I gave birth to my son in October 2014. Within the first few weeks of mommy-hood, I began to experience behavior and emotions that did not seem normal, although my doctor said as long as I didnt want to harm myself or my baby, I was fine.
But I did not feel fine.
I was arguing with my husband constantly over the most insignificant things and I felt like I had no support, even though that couldn’t have been further from the truth because my husband is the most supportive and selfless man I know. I would belittle him and snap at him at the drop of a hat, which was very unlike me.
I had trouble nursing and had to pump around the clock, yet still wasn’t producing enough milk for my son. This made me feel even more like an absolute failure of a mother. When I couldn’t console my son if he was upset, rage would seem to well up inside of me, so I would slam doors and run into the bathroom to let out a scream.
This little bundle of joy barely slept or took naps during the day for me, so I was absolutely exhausted, living off of caffeine and sugar just to function. When he would actually fall asleep, all I could do was stare up at the ceiling, unable to shut my body down to get rest. I was suffering continuously with anxiety attacks to the point of hyperventilation because I didn’t like who I was becoming. I felt out of control and miserable.
Being a woman of prayer, there was no way I could be a victim of postpartum depression, right?
I’m a Christian and I know that Jesus died so that I could walk in TOTAL freedom from all sin, sickness, and disease, I thought.
I would pray and pray and pray for God to heal me. I felt like this was a spiritual battle and I was totally losing. My spirit felt utterly depleted.
As the months went by, the anxiety and emotional outbursts seemed to fade, but then I started experiencing even more random physical symptoms such as oral thrush, ringing in my ears, heartburn, swelling in my throat, restless legs, and insomnia.
It was obvious that my body didn’t have what it needed to fight off these symptoms, and medication to just quiet the symptoms and not eliminate the root cause, for me, was a last resort. Out of curiosity and desperation, I began researching what was physically going on in my body. This was the unhealthiest I had ever felt in my whole life, so I knew that I needed to make some serious changes, especially regarding my eating habits and stress triggers. I believe in prayer, but sometimes there is more going on in the natural realm that we can have control over, with God’s wisdom and provision.
I realized that this battle going on inside of me and all around me could not be compartmentalized. This wasn’t just spiritual, emotional, mental, or physical. In other words, I wasn’t just spiritually, emotionally, mentally, or physically unhealthy; It was absolutely everything combined. Knowing that the Creator of the Universe created me body, soul, and spirit, I couldn’t just focus on the wellness and wholeness of one area. All of me needed healing, and I was ready to partner with the Lord to see restoration unfold.
Like I said, God created us body, soul, and I spirit:
- We are a spirit
- We possess a soul
- We live in a body
This means that we are a tri-part being.
We discover this truth in 1 Thessalonians 5:
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, ESV).
God cares about our whole being, and all of it connects together. How we take care of ourselves, affects our overall health. We have to take responsibility in all three areas: spirit, soul, and body, and trust that God will strengthen us.
Our spiritual health can be developed and strengthened by cultivating our relationship with Jesus by partnering with the Holy Spirit through regular times of worship and prayer. This is definitely difficult when you have little ones, but I have learned to fight for even just a few minutes of quiet time with the Lord. I take advantage of my time in the shower and during nap-time to talk with God about my worries and stresses, and simply thanking Him for never leaving my side.
Keeping a grateful heart definitely helps keep worry and stress at bay, I believe. Worship and adoration helps us take our minds off our problems and switch our focus to the greatness of God! Being around other believers consistently at church or small groups also helps us keep that fire burning inside of us.
In addition to worship and prayer, consistently reading and listening to the Word of God strengthens our faith. When my son was much younger, and I didn’t always have my hands free to read my actual Bible, I used my Bible app on my cell phone quite a lot; or if that wasn’t an option, I would listen to the audio Bible on my iPod and have it play throughout the house. God’s Word leads us into developing the health in our soul.
Emotional and Mental Health
Our souls are made up of mind, will, and emotions. God’s Word helps us keep those areas of our life in check, leaning on Him more than ourselves or the pattern of this world. We strengthen our soul by fixing our thoughts on Him.
To see transformation in our soul, we must renew our minds.
Romans 12:2 says:
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Once we allow God to renew our thought patterns, we are able to understand God’s will, which affects our own will and how we make godly decisions in life. Godly thoughts lead to godly decisions and actions, which lead to godly behavior and eventually, a godly and healthy soul and life.
As Christians, sometimes it seems easier for us to focus spiritual health, but I realized in my own life that we cannot neglect the health and wellness of our bodies without experiencing consequences.
The apostle Paul tells us of the importance of our body:
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, ESV).
How can we glorify God in our bodies?
Within the context of this scripture, Paul is talking about sexual sin in particular. He says that sexual sin is sin against our own body (vs 18) and we must flee from all sexual immorality. But I believe another way we can glorify God in our bodies is by eating healthy foods, drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated, and exercising regularly. These bodies are not our own because Jesus purchased us with His very life, and we must care for this precious gift we have been given.
When we consistently consume junk food, sweets, and large amounts of refined sugars and processed foods, I believe we are sinning against our own bodies. Since none of these foods existed when God created the world, our bodies have a very difficult time trying to digest and detoxify. Fruits and vegetables (as well as animals if you aren’t vegan or vegetarian) are natural and made by God for us. Our bodies need water to survive and thrive as well, and since our bodies are made up of 70% water, I think it’s a good idea to keep fueling our system with this important life-source!
Lastly, our bodies were designed to move. It is important for our physical health to get our blood and heart pumping to help the rest of our body to function properly and effectively.
Over these last six months, I have changed my eating habits and started to incorporate regular exercising. What I have noticed the most is how drastic my emotional and mental health has improved! Like I said before, God designed everything to connect and function together!
If you are finding yourself suffering in one or all of these areas, ask God for wisdom on what you can do to help partner with Him to develop overall wellness in your life. He created you and cares about every single area: body, soul, and spirit!
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Emily Rose Massey began writing short stories and poetry as a little girl, entered the blogging world in her early 20's, and recently released her first book, Yielded in His Hands (eLectio Publishing). She enjoys being a stay-at-home momma and serving in her local church with her husband in television, worship, and youth ministry. Believing she has been forgiven of much, she loves much, and desires to point others to Christ and His redemptive and transforming power. If you would like to connect with Emily or learn more about her book, you can visit her website: www.emilyrosemassey.com