Jesus is Better Than Optimal Health

Unlike most people who go to the doctor for a routine check up, I was extremely excited to meet my new integrative doctor and learn the results of my body scan. I eat pretty healthy, I work out, I make my health a priority.

So when I logged in to the patient portal and read the results and found my body fat percentage according to the tests she ran, I sat stunned. There’s no way I have that much body fat. I take care of my temple. I don’t drink sodas. I avoid added sugars. I run farther than I ever did as a sports-involved teen. I take my probiotics, I read all the latest research on holistic health. It can’t be true.

Then came the tears. I made meaning from the test results. In my mind, they told me I needed to work harder. What I do isn’t good enough. I am not as healthy as I thought. I am a failure. “If only I went to Body Pump more.” “Maybe I should be gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free, and vegan.” “I need to run 30 miles a week.” Then…the worst thought, the one that always creeps up during my lowest of lows. My go-to in the book of self-destructive thought patterns. “I’m fat and gross. Probably unloveable. Nobody wants to look at me.”

Health, an idol?

Lies. I know they are lies. Yet I choose to believe them, utter them in my brain. When I paused to sift through what is REALLY going on in my heart, when I finally chose to acknowledge what this mild tantrum is really about, I realize the truth – I have made my health an idol.

See, for years mental instability plagued me. Diagnosed with depression at 15, then bipolar disorder at 18, on and off meds for 18 years due to a mind I had no control over, I yearned for stability. Through improved sleep habits, exercise, healthy eating and nutritional supplements, I have been off medication for 3 years. If I can control the health of my body, I can control the health of my mind. This is what I believe. This is the reasoning I choose to cling to in order to continue in my path of health.

Yet it is idolatry. With that line of reasoning and in my well-intentioned quest for stability, somewhere along the way I decided that my physical health is the ultimate gain. The most important thing. Better than anything else. Better than…gulp….Jesus.

Yep, I admit it. Uncovering this deep dark truth and the fact that I wear my “good health” like a badge of pride shows me that I rely on my well-being for my security. For my salvation. Instead of Jesus.

This makes me think of the Israelites in the book of Haggai. Returned to their homeland after years of captivity, it was time to rebuild the temple, to do the Lord’s work. Yet they were so focused on fixing up their own homes, restoring their own broken lives, they missed the most important thing – the Lord’s holy dwelling place. Haggai 1:9 says, “You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? Declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house.”

When I busy myself with my temple for my own sake, for my own security, for my own man-made salvation, I neglect the fact that my body is HIS temple first. To glorify Him. To be His dwelling place. To be holy. THAT is the most important thing. Not my health, not my body fat composition (thank God), not any number. But that my life would be an image of His work. When I make my health an idol, I miss out on the work the Lord is doing in my heart.

Erin Kerry Compared to Who Contributor Head ShotErin Kerry is wife to Richard and “mama” to Isabel, Roman and baby Rhett. She worked as an English teacher and ESL Department Head for a middle school in Plano, Texas before going full time as a SAHM and ambassador for Plexus Worldwide. She loves bingeing on Netflix with her husband, playing games with her kids, getting sucked into a good book, running races (slowly), discovering unique craft beers, and trying out new Mexican restaurants. Read Erin’s posts here.

  • Abra Carnahan
    October 25, 2017

    Great thoughts here. I, too, am bipolar (manic depressive). I was also diagnosed with PTSD. Coming to grips with the reality that Jesus is better than optimal health was something that was really pressed upon my heart over the last two years as I came to realize that my mental health struggles were such that I probably will never be “healed” from them on this side of eternity. I take medications to help control nervous breakdowns (without medication, I could not live at home with my children and husband) and with them comes severe weight gain and loss. I don’t have control of my body or my mind, but God does. I do my best, but I know that He is far better equipped to take care of me than I am — and this is what I remind myself when I begin to spiral into shame and anorexia again. In my weakness, He is strong.

    • Heather Creekmore
      October 26, 2017

      He absolutely is. Prayers for you. Thank you so much for sharing that. Hugs!

  • Angela
    October 19, 2017

    I can relate to this so much. I obsess over and worry about what I eat and the affect it is going to have on my health and body. Can I ask how you stopped doing this. I wish for once I could eat something without thinking about blood sugar, cancer, antioxidants, protein, carbs, fat, and balancing every bite I eat. I obsessively think about food all day. It is my number one priority which is hard for me to admit. I get anxious when I feel emptiness in my stomach. I don’t get it. I don’t know how to stop this. Any advice would help please.

    • Heather Creekmore
      October 20, 2017

      I’m going to let Erin (who wrote this post) chime in too . . . but she’s on a vacation right now. I can tell you, girl, that orthorexia . . .the fear of eating unhealthy things. . .is just as real as all the other “rexia’s”. There’s definitely a way to find freedom. In my book I talk about how to tumble our food/body image idols . . . because that’s really what happens when we think about/obsess over one thing too much–we make it an idol and it consumes us alive. I know that God can help you find freedom from this, just as he helps anyone else (myself included) who struggles with disordered eating. Prayers and hugs. -Heather

      • Erin Kerry
        October 27, 2017

        I was going to mention ortorexia too! I get it. I feel a tinge of excitement every time I hear of a new health craze or benefit to eating/not eating something. But at the root of it, I’ve learned that it will never bring me ultimate fulfillment. That hole in my heart will always be empty if I’m trying to fill up on things of this world instead of spiritual Truth. I am a work in progress. I recently downloaded the Think Up app, where I record myself reciting a Bible verse and I play it to myself every day. It’s been really good! That’s the best way I’ve learned to combat the noise in my head. Scripture, good counseling, Heather’s book!

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