Health – Unity of Life and Denial of Self

by Frank Muller

We are a composite of mind, body, and soul and thus all aspects of our humanity must be made healthy.  One aspect divorced from the other leads only to inevitable despair.  For example, we may struggle to be holy in our heart/soul but if we sin with our body then our unity is disrupted and mind, body and soul suffer. 

If we seek holiness in body but without love in our soul, that is we do not have the right intentions to love God and others with our whole heart, mind, and body then our unity is broken.  This leads to hypocrisy, pride, and sadness.

Change of any sort is accomplished by our intentions.  If the motivation for a thing is self-centered then the object of our pursuit will elude us and even if we can in some way achieve it, we soon discover it is empty and our hearts become restless again.  Therefore, our intentions in both body and soul must be of service to something outside of ourselves.  This is the order of Creation and like any other law of creation it is immutable.

Aligning all our thoughts, actions (down to the smallest and most insignificant daily things) to the love and glorify of God aligns us with the order of the Universe and all creation.  This eternal, infinite, uncreated Love cannot fail to satisfy as the Creator simply IS. 

Our love is demonstrated through our mind and body and heart unified in love with the Creator by serving others and Him, not ourselves.  Taking all our gifts and talents and serving the Lord and others with no other agenda than love is the source of repentance “change” and happiness because results flow from that work both now and into eternity.

Therefore, this first step in addressing our health lies in properly aligning our intentions towards loving God and others.  For example, as we age, we increasingly turn to our ever-growing frailty, and we seek to remedy that natural aging process by seeking cures in a thousand different ways.  Simply, we want to be better for ourselves. 

Interestingly, we know from neuroscience that it won’t result in lasting happiness.  When we align our health with serving God and others (our children, grandchildren, and friends etc.…) then our intentions are in unity with the creator and our own natural trinity of heart, mind, and body.  We are called to serve, not be served.  We are called to struggle and sacrifice for others, not avoid the struggle or sacrifice.  A weightlifter can grow his or her muscles to look good, but it ultimately leads to no lasting happiness and certainly not eternal contentment. 

Suggestions:

  • Fasting:  Scripture is replete with calls to prayer, fasting and alms giving.  My experience is many people are ok with the latter, do a little bit of the former and absolutely nothing in the middle.  Why?  In my mind because it requires an overt and physical denial of self.  In a culture where self is venerated, people may choose what they eat but they seldom choose to regularly not eat. There is nothing that God commands that is bad for us, in fact quite the opposite, it is good for us.  The medical evidence for fasting is overwhelming both in terms of treating disease and certainly in terms of training the body to operate without the continuous absorption and processing of food.
  • Denial of Self: The first thing our Lord does is to go into the wilderness and fast for 40 days.  This example of self-denial was not meant to say only God needs to fast.  No, this example is meant to show us all to fast (and to do so with the right intention). No lasting change occurs that leads to true happiness without sacrifice and denial of self.  Therefore, we must practice and live self-denial and the first step in that life is fasting.  The physical benefits will begin to express themselves in less than a year.  The spiritual benefits will last an eternity. If we cannot say no to food from time to time, how can we expect to say no to a whole host of other innocuous temptations? The lives of the Saints from the OT to the 1st century to today share this aspect of love of God and neighbor.
  • Have our doctor run a comprehensive blood panel now and start fasting intermittently for six months and check your progress.
  • Our body requires 12 hours to process food.  With eating and snacking 3 or more meals a day effectively our body is processing food 24/7 365 days a year.  This reduces the body’s ability to fight inflammation.  We are designed by our Creator to not only rest from work but to rest from eating and processing food.  Bring your body back into balance.  We can continue to consume the same number of calories a day and yet we will begin to burn fat.  Why?  Because if there is no food being processed by the body then it turns to the only source it can – fat stored within the body. If it takes 12 hours to process that last bite of food, that means we must fast for 16 hours just to get 4 hours of our body burning fat instead of storing fat.
  • Prayer:  Prayer is not just silent meditation, but it is primarily sanctifying every detail of our lives.  This missive is lifted to God and for us all.  Every email, every thought can be done with the presence of God.  This makes our lives lived through the actions of the body more holy.  Thus, prayer becomes continuous and from that true peace begins to be found. Start with a plan and keep it simple but keep progressing.
  • “Heroic Moment”:  The first step to change begins with the first step in the morning.  Set our alarm at our wake-up time and never hit snooze and never (barring illness) violate this rule.  Get up immediately and hit put those knees on the floor and tell the Lord “I will serve!”  This discipline if instilled in our children and in our own lives alone builds a foundation for life.  We make progress in the spiritual and physical life because we will ourselves to rise and we get to work through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  Prayer and work are synonymous.  We become weak when we fail to control our will right off the bat. The medical evidence for a firm wake time and firm sleep time is overwhelming.  This denial of self through this self-control becomes the cooperation with the Holy Spirit that allows us to work/pray, fast and give.

So, here is the punch line.

  • Rectify our intentions to God and neighbor in ALL things
  • Prayer is work done for the glory of God and service of neighbor.  How I make my bed, dress, talk, do an excel spreadsheet, study Scripture or write an email missive can all be sanctified and made holy though this act of prayer.
  • Fasting is the denial of self in that we rest our bodies to heal and function properly.  It has been practiced for thousands of years; it works but it requires the right intention in order to bear lasting fruits.
  • Heroic Moment:  Get up, every day at the same time.  Jump out of bed, don’t lay there.  Hit our knees and tell the Lord “I will serve”.
  • Alms giving:  This is more than just money; it is about giving of our talents and skills for the love of others.  We will receive more than we give.
  • Bonus Suggestion:  Nightly examination of conscience.  Each night think, deeply about what we are grateful for but also where we stumbled today.  Resolve that the temptation that led to that stumble today will become our resolution to avoid tomorrow.  Interdict those temptations with fervent prayer.  Over time as our ability to deny ourselves grows; the temptations will slowly have less hold of us.  We will through denial of self, allow God’s Grace to flow into us.

Peace be with us all.

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