(Photo by Zach Martin)
By Marta Oliveras
BE GENTLE TO YOUR BODIES, were the last words the pastor said on that morning session, just before sending us out for lunch. The words got stuck with me. They were gentle in themselves, indeed a very smooth way to tell us to be wise with our food choices. But probably they got engraved in my memory because they were reflective of what I had been learning so far… that my physical body actually matters more than I thought it did, and that I should steward it with utmost care! But the story goes back some years. Let us rewind a little bit.
I never intentionally neglected my body, but I also never intentionally took care of it. I saw it as my house here on earth, one that I would eventually leave behind, and therefore it didn’t have any eternal value… So why bother? Why make an effort to be healthy if this body is staying behind anyway? Why exercise after work if I have no weight to lose and a couch waiting for me? And what is wrong with sugar for breakfast lunch and dinner? I seriously never even gave any thought to these matters. Maybe I was just young with no reason to worry at all, and honestly many things were done in pure ignorance of how they affected me… However, my behavior was a reflection of the way I understood my body. As I later came to learn, that way was fundamentally wrong.
My mind started to shift when I started to fast. I then realized that the way I treated my body was indeed important, particularly in regards to my food choices. Sugar was my weakness. Or I better say, my addiction. Recently I read that one of the characteristics of an addiction is the fact that you know something is not good for you, but still, you do it anyway. Or in this case, you eat it anyway. At first, I didn’t even know that sugar was basically in everything I was eating. But when I started to dig in and understood the wrong I was doing, still, it has taken me years to change my eating habits! My mom, in her own personal journey, was one day walking through the groceries store wondering what could she buy, when from the Lord she heard “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (1)! A verse straight out of the book of Hosea, perfectly addresses the struggle with food choices many people face today. If only we knew how some choices really affect our bodies and easily evolve to being strongholds in our lives… Did the Lord wake me up to this reality to teach me self-control, give me a better lifestyle or possibly prevent future health issues? I don’t know… Probably all of those!
What I do know is that even though I won’t carry this body as it is to eternity, this body does carry eternal value. It is the temple of the Holy Spirit (2), our house here on earth. It is the way God fearfully and wonderfully made (3) for us to interact with the physical world around us. While we are here, we do have a purpose, a race to run and good works to do (4). Let us then not hinder or even sabotage all that by our lack of knowledge. Instead, let us be responsible and steward well these jars of clay (5)! Let us be wise, and if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach! (6) The good news is, as with everything that we have to go through, that we are not alone. Sure thing it takes determination and discipline to break these kinds of addictions and bring down these strongholds. But thank God for the Holy Spirit, our most dear Helper! (7)
(1) Hosea 4:6 (2) 1 Corinthians 6:19 (3) Psalm 139:14 (4) Hebrews 12:1; Ephesians 2:10
(5) 2 Corinthians 4:7 (6) James 1:5 (7) John 14:16