It’s January 28, so most New Year’s resolutions have bitten the dust or are about to. Do you know the top New Year’s resolution every year? That’s right. Lose weight. Most of us–in the Western world–would like to shed a few pounds. We don’t like our muffin top or back fat or cellulite. We have delusions of wearing our jeans from high school or some such rot. We’ve convinced ourselves that life will be better if we look better. And it’s true that confidence comes from feeling good about how you look. But there’s someone who couldn’t care less about how your body looks: your spirit.

Most people agree that there is something beyond our readily knowable, three-dimensional world. Whether we believe in heavenly beings or wood sprites, most of us know that we are much more than our physical selves. In fact, our physical selves are merely a glove we slip on and off at birth and death. They’re just the cool ride our spirits get to ride around in while they’re on earth. Do you think our spirit cares whether we can wear our jeans from high school?

Our spirit doesn’t care if our teeth are straight, our tummies are flat, our skin is smooth, or if we belong on the cover of Vogue or GQ. Those things are so infinitely meaningless from the infinite point of view. They’re nice to have, don’t get me wrong, and I would like all four, but all my spirit wants is a body to call home. Why? Our spirit can do nothing without its physical home. Think of it like a brain. Your brain can wiggle your toes but only if you have toes to wiggle. Your spirit can learn and grow but only if you have with what to learn and grow.

Think about what you can learn from hunger. Or fatigue. Or illness. Think how you can grow from extreme challenges to your self-control, i.e., children (having them, raising them, surviving them). What finer tutor is there than emotional pain? The greatest master teacher of all is aging. No way to do that without a body. (As an aside, my mother once told me, “Don’t marry a man until you’ve seen him hungry, angry, sick, and tired.”)

If our spirits never came to earth and never got bodies, they would be stuck in spirit limbo, never able to learn the (painful) lessons we learn every day here on earth. It would be fine if we could skip the painful lessons. But we can’t. We’re in a school called mortal life, and we have to graduate this school to go to the school called eternal life. We have to learn every lesson sooner or later, and a body is the only way to learn certain lessons.

So get on that treadmill if you want to (or need to). Choose the veggie side and skip the dessert now and then. But don’t let superficial “perfection” be the enemy of the spirit’s joy in your body. Your spirit is jumping for joy in your amazing body. Maybe you could enjoy a little of that joy while you’re on the treadmill. It couldn’t hurt.

photo credit: ExtensivelyReviewed treadmill Fitness Model Gym Workout Exercise – Must link to via photopin (license)

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