During the first week of February, for a period of about 30 minutes, I had a lively mental intersection with the word intentional – doing something on purpose.
Those of you who don’t live in the Midwest may not know that during the first week of February those of us who live in the Chicago area were dealing with snow – what I would call a serious snow (about 10 inches) which we have not seen in a few years. And part of dealing with this serious snow involved getting out and starting up the snow blower. This is a relatively new thing for us. For the first 30 years of our marriage, we dealt with snow the old fashioned way – with snow shovels. But a few years ago, some good friends moved south and sold us what my husband calls “the Barbie snow blower” because of its small, compact size and easy maneuverability (assuming you can get the thing started). But start it did and I was glad about that.
And so I went about the process of snow blowing and as I did so, all I could think about was my dad. My dad managed snow removal at my childhood home with a drive way that is three times the length of my current driveway. I remember seeing him out there wearing his black Russian hat and bravely shoveling that snow for hours until the driveway was passable. And when that was done, he would go over to my grandparent’s house and help them.
I’m going to be honest enough to admit that I really enjoy the comfort and convenience of our newly acquired snow blower. But my 30 minutes of snow blowing made me keenly aware of how much of my life is ruled by things designed for my comfort or convenience. What used to be a pretty good workout on a snowy day has now become nothing more than a brief interruption in my schedule. And as I thought about this, I was convicted of why it is so very important that I be intentional, as opposed to indifferent, about actively moving my body throughout the day. And I was, in a sense, disappointed with myself when I thought about how easily I have readily accepted and enjoyed things that enhance my comfort and convenience often without giving a thought about the impact of those things on my health.
With all of our creature comforts, it is just so easy to make “taking it easy” a way of life. Consider the contrast reported in a study of Old Order Amish adults (Dr. Bassett, University of Tennessee, 2004) where it was found that these average Amish adult males and females took over 18,000 and 14,000 steps per day respectively, while the average American struggles to even approach the commonly recommended 10,000 steps per day.
King Solomon addresses the problem of getting into the habit of “taking it easy” in Proverbs 24:30-34:
I went past the field of a sluggard, past the vineyard of someone who has no sense;
thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds,
and the stone wall was in ruins.
I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw:
A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest--
and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.
While this passage does not specifically refer to the maintenance of our health, I believe there are some helpful considerations and applications. King Solomon looks at someone’s vineyard and observes that, instead of producing fruit, it is in a state of neglect and disrepair. From this, he learns the lesson that a little “taking it easy” can, over time, lead to a significant negative result. This lesson rings true in just about every area of life, including the maintenance of our health.
To be indifferent is to have no particular interest or be unconcerned.
To be intentional is to do something deliberately or on purpose.
My 30 minutes of snow blowing reminded me that I need to be careful to not be indifferent to the potential negative impact of removing snow the easy way. Given all of my creature comforts, if I am going to actively move my body every day, I will have to make an intentional decision to do that rather than leaving it to chance. Does this mean that I have to get rid of my snow blower and do everything manually as do many of the Amish? Not necessarily. But it does mean that, if I do partake of the comfort and convenience offered by my snow blower, I need to intentionally find another way to incorporate physical activity into my life.
How about you? Do you have some creature comforts? Have you become accustomed to their presence and indifferent to the potential negative impact on your daily activity levels? Have you made an intentional decision to maintain an active lifestyle in another way?
When it comes to daily activity, don’t be indifferent to the impact of your favorite creature comforts, but do be intentional about maintaining a healthy level of physical activity in spite of them.
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About the author:
Hello! My name is Ginger Hill and I am a Christ follower and a wellness professional. Over the years, I have personally and professionally seen the benefits of healthy living and I have also seen the hardships of struggling to practice good health habits in the midst of a busy and sometimes stressful life. I am passionate about helping myself and others to live a healthy lifestyle and I believe that good health is essential in helping us to do the good works that God has called us to do. Because I am a work in progress, I write these blog posts to encourage myself and I share them with others in the hope that they may be encouraged as well.
Psalm 92:12,14 (NLT)
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