Physical health and spiritual health are two things that are always on my mind…two things I am always striving for. Though we can certainly have one without the other–we may be physically robust with no thought for spiritual things, or we may be spiritual giants and plagued with illness–I am convinced that the two things are intertwined; that our physical health affects our spiritual health, and vice versa.
Over the past year, I have been focused on increasing my spiritual health. This was my goal, my primary focus. And yet, I knew that I desperately needed to improve my physical health in anticipation of hopefully conceiving another child. I had to work on both–neither could be put off. I didn’t know it then, but this was actually a perfect combination. I also didn’t realize at the start of the new year, when I decided that my theme for the year would be “accomplish” (as in being focused and proactive about getting things done–I even wrote a long list of things to accomplish) that this also came into play with my health and spiritual goals, for, all these things require a great deal of discipline.
I do not consider myself to be very disciplined, but I have definitely made some great strides this year. It’s as if I have finally walked out of a foggy cloud. I started my year ticking off items on my great “to do” list, but when I checked off “see nephrologist,” my life took an unexpected turn. Six weeks or so of my life were sucked into this procedure called kidney biopsy (including preparation and recovery), wherein I had to be on blood pressure medication that sapped not only my energy from me, but also my cheerfulness for two weeks before and after the procedure. Recovering from the biopsy had some scary moments. During my week of bedrest, I started to read the scriptures on my husband’s iPod, which he lent to me for my recovery (and hasn’t taken it back since). In this moment of physical and emotional despair, I took comfort in something I had much more control over–my spiritual health. I knew my spirit was weakened somewhat from neglect, though I hadn’t realized just how much until this moment. I committed myself to scripture study–I knew it would provide the foundation for the spiritual strength I desired.
After I recovered from my biopsy, I did not forget my spiritual ambitions. In fact, I relied on my Heavenly Father more than ever. I prayed with more faith than I think I’ve ever prayed with before, that He would help me find a naturopath that would help me get healthier, that could help heal my kidneys. I begged for healing; I knew it was possible, and I hoped it was in God’s plan for me. I kept remembering the scripture: Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
But I didn’t just ask. I read the scriptures diligently, put effort into my new church calling, prayed as often as I could remember to. I tried my best not to sin, and repented when I did. I really, really tried to keep the commandments and do my best. Honestly, I have never been so motivated to try when it was so hard to do so. I’ve had times in my life where keeping the commandments and doing well was easy, and I’ve had times where I’ve struggled but was slow to pull myself out (or reach up and take His hand, I should say). In my time of despair, I knew from my life experience what I needed to do, and I did it. Not perfectly, but I tried. And I continue to strive, for I can see that He is pouring out blessings on me as I ask for them and strive to be worthy of them. He helped me find a naturopath, gave me the strength to change the way I eat, and has given me courage where I had none before. The way I am feeling physically these days is like a miracle to me. The way I am feeling spiritually is refreshing and brings me joy and hope. My eyes are clearer and it is easier to see what I need to do and easier to see where I am needed. It is easier to recognize God’s hand in my life, and to be more humble.
Recently, I have found it necessary to remind myself, that in the great scheme of things, physical health is not of great importance. Yes, it is important, for, being the mortals that we are, it helps us do the things we need to do and helps keep us emotionally well, which in turn helps our spiritual health, if we seek it. It helps me take care of my family as well as doing things for others. If I am healthy, I can bear more children. In my faith, we believe that God has given us a law of health called the Word of Widsom…I know that God wants us to be healthy. But one day we will all die. The health of our bodies will no longer matter. What remains of us? Our spirits will live on, along with the knowledge and spiritual strength we have gained in this life. I am sure we will be accountable for how we took care of bodies, for they are gifts to us from God, but I do not believe it is prudent to seek after perfect physical health in this life. I believe it would be much wiser to focus on spiritual health. Yes, we should take care of our bodies, but not let it be an obsession that takes over our lives.
The thing that brought on these thoughts recently is my son’s health. I have worried over my son’s health from the time he was conceived. I have put much effort into ensuring he is as healthy as I can get him to be, and teaching him good health habits so that he will hopefully carry on with them throughout his life. But at times I have agonized over it, and I realize that I need not do so. He may not have perfect health in his life, and he may choose to discard the things I teach him about being healthy. My best hope is to set a good example, tell him what he needs to know, and then just stop worrying about it. Instead, I ought to focus more on how I can enrich his life spiritually. I will still have no control over whether or not he accepts spiritual wisdom, but the chances that he will are much better if I teach him while he is little, and develop good family habits that strengthen us as a whole.
Being physically healthy makes life easier and more enjoyable, but it does not compare to the enrichment and personal strength that spiritual health gives us. No matter how healthy or sick we are, we will all eventually die. Whether it be at age 50 or 100, it makes little difference when compared to eternity…an eternity that we get to experience with perfected, resurrected bodies, anyway (according to my beliefs). However, the spiritual strength we develop in this life does matter, and it does carry on in the next life. Keeping these thoughts in my mind really helps me keep my perspective (and sanity) as a parent, and as a person trying to overcome health problems.
So I continue my journey towards good health, but with a deepening sense of humility, keeping God close and ever inching my way closer to Him.