Being Thankful by Being Fit

The Beacon Bolt is a publication of the student body of Northwest Christian University. Well Halloween is over now, emphatically ushering in the new holiday season. That leaves us with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s as the big three that remain on our calendar, and if you happened to read fellow-editor Raegan White’s article last week, you know that there’s also a multitude of lesser-known holidays between now and then. It’s kind of a nice reward for making it through another year. There’s a renewed sense of optimism that the new year on the horizon can be a great one; everyone seems to catch the holiday spirit and act a little bit friendlier; and the food only gets better the further into the season we go.

Thanksgiving is the next major holiday on the list, and what a great holiday it is. A day dedicated to, at its root, saying thank you. We are blessed beyond belief, and the aspect of excess that accompanies this time of year can actually serve as a good reminder of how much we have beyond what we need. Crazy deals and bargains at every store and supercenter lure us to acquire more and more stuff, and with all the amazing holiday food that starts coming out of our kitchens, a lot of us will be leaving our tables feeling stuffed too.

Now, I don’t believe that having more of something than you need is in itself a bad thing. Yes, there is a potential for it to become bad like everything else in life can, but if God chooses to bless us richly, who are we to say no? One thing we have been blessed with but very often take for granted are our bodies. I think we tend to overlook, if not completely forget, that our bodies are a blessing because we all have one. It’s not like half of us are floating around as formless wisps, wishing we could have a physical being to call our own. Take a second to think about it though, what on Earth would we be able do without our bodies? Not a whole lot.

God gave us our bodies; they are ours to do with what we will. As the lucky recipients of such an incredible gift, I believe we have an obligation to take care of our bodies and live a healthy lifestyle because one: the body isn’t just the physical home of our spirit and soul, it’s where God lives too, inside of us. If someone is born again then Christ lives within them, and I think it’s safe to say that Christ deserves to live in a nice home. Two: how a person treats a gift is an indicator of how much it is appreciated, and right now there are an awful lot of people who demonstrate a lack of appreciation for the bodies God gave because of how they treat them.

It’s disturbing that today our society is largely accepting the notion that feeling good about your body is more important than the physical state of it. Feeling good about yourself is important, but it’s a problem when we’re being bad stewards of our bodies and then buying into the idea that as long as we’re comfortable with it, it’s ok. It’s not. I’m not talking about someone who doesn’t like the shape of their nose, because that’s not something you can change, and frankly it just doesn’t matter. What I am talking about are things like overeating and a lack of self control (and respect, honestly), or being slothful, lazy, and abhorring the idea of going out and breaking a sweat.

Before continuing, I realize that as college athlete and a very active individual, hearing these words come from my mouth may cause them to not carry much weight, because I don’t struggle much in this area. I love exercising, and I eat fairly healthy. It comes to me much easier than it does to a lot of people. I understand that, and I sympathize with you if it doesn’t. Believe me, there are areas that I’m weak in where you are probably much stronger. It goes both ways. One thing is certain though, Christians have a duty to live as holy as we possibly can so as to reflect the image of Christ. Though it’s not often thought of, the way we treat our bodies is just as much a part of holy living as our mental and spiritual health.

It’s truly sad that there are so many people, many of whom are Christians, who are dedicating little to no time to their bodies. Christians really have no excuse; we have a personal relationship with the One who gave us our bodies, what better way to show our gratitude than to be a good steward of it? You don’t have to become a fitness freak and dedicate hours of your time to the gym, but everyone ought to find something active they like, or at least tolerate, and start doing it and keep doing it. It’s only going to get easier as you go. Yes, it will most likely require perseverance and some strong willpower, but it is totally worth it. Stick with it long enough and it’ll become a habit, something enjoyable, and it’ll even get to the point where it feels strange to skip it.

In addition to soccer, I love to run. Running is the most therapeutic activity I do, and has more benefits than I can count. I didn’t always like it though. It wasn’t until the middle of high school that I decided I wanted to maintain a good level of fitness even when soccer wasn’t in season. So I started going on runs, and it sucked. But I kept with it and made sure not to push myself so hard that when I finished I would stop for good because I was so miserable. Steady and regular, that’s what was strived for. After a month or two it got to the point where I was no longer forcing myself to run, I wanted to. It’s like medicine for me. There’s always a sense of accomplishment after completing a run; it clears my mind better than anything else. I don’t think I have ever gone on a run and not been in a better mood afterwards than I was before.

These feelings aren’t limited to running. Ask the person who goes to the pool and swims laps, I’m sure they will say the same thing; or the person who loves to hike, do CrossFit, play sports, or dance. It’s not just a way to show appreciation to God for our bodies, it’s beneficial to us as well. That’s one of the great things about God, He blesses us, and then when we live out our gratitude, He blesses that as well. There’s nothing to lose; He’s that generous.

If you’re someone who struggles to be active, I strongly encourage you to take steps toward changing that. The rewards are many. Taking care of ourselves is a way of showing appreciation to God, and it’s also a sign of self-respect. It’s selfish to be sedentary, it’s an abuse of God’s gift, and as Thanksgiving Day approaches what better time is there to start showing gratitude for our bodies than now? Step outside, go on a walk, or a run, or something. NCU offers intramural sports during the entire school year, why not start there? We were made to do more than sit idle, wallowing in habits that are damaging to our health. Take a step in the right direction, I promise you it’s more than worth it.

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