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COLUMN: How is your physical, spiritual, emotional health?

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By John Lapp

In my many years as a mental health professional, I am amazed at how many people I have witnessed who spend an enormous amount of time, and often large sums of money, taking good care of their physical health with very little time spent with the balance of what also really counts — their spiritual and emotional self.
Now, before you go off on me as if the physical body is not an important factor to keep as healthy as is possible, don’t jump to conclusions. I have always believed that being active in activities or sports is healthy, but those who are obsessed with these things can actually become dull people as it relates to full development of the potential that awaits them with the inclusion of both spiritual and emotionally enriching things.
Why is it that I keep running across individuals who live in a country where we can attend whichever church we choose, but regularly hear things like “I’m religious, but not very spiritual” or the opposite of that “I’m spiritual, but not very religious”? I also occasionally have a child tell me, “I’ve never been to church,” and the child is nearly 10 years old.
Now, I know that many people believe that “the church is full of hypocrites,” and there is likely some truth to that, but have you ever thought that maybe that’s why they still go? Maybe in the process of learning, they could change and stop being a hypocrite. Yes, the church does have hypocrites, and so do other organizations.
In the Spencer County area, we seem to have a variety of good churches, churches who are led by staff that actually teach what God has intended to be taught to the congregation who attend.
There are some churches, however, that are nothing more than a religious “social club,” an entertainment package, that draws people together for things other than what worship is designed to be. We should worship God and learn what he wants for our lives. If the worship of God is the overall design and plan of that church’s ministry, it is more than likely on the correct path.
Well, what about emotional development? It is amazing to me that with all the material, including books, available in this time in our country’s history, that books and good literature that can be both emotionally and intellectually stimulating are replaced with viewing something on TV or browsing the Internet.
There have been so many occasions when I have asked a client about what they are doing to change their lives for the better, only to hear a response such as “well, I don’t know ... uh, I don’t know what you mean.” That is not a “rocket-science”-type question. It means, “what are you doing to stimulate your intellectual and emotional self?” There have been many occasions when a client has admitted they haven’t read a book, or any worthwhile literature, in decades. That is a prescription for developing and maintaining a dull mind and dull existence.
I would like to make a point here about the necessity of caring for yourself in the physical area of your life. First of all, most of us like to eat, right? And, probably most of us have had a certain craving for a certain tasty food item. (I haven’t run into too many people who will not, to one degree or another, admit to being a lover of chocolate, some even admit to being an addict.) Others have a lust for ice cream, or doughnuts or pizza. While that is true, we are fast becoming a very unhealthy society, according to many recent reports. And all of this with the latest programs designed to help increase our overall health.
Have you ever passed through the checkout line without seeing, often considered by the writers, to be “the best” new diet program that should work for you? Of course, it has worked for some celebrity mentioned in the article, and should be proof enough that this will really work. There are some people who have actually attempted to become more healthy and have experienced very little overall change and have been on dozens of these diets.
I have tried some of them over the years, but have also still had the cravings just like some of you, and let’s admit it (with some measure of shame-faced sobriety) most, maybe all, dieters cheat.
Now, most of us do not believe that cheating is a “cardinal sin,” and that may be true, but no wonder that diet didn’t work. It may not be the diet’s fault.
Well, come on Dr. Lapp, get off this subject! Okay, I will, only because I have also failed to follow the plan as suggested in that diet, without still having to sort of cheat with my special treat that, of course, I deserve! Right?
When I had finally put all of this to rest, and began to trust God to help me get this thing to really work, the first thing I had to do was be honest with myself and really seek to get serious. That prompted me to find some way to develop this old body with an excellent program that works. I have more recently been increasingly serious about my responsibility to do what has been done for centuries. I try to be constantly aware of not just the food intake, but the need for regular exercise, a program done at home, not at some costly health spa. Most people begin with fervor and excitement, going regularly but then taper off with less visits, and eventually don’t go very often or drop out altogether.
Before new-fangled exercise machines were developed and programs sold to the public, there was a healthy program of walking, push-ups, small weights with repitition, even mowing the lawn by pushing a mower. What has become of the push mowers, or at least the power mowers which required the user to walk behind while guiding the power mower? We’ve replaced them with the “necessity” of a riding mower, even if the lawn is not that large. (Of course, with more acreage, let’s ride the mower.)
My overall weight at this present time is about eight to 10 pounds heavier than when I was discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1960. Much of this can be attributed to grit, determination and much prayer. I have also used a new program with several of my family members to much success.
So, concentrate on your overall health, not just one aspect that you may feel is the most important. Your spiritual, emotional and physical self is who you really are and needs to be both developed and maintained in the overall best and healthiest manner possible. God bless you as you improve. For more information call 502-477-2818 or  904-699-8417.