This morning as I was seated in the bathroom and the normal, natural processes were underway, I thought what an amazing design… I consume food and my body separates it into that which is useful for energy (now and later), maintenance, repair, etc., and then simply sends the rest of to be “eliminated”. When I eat food that is healthier for my system and of better quality, my body is able to use a higher percentage of it, resulting in less waste. When I am unable to consume food or unable to eliminate it, my entire well-being suffers.
Then I contemplated how that same design applies to my thought process and emotional health. I take in the events that occur all around me and have to process them all day long. Some of these things invigorate me, encourage me, brighten my outlook, heal my soul. Others are actually harmful to hold on to and are best “eliminated” from my thought life, not dwelling on them or letting them infect me with poor emotional health. If I am unable to let these negative things go, or if I am only “consuming” negativity, my entire well-being suffers.
It requires an act of the will to consume good, real, healthy food and reject that which is marketed to us as “decadently sweet” or unnaturally manufactured and loaded with unhealthy chemicals, preservatives, dyes, etc.
It requires an act of the will to engage in positive, healthy, compassionate thoughts and reject negativity, bitterness, anger, lust, etc. Unhealthy thoughts are easy, tempting, and addictive, just like caffeinated high fructose corn syrup drinks.
It takes effort. It takes intention. It takes awareness of the harmful effects from consuming that which is unhealthy, and an appreciation for the benefits of that which is truly good for you. When we choose the healthy path, we are living in harmony with how we were designed to thrive on this planet. We are experiencing shalom – peace, wholeness, goodness, health. This does not come by accident; it comes by intentional living that is consistent with God’s universe.
I’m sure someone else has thought of this before, and probably even written books on the subject; I’m unaware of any, but there’s no way this is an “original concept”. As a matter of fact, Jesus (not so surprisingly) touched on this subject as he was addressing a larger issue:
Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.
(Matthew 15:17-20, New American Standard Version)
What you consume not only affects you, it has an effect on others. This is true for both the physical and emotional/spiritual aspects of our beings.
And isn’t it strange that there is simply no way to consume things that are 100% good for you, for which no “elimination” is necessary? Everything – I mean everything – carries with it both good and bad; the percentage of good vs. bad may differ, but there will always be both. So it takes discernment, awareness, and an act of the will to choose health. This is by design.
So when Saul of Tarsus (aka the Apostle Paul) writes “Test everything; hold on to what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), it is wisdom consistent with this design in nature. We don’t have to fear; instead, we need to discern, consume, and let the natural process of elimination occur based on the choices we have made.
When our life is considered in review, we know there will be both good and bad, both health and sickness. We know we will have helped people and harmed others. But we also know that God realizes this – it’s part of his design.
When the author of the book of Hebrews listed those who were considered heroic for their faith, it wasn’t a list of people who lived perfectly consistent lives; these people were messes like the rest of us, but happened to have periods in their lives when great good was accomplished through them as the took the risk of faith against the systems and powers that existed in their day:
- Noah, a drunk
- Abraham, a liar
- Jacob, a thief
- Moses, a murderer
- Rahab, a prostitute
- Samson, a murderer
- David, a murderer and adulterer
Regardless of what you’ve done, you don’t have to remain that way. You may be unhealthy physically and/or emotionally, but you do not have to remain that way. Start by making some choices toward health. Choose what is better for you. Focus on that which restores and encourages you. Don’t let your prior choices weigh you down. Break the addiction to the negative. And don’t obsess over getting it perfect, because in the end the bad will be eliminated.