“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.