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I’d like to take a minute to explain a phrase I’ve come to value. Health is a choice.
It might sound a little presumptuous. But we’ll get there.
What is health? Is it a physical state of being where I am “normal”, without defects, “a state of being free from illness or injury” (thank you, Oxford Dictionary)? What about mental health? And spiritual health. And emotional health. The list goes on…
You can have bad health or good health. But it’s also not black or white.
Health is NOT being perfectly physically fit or without disease. Rather, I view health, good health, that is, as proactively striving to live well regardless of the situation; seeing the world in a realistic way, taking into account every element of what it means to live. Health is holistic well-being.
Seems like an easy word, and I don’t necessarily need to define it. But here it goes. Choice is making a conscious decision when faced with two or more possibilities.
In every major life stage and even every breakfast, lunch, and dinner, choices must be made. Some are easier than others, and sometimes we think that other people make choices for us.
So is it true, that we ALWAYS have a choice? I argue yes. Even if that choice is to choose a victim mentality, that’s still the choice. Which is what brings me back to the word health. We get to choose if we are going to see the world realistically or blindly. No matter how much we’ve been screwed up by our upbringing or by others, we are each responsible to reverse those habits by re-training and receiving Grace, God Himself, if we truly desire transformation and healing.
I fully recognize I may be breaching the line of comfortability here. But hear me out. Any person seeking true health should desire to do whatever it takes to become healthy. We go to the doctor so we can get medicine to make us better physically. Well the same thing applies to how we think too. Holistic health may take a lot of healing (therapy, prayer, accountability, trained neuroplasticity, and/or all of the above) to get to a place where we develop healthy patterns of thinking.
So circling back to our phrase: Health is a choice.
Health is a choice. To fight. To show up. To look at what was involuntarily handed to me, and instead of blame, accept and forgive. Instead of shut down, to remain open-hearted. To respond instead of react. And to attempt with all my being to find any morsel of good out of a situation that externally seems and feels like crap.
For anyone who’s lived on the planet for any relative amount of time, you know it’s actually quite difficult to choose well in this broken world. (Heck, the choice to eat the right foods at the right time of day can even feel like the equivalent of running two miles to someone suffering from chronic illness or depression.) That’s why I didn’t say health was easy. Nonetheless, I am convinced that it is worth every battle. I have seen the personal benefit of striving for true health.
One final thought to leave and mull over. C.S. Lewis writes in his book, The Great Divorce, about a similar concept. He shares,
Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.
Peace and grace be with you on this winding journey of life, friend.