity of the body with the soul influences our walk with Christ. The two are strongly connected. The heart speaks to the body; the body speaks to the heart. 

This concept connects deeply to the heart of Jesus. In this compelling read, you’ll discover simple and effective ways to be useful in the Kingdom of God by developing health habits, such as exercise and proper nutrition, into practical evangelism tools and spiritual formation exercises. 

“Each of us can be a witness to God’s love and goodness by living joyfully and creatively. We seek to be healthy and full of life because our Savior was. Being as healthy and joyful as possible, as individuals and members of the body of Christ, we are powerful testimonies: physically, relationally, spiritually, creatively, emotionally, and mentally. Physical life supports our spiritual formation that in turn nurtures our physicality.” 

What would your body say if it could communicate God’s goodness in your life right now? Unfortunately, a lack of care for your body and soul can hinder your witness to the abundant life of Christ. Through this encouraging read, we can learn how to become as healthy as possible. Then, Christ’s body here on earth remains a vital witness to the wholeness and fullness of the good news of Jesus Christ. 

Read more from the latest issue of SAconnects.