Exercise as Spirituality.

Posted: Saturday, June 23, 2012 in life, thoughts

My friend Charlie Dean has been telling his story lately of his recent loss of weight (why he lost it, how he lost it and what it has meant for him).  I applaud Charlie and all of his hard work and dedication.  It is not easy for most of us to “drop the pounds” and Charlie will be the first to tell you that he is a “foodie” so it made it all the harder at times.

What I appreciated about his posts is the connection he is beginning to make between food, theology, exercise and spirituality.  Some may scoff and feel that “exercise profits little”, some may have legitimate concerns because “genes”, or sickness, or illness have stacked the deck against them.

My point is to walk that fine line between seeing the real issues people have with weight loss and seeing the connection between how we treat our physical bodies as an indication of our love and respect for our creator.

For the past 4 to 5 years I have been involved in recreational running.  I have never entered a race (nor really plan to).  I run for me.  I keep time, mark my routes, and have gotten up to around 6 miles per run (I would like to run more but time is really an issue).  I have also incorporated Zumba Flat-abs on my off days (yes, Zumba…..and yes, it really does help!), and, also, on my off days jump-roping for 20 minutes.  I don’t say this to impress anyone, for most people do far more than myself (and can do it far faster and far better than I)…I say this because I have been struck in the last several years between the connection that Charlie is now coming to see.  There is a connection between how we treat our bodies and our love (and respect) for God.

I don’t say that last statement lightly.  It tells us in Gen. 1 and 2 that God created.  He created the earth, sun, moon, stars, planets, trees, birds, fish, etc., etc. and at the end he created man and woman.  And we are special because we have been created in his image.  Christians may disagree on how far we are to take creation care but no thinking christian would disagree with the idea that we are stewards of what God has blessed us with and we need to respect and care for it to the best of our ability.  Shouldn’t this be the same thinking in relation to our physical bodies?

We care for our physical world and yet we have little respect for our physical bodies (and this gets played out in a thousand different ways).  This doesn’t mean we have to be the guy in the gym 24/7 that neglects his wife, kids, job, friends, spiritual life just to get his physical body in shape….that is wrong in the opposite direction and just plain messed up.

Yet how many of us will neglect our physical bodies for the “more spiritual” things?  How many of us will miss the connection that our physical body is a “spiritual issue” and that to mistreat our body is to show a lack of respect for God for what he has blessed us with and given to us?

We rightfully want to save human life but will willfully destroy our own by the choices that we make or don’t make in relation to eating and exercising.  Some may argue that choice is exactly that: their choice, their right.  Yet, that misses the point that nothing we have is ours.  We have been given our bodies to steward and take care of, just like we have been given the earth to steward and take care of.

By way of admission.  I have never struggled with my weight.  I have wanted to lose 5-10 pounds but I don’t know personally the frustration of trying to lose weight in large proportions.  But I do know the frustration of trying to eat better and make wiser choices of what I put into my body.  I know the frustration of trying to “get in shape”.  Just because I am not overweight doesn’t (and didn’t) mean that I am (was) physically fit.  It is hard and takes hard work…and I am not there yet.  I journeying forward.

I see so many friends from high school and college beginning to run, exercise, and get in shape.  It took until our mid to late 30’s to get to this point but I am thankful that so many are starting to see the connection and seeing how they treat their bodies is an indication, to some extent, on some level, of how they treat and love God.

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