Becoming Whole

wholeness “Wholeness” is a hot topic these days. In fact, it is somewhat a premise for My Pleasant Places (read my About page). But what does “being whole” mean?

We humans are body, soul and spirit (the Bible makes reference to this in 1 Thessalonians 5:23). I have heard it explained like this: we are a spirit, we have a soul, and we live in a body. When these three parts are in balance, in sync, we are healthy; we are whole. Conversely, when one of those areas gets neglected OR overemphasized, we pay for it in all three areas.

One of my favorite metaphors of what life is supposed to look like comes from a running metaphor the Apostle Paul used to describe himself,  “…this one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

In this description, Paul was not talking about a literal race, but a spiritual one. He was describing something much richer, more meaningful than winning a medal. This metaphor–a runner committed to finishing strong–is my concept of spiritual strength, spiritual wholeness (funny; this was my visual long before I was a runner). Paul’s whole life was about “one thing” (the epitome of wholeness, as I see it). Spiritually speaking, this is what I want to look like, too–disciplined, trained, focused, moving forward, constancy, persevering when the going gets tough (this is where the “straining” comes in), and finally, finishing well, finishing strong.

When I consider “wholeness,” the thought occurs to me: why would I restrict the metaphor of the focused runner to represent my spirit only? If personal wholeness is the goal, shouldn’t I be moving forward, being constant, persevering and ‘finishing well’ in my soul and body, as well? Isn’t it a very contradiction of the term “wholeness” to only be whole in one part (wouldn’t that be “thirdness” instead of wholeness)?

Can we truly be “whole” (confluent in body, soul and spirit) if we are not moving similarly in all three dimensions of our lives? Can we be spiritually fit and sedentary physically? Can we be strong in spirit and lazy in mind? Does spiritual strength not impact the soul and the body, as well?

If you read My Running Story, you will see that certain spiritual aspects of life came into clearer focus for me when I started running. I believe this is because my spirit, soul and body were more in sync than ever before. Much of my life, I have been intent on pressing forward spiritually, but when I started pressing forward (literally) physically and mentally through running, it was if something clicked inside me. I saw things, spiritually, I had never seen before. The truth is, the more whole we are (or maybe I should say, “the more in sync we are”), the more difficult to see where the spirit ends and the soul and body begin (see Is Exercise Physical or Spiritual?).

Is it just me, or do you also see how important it is that we “press” in all areas of our lives, that body, soul and spirit are in sync with one another? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment.

Photo compliments of Erelster via Compfight

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6 Responses to Becoming Whole

  1. Cindy Lofton says:

    I really enjoyed reading this and agree with you, for sure. One question- how do you distinguish between spirit and soul? When I look at them in the Word, they seem interchangeable at times, so I was wondering how you define them. I think I’ve neglected my ‘soul’ because I haven’t really understood what it was or how it was different from my spirit. I have seen the connection between being spiritually fit & physically fit. The reality of ‘wholeness’ has been really good to think on this morning.

    • Diane says:

      Cindy, Thanks for the comment, and forgive me for taking so long to respond. The common definition of the soul is “the mind, will and emotions.” You are right; it does seem to be used interchangeably with the spirit in the Bible, but not always. A case in point is the scripture I used in the post, I Thes 5:23. In that verse, it is clear that the soul and spirit are separate. And yet they are part of each individual! Still it is difficult to separate them in our minds. That’s actually part of my point. We can’t compartmentalize. Every part affects the other. As for how I “press forward” in my soul (mind, will and emotions), I read, I study, I get out of my mental comfort zone (as in learning a new language), I research, I journal (to become more emotionally stable), I exercise my willpower (as in 30-day challenges), etc.
      Again, thanks for the comment and the question. Your questions actually give me fodder for new posts. So please continue to fire away!

  2. Amanda Gifford says:

    After reading this post, I wondered the same thing as Cindy and am now inquiring how I nourish my soul. I love the phrase “I press for the excellence of the knowledge of You” and how it sums up Paul’s running metaphor. Looking at my life, it is apparent that when, for instance, my physical nourishment is lacking and I see how it affects and really pulls at my spirit and then vice versa. As mentioned above, I am now ready to press into actual wholeness of body, spirit, AND soul.

    • Diane says:

      Thanks so much for your comment. I am sorry I have taken so long to reply. Please see my response to Cindy’s comment as it will more or less answer your question, as well. Comments and questions about my posts give me ideas for future posts, so please comment liberally! It really helps me!

  3. Brittany says:

    I am thankful for your posts that come at “just the right time” in my daily processing of life. This struck a chord in me today. In fact, I was pondering on some of what was said this morning and praying into what I was seeing. Even following the links you put on here touched on some very important things for me to grasp right now. I was reading in Proverbs today and in chapter 4 verse 7 it says, “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” This blog is part of my getting wisdom and understanding. Thank you Diane. 🙂

I love to read your comments!