It has always seemed so wrong to me to constantly compare and contrast my wellness mindset with that of the secular framework within the religious realm.
There was always a sense of guilt that accompanied my thoughts around how the pastor always seemed to frame up our worldly problems in a way that I could only understand fully by comparing the situation with my coaching experience.
After all, in the end, both the pastor and the coach/leader in the real world must deal with the same fallen species: humans.
Yet, it isn’t as simple as chalking our poor choices up to a single decision made in the Garden of Eden. Because we must account for the aspect of Free Will and the space to make the appropriate decisions, right?
"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom"- Viktor E. Frankl
The “space” has always intrigued me. We all experience the space, daily. We all suffer with the space to lesser or greater degrees. Yet, it is how we choose to move through the space that determines who we are and how we think. And, whether we are discussing sin or health, they both deal with becoming more intentional and acting upon that intention throughout our daily lives. So, whether I choose to live with or shuck off my guilt for how I come to understand the subject at hand, it doesn’t change the fact that most readers can relate to one or the other more efficaciously than they would like to admit.
Yesterday was no different. As I sat with Lacie Jo in the pew watching Pastor Gabe deliver the message, I couldn’t help but pass his words and intention through my health filter and coaching perception. After all, he was discussing happiness.
And, if we can agree on anything, we humans have the reputation of both sinning and indulging with things and foods while pursuing what we believe could bring us happiness in the moment.
Happiness is such a universal phenomenon. The concept of it draws us in and strums the strings of our souls. It sings its siren song at just the right harmonious frequency so that we look away from our greater purpose in this world, just to taste what it promises us.
And, before we know it, we are trapped within its sweet, sticky decadence. Only to suddenly realize that we have made an awful, yet the most common mistake of our era: mistaking pleasure for happiness.
This is what we do, isn’t it? We even use the terms interchangeably in casual conversation. And how we choose to talk about things shows us, and everyone else, how we ultimately understand them.
But if we look throughout history and all the wisdom that has preceded us, we continue to stumble upon what could be considered an unspoken universal truth: Happiness can only be found in the pursuit of something greater than oneself.
“Don't aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it”
Pastor Gabe discussed it in the form of a mirage. As we see our “happiness” just two measly sand dunes in front of us, we finally arrive only to find emptiness. It never existed, even though society’s fork-tongued marketing whispered its guaranteed attainment ever so sweetly.
In regards to health, attempting to pursue happiness through achieving a specific number on the scale or a particular body fat percentage is one of society’s greatest mirages. You can find it just below, “More Money = More Happiness”.
If your sole purpose is to be better than anyone or anything but yourself, you lose before you even get started. Like Pastor Gabe said,
“Chasing righteousness is like attempting to swim to Hawaii. You may make it further than someone or everyone else, but inevitably, you are still going to drown before you make it.”
As a society, most of us appear to be slowly drowning. Fighting tooth and nail to one up the person next to us.
Seeking to fill secular voids with worldly items: Food, Money, and Pleasure.
Yet, ironically, true happiness only exists within hunger and thirst. Not physiological hunger, but supraphysiological hunger. A thirst that can only be quenched via the soul.
The pursuit (not the attainment) = happiness.
Pleasure is attainable. It’s easy, yet fleeting. Happiness carries much more elusive powers, though. Happiness is like the present: as hard as we fight to grab hold of it, once we do, it has already become the past.
So, what is the answer? What are mere mortals supposed to do with our wellness efforts? What do the most experienced coaches and leaders know that we somehow can’t, or won’t, solidify in our thinking?
Health is not about what you do. It is about who you are.
We must become seduced by and fall in love with the process.
Speak to any coach or leader, or pastor for that matter, about the best ways to help facilitate behavior change. And what you will most likely hear can be summarized with the following statement:
“Wanting something for someone does nothing. For lasting change to occur, you must empower others to change themselves.”
What we are all up against when it comes to our health, is a lifelong battle against “Hedonistic Diseases.”
We pleasure ourselves to death when it comes to most chronic illnesses.
Pastor Gabe made a very interesting connection while speaking to wanting to change. He said that if you want the change, you can have it. But you have to WANT it!
And if you want Greed, Anger, and Lust, then God will let you keep it.
It is common belief that if you want something, you simply have to ask for it. Yet, in our society, you don’t even have to do that!
If you want Diabetes, Arthritis, Heart Disease, or Obesity, then society has no problem with letting you keep it.
It is all yours for the taking. You don’t even have to ask for them. It’s easy.
As a society, we clearly don’t want change. So it may behoove us to become really intentional with asking for and focusing on a desire to change.
Children want things. Mature, able-minded adults desire them.
So, what do you desire? What do you crave?
What SHOULD you desire and crave?
God’s people hunger and thirst for what’s right. They don’t view church and biblical reading as simple insurance policies for their souls. They are had and driven by the purpose of what’s beyond this current world.
So, why should we view the body any differently? Healthy people don’t just perform the actions and check items off of the list. It is who they are.
So, who are you? What do your actions show?
Will you choose health? Or will you default to hedonism?
To pursue happiness? Or to settle for attaining pleasure?
You can try, but in the long run, you can’t fake a saved soul. Just like you can’t fake a healthy body.
It is who you are.
But you have to want it!