Why Faith Alone Is Not Enough to Keep You Wellby Nina Dafe
Published: May 18, 2017
“I cancel that in Jesus’ name!”
“I shall not die, but live to declare the works of the Lord!”
And my personal favorite, “That’s not my portion!”
All very typical responses from Christians when warned that the lifestyle that they are living may not be conducive to their health or well-being — well, from us African Christians anyway.
Now before I get anybody’s back up, I do not say all of this to make fun of anyone’s beliefs or culture. I myself am not only of Nigerian descent, but have been saved since I was 11 years old. That means that I am just as likely to exclaim “Tufiakwa!” at a perceived curse. It also means that I believe in a God who wants nothing more than to see us prosper and be in good health and who has healed us “by His stripes.” I know what the Bible says, and it’s pretty clear that God doesn’t want us sick.
Yet for all of this rhetoric, there are health risks that particularly affect our community. Some of these risks, like sickle cell, are almost unavoidable. However the rest, such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, are not. With religion playing such an integral part in most African people’s lives, the simple belief that illness is “not our portion” clearly is not enough.
My upcoming book, The Ultimate Guide to Eve, outlines the lessons and spiritual truths that can be garnered from the Biblical account of Eve’s life. As such, in the book’s second of five lessons I discuss the fact that God’s command to “have dominion” is also a call to stewardship. For those who may be unfamiliar with this term, stewardship has two meanings:
1. The position and duties of a steward. A person who acts as the surrogate of another or others, especially by managing property, financial affairs, and estate and so forth.
2. The responsible overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving.
Within Christian circles, it is believed that everything that we possess and enjoy on earth — our money, houses, jobs, children, and so forth — comes from God. Therefore, we are simply looking after all that He has given us, essentially making mankind stewards. The first definition is understood by most Christians in terms of stories such as “The Parable of the Talents,” which clearly illustrates this principle.
However, one of the things that The Ultimate Guide to Eve explores is the fact that we are also stewards over the other aspects that help us to obtain and maintain these responsibilities, such as our time, energy and health, and our emotional, mental and spiritual well-being. This clearly demonstrates that it is not just God’s responsibility to keep us well, and that a mere belief that God wants us to be well does nothing, and may actually be hampering our health.
I mean, how many times must we hear that “Faith without works is dead,” or that “While we’re waiting on God, God is waiting on us”? We’re used to hearing these adages applied to other aspects of our lives, but that does not detract from the fact that as good stewards, we also need to do the necessary work to be well. For would you not say that our bodies are also “worth caring for and preserving,” just like our material possessions? In fact, it could be argued even more so, because if you ever did become so seriously ill that you couldn’t work (I know, I know — God forbid!), what would happen to those things?
My mother, who also is a woman of God, unfortunately learned this the hard way when she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes last year. It was amazing to see how quickly she turned her lifestyle around — changing her diet with natural remedies, eating more vegetables, finding alternatives to sugar, you name it! She took the actions necessary to control her sugar levels through her eating.
The same thing happened with my dad when he was diagnosed with high blood pressure, back when I was still young enough to enjoy the Thomas the Tank Engine books. His blood pressure was so high that the doctors literally described him as a “ticking time bomb” and marveled that he hadn’t already had a stroke. With that scare, he quit smoking, changed his diet and started taking regular exercise through walking.
Discovering my role as steward through Eve and being old enough to recognize the seriousness of my mum’s diagnosis last year is what helped me to change my own lifestyle in January. I became very cognizant of the fact that I didn’t have to follow my parents’ path, and that it was my responsibility to ensure, as much as is in my control, that I don’t. Now, as a proudly plus-size lady, I am nowhere near perfect with this, but I have managed to change my lifestyle in the following ways:
1. I worked exercise into my routine: I started walking home from work every day, or on weekends simply throwing some music on and either dancing around my living room for about 20 minutes or getting on the cross trainer I invested in. The cross trainer also works well while watching TV.
2. I replaced certain foods: What used to be rice and stew has now become either quinoa and stew or bulgur wheat and stew. Cow’s milk has become almond milk. I’m also going to be very candid in saying that PMS cravings make it very difficult for me to give up chocolate “cold turkey.” However, since finding out that 85 percent chocolate is better for you, I now eat that when I want to indulge!
3. I learned healthy recipes: Radiant Health magazine is full of healthy tips and tricks, as are Facebook pages like Goodful and Black Women Losing Weight. What a relief it was when I realized that healthy food does not have to mean tasteless food!
4. I drink more water: I find plain water really boring, but infused water has solved that problem nicely — lemon and cucumber is my favorite.
5. I have a mindset of “being more healthy” rather than of losing weight: I have tried dieting in the past. It has never lasted long. I found that by making my goal to be more healthy rather than to lose weight, I have taken the pressure off myself and can enjoy the process more. There has been no beating myself up over “bad days” or becoming disheartened at a lack of progress. And guess what? I’ve lost weight by default and didn’t even realize it until my loved ones started commenting!
I share all of this to say that taking care of our health is not just our responsibility, it’s doable. However, if you choose not to, you are potentially making ill-health your “portion,” whether you — or God — will it or not.
Nina Dafe is the founder and editor of the Faraboverubiescollection.com, and author of The Ultimate Guide to Eve, which is set for release on July 31, 2017. Her mission is to help women understand God’s blueprint to womanhood and become the woman He ordained them to be. You can start her free email course, “Understand God’s Blueprint for Womanhood in 5 Days,” right now!
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