As we begin a new year, many of us are cautiously hopeful as we anticipate a return to normalcy after the chaos of 2020. The problem is — we may have forgotten what normal, healthy life looks like.
The Covid-19 pandemic, the fraught 2020 elections and the endless stream of political news have disrupted every aspect of our lives, from our social media feeds to our daily conversations with family members, friends and coworkers. We wake up and go to bed anxious, worrying about our health and about the future of our country.
As many of us are working from home, it also has become harder to distinguish where the line between work and personal life is. In fact, while answering emails in your sweatpants may sound nice, studies have found that some people work up to three hours more per day when they work from home.
So, as we make our new year’s resolutions, let’s remember what healthy living means — but first we must begin with what it isn’t.
For years I defined it by the word that now seems as warped as a flat tire: balance.
I pursued life-work balance, equilibrium in my relationships, balance at home, at church, at the office. I thought healthy living involved attending to my physical, emotional, relational, psychological and spiritual needs in a way that kept them all level with one another. Like spokes on a wheel extending from a hub of well-being, these different areas needed to be in synchronicity in order for me to live a balanced, healthy life.
What I discovered, however, is that balance — at least the ideal I kept chasing — rarely exists. Life gets in the way. Ministry often consumes more time and energy than I allot in my schedule, spilling over into my time at home, my time to run and exercise my body, my time to fellowship with family and friends. Leadership roles require attention 24/7 in order to serve those in my care to the best of my ability. No matter how furiously I tried to devote equal portions of my time, energy and attention to the priorities in my life, I never seemed to sustain it for more than a day, if that long.
So I stopped making balance a kind of idol. This realization does not mean that I stopped pursuing balance in the major areas of my life, only that I stopped feeling like a failure when one part consumed more of my time and attention than another.
I quit trying to make balance more important than the priorities I was working so hard to juggle. God’s word tells us that “to everything there is a season” (Eccles. 3:1 NKJV), which means that following the Spirit’s direction and omniscient wisdom is the basis for our priorities, not a human determined ideal that we think we can control.
Healthy living is based on truth — the truth of God’s word; the truth about who you are, what you’re doing and whom you’re doing it for.
The truth about God’s character, his power and his love.
The truth about Jesus’ presence, his purpose and his passion.
The truth about the Spirit’s residence in your heart, your life and your body.
We see this kind of health reflected in the Apostle John’s prayer for Gaius: “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well” (3 John 2).
Rendered as “good health” in this translation, the Greek word eudōomai means “to be brought along to a smooth and prosperous journey” or “to be continually prospered [unto success] in every way.” The original word conveys a sense of alignment and motion working in harmony together.
Basically John was praying that his friend’s physical health would match his spiritual health.
God is similarly concerned for both our physical health and our spiritual well-being, along with all the facets these include — emotional, mental, psychological and so on. And if we are going to live healthy, then we need to attend to the needs of each part of our being.
So as we enter 2021, I encourage you to to get some real, deep-soul rest.
Catch up on sleep, but also give your mind a break and turn off your social media notifications. Turn on your out-of-office email response, and go on a hike or a secluded place where you can pray, meditate and think clearly. And above all, spend quality time with your family and loved ones — even if it’s through a video call.
As you do these things, you will realize that even in the most challenging times, we can still live healthy if we choose to.
This article was adapted from Rev. Samuel Rodriguez’s new book “From Survive to Thrive” (Charisma House).
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, executive producer of “Breakthrough” with 20th Century Fox and author of “From Survive to Thrive: Live a Holy, Healed, Healthy, Happy, Humble, Hungry, and Honoring Life” (Charisma House Publishing), a best-seller on Amazon. CNN and FOX News have called him “the leader of the Hispanic Evangelical movement” and TIME magazine nominated him among the 100 most influential leaders in America.