Today’s guest post is from Rachel of Holistic Faith Lifestyle. I met Rachel through our mutual love of flower essences and have thoroughly enjoyed her blog and insights into the intersection of faith-based and holistic living. I hope this post challenges you to apply your faith to all aspects of life.
How a Holistic Lifestyle Connects with Faith
Holistic lifestyles recognize five valuable and interconnected parts that bring overall health: physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual. Often you’ll hear mental, social, and emotional bundled together as the soul in body-soul-spirit, but together these components represent our total being. A holistic lifestyle takes the approach of seeing these parts as a whole while still recognizing the value of each part within that whole and the importance of tending to each part’s health.
What Does it Mean to be Holistic?
In Philosophy, the word ‘holistic’ is defined as being “characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.”
In Medicine, the word ‘holistic’ is defined as being “characterized by the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the symptoms of a disease.”
Though we see the word holistic used in the marketing of all sorts of methods and approaches, the idea is far from new!
The adage, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”, is a summarized paraphrase pulled from several of Aristotle’s works. And the Apostle Paul compared a healthy church body to that of a healthy human, writing “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” Ephesians 4:16 NLT
Taking all of this into account, let’s work not only to see the parts of our life as comprising a whole but seeing ourselves just as we are in the love of Christ Jesus; beautifully, gracefully, and mercifully whole.
A Holistic Approach
How can Jesus Followers live holistically in all parts of our life, including our faith? And what does it look like when we’re rooted in a holistic faith lifestyle and set upon a holistic health journey? It’s quite simple once we take it from a bird’s eye view!
By understanding the 5 aspects of the holistic lifestyle, we can start to envision how we might impart faith in each area.
Five Aspects of a Holistic Lifestyle
When we think of health, the first thing to come to mind is the body. This is because our physical body is the place we can see and feel the impact of our overall health.
For people of faith, trusting God to heal the body when we or our loved ones are ill is almost instinctive. God can also be trusted to guide us in our everyday health routines. Whether you’re weighing out which philosophy to follow in treating a diagnosis or how to have the self-discipline to get 30 minutes of daily activity even when you don’t feel motivated, God offers love and wisdom!
In my own life, and especially once I became a mom and began making the majority of the health decisions for my household, my prayer regarding physical health has simply been that I not make any decisions out of fear. Usually, this is accomplished by doing more research and praying for wisdom, peace, and patience!
Emotions are possibly the wildest component on this list! They seem to sneak up on us out of nowhere and have a mind of their own. But if you’ve ever embarked on emotional healing, you can testify on how human emotions have roots that over time have grown very deep. It takes work to cut off an ingrained stress response and learn to process and release emotions properly going forward.
Our emotional health affects all other aspects of our life. It is important to notice and process emotions rather than ignore or gut through uncomfortable feelings. Journaling and talking it out with others whether that be a friend, counselor, or inner healing minister can be a big help in emotional processing.
If you’re not already, simply being honest with God is completely life-changing! Give it a try the next time you notice any sort of emotion. Whether they’re sweet or inflammatory, discuss them or at least acknowledge them with God. It’s a method of processing emotions that allows you to literally let go and let God much quicker and cleaner than letting emotions rule the scenario.
Learning to process emotions as an adult requires perseverance, but God does not leave you nor forsake you in this task. You can rest in knowing God cares about every part of you, even the parts you wish you could ignore. Take delight in having a Mighty Warrior who saves you and sings over you with love (Zephaniah 3:17)!
Relationships can be a huge part of how much we enjoy life, how we see ourselves and how connected we feel in our communities. When these things are positive and supportive, a person is more likely to volunteer and make faithful commitments and to help with missions that matter to them. When a person is unhealthy, it is tempting to withdraw and limit social interaction.
It is important to remember that when we have a choice of who to spend time with, we do it with those who bring love and light into our lives. When we don’t have a choice, it is important to process the emotions brought up in these interactions!
God says we are better together, that we can support one another and hold one another accountable. If your relationships don’t feel right, call on your God to bring in and bring out the right relationships.
Our mental health refers to the cognitive functions of the mind.
Applying our faith to our mental health requires spiritual discipline. The Bible advises us to renew our minds, take every thought captive, pursue wisdom and use our cognitive abilities to process God’s words and will for our life. It is easy to see these commands as corrective, cautionary tales. If we stop our exploration there, we miss the big picture.
While taking thoughts captive and destroying anything that sets itself up against God does help us guard us against sin and poor decisions, it also safeguards us against propagating limiting beliefs, creating idols of dependency and deteriorating our own overall health.
Essentially, when we take every thought captive we are empowered to live in gratitude, stay positive and endure the race set before us. And suddenly these commands become merciful, holistic advice!
For people already living a holistic faith, spiritual health can be difficult to suss out. This is why I saved it for last. For us, all things rest beneath a spiritual lens, but even for those not practicing a religion or specific faith, a holistic lifestyle considers this aspect to be highly important.
It includes introspection, self-acceptance, and the instinct to pull value from time spent in stillness and in nature. Spiritual health can also include intuition, the desire to do what is right and the will to overcome adversity. Humans have been long focused on spiritual health. From the earliest cultures, we have utilized many beliefs and resources to open up and receive more.
When we apply faith to our spirituality, there are no limits to what we can learn. Delighting in a God who delights in you to the point of becoming like you in order to suffer in your place, opens up inexplicable gratitude and awareness of the Creator’s power in the universe as well as your own heart.
Where a Holistic Lifestyle Connects to Faith
Let’s turn the whole thing upside down and approach our faith from a holistic intention.
Knowing in your mind that God is sovereign is one thing, but intentionally bringing all things under God’s hand is life-changing business! Trusting God in all things presses us to see things in wholes and invite God into the entirety of our life.
Holistic faith is essentially an open door policy for God. Nothing is parceled off or earmarked for selfish reasons. It all goes on the table, and you may find yourself double and triple-checking you didn’t leave anything behind. Holistic faith is an all-in faith!
Every aspect of life offers an opportunity to learn more about God; the hopes and dreams you cradle close, the prickly surface frustrations, the thick lumpy scar tissue, the frayed edges and even your tidy and well-calculated cross-stitches.
And this is why it gets easier with a bird’s eye view. When we look down upon our life, if everything is covered by our faith, everything is covered. Start here and every component will work in unity!
How to Take the First Steps Toward a Faith-Based Holistic Lifestyle
We can now see how every aspect of our humanity is connected and why our physical health is a great starting point for holistic transformation. If your faith is already your life’s cornerstone, you may be ready to evaluate what area needs a spiritual boost.
Use the questions below to begin contemplating what total surrender would look like in your life. Prayerfully invite God into this process. Make your intentions known and lay them at the cross. Request an open awareness of God’s presence in all of your life, not just specific parts. Relay that your biggest desire is to understand more of God’s character and intent for your life.
- What is your biggest holistic health goal?
- What is your biggest holistic health struggle?
- Of the 5 aspects of holistic health (physical, emotional, social, mental & spiritual), where do you feel God is absent?
- What would it look like to have God fully present in that part of your life?
There’s no rush to complete this introspection all at once. Learn and grow as you go, knowing you have a Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace guiding you every step of the way.
Holistic Lifestyle and Your Faith
Holistic faith realizes that God is deeply connected to every part of the mind, body, and spirit as well as the world in which we live. Viewing every aspect of your life as an opportunity to get closer to God and experience spiritual growth happens naturally when you invite God in and don’t attempt to set any limits!