Starting A New Healthy Life – A Holistic Approach

Photo by Ali Pazani on Pexels.com

We walk around life in a haze. We have ignored what matters most in life in order to walk around in our own world of illusions. We like to think we’re okay, but we’re not. We think we’re in good physical shape but most of us are overweight, taking more medication than we should, and eat like teenagers at a county fair. Our bodies are screaming for us to stop abusing them, but we just keep hurting ourselves and mask that abuse with medications, treatments, and a multitude of other distractions. Most of us are embracing death more than life by killing ourselves slowly through food and immobility. Sigmund Freud believed human beings have a “thanatos drive” which in layman’s terms is a type of death wish. There are many times I think he was on to something. It’s not just our bodies we’re killing, most of us have become lazy thinkers as well. We tell ourselves that we’re thoughtful and deep thinkers, but we can barely spend more than three minutes looking at a social media post. We like to think we spend time learning new and important things and we’re staying informed but most of our time is consumed with irrelevant junk food for the mind. If we’re honest with ourselves we might actually find we’re more likely succumbing to the psychological traps of group think, confirmation bias, and feeding our minds with news stories that support what we already believe. We’re comfortable with what we know and we seldom challenge our beliefs in order to grow.


So, we continue to fool ourselves by believing we’re physically okay and that we’re much more thoughtful than we really are. We’re lazy thinkers and afraid to challenge our opinions and knowledge by engaging different opinions and new ideas. It doesn’t stop there, however, because we’re also emotionally lazy. We choose to be emotionally numb instead of engage our emotions and the emotional lives of others. We’re afraid to let others see us cry, be saddened by the tragedies we see on television, and we keep ourselves from becoming angry at the daily injustice we see people experience. We aren’t comfortable feeling our emotions and we’re unable to talk about them with even the closest people in our lives. We ignore the emotions of other people we meet every day and avoid celebrating with them or being a comforting voice they need while they suffer. We have indeed become emotionally lazy and numb.


When we don’t take care of our emotional lives and ignore our physical well-being, we also negatively impact our relationships with other people. Too often we take our relationships for granted or only see them in utilitarian ways. We ask what the relationship does for us instead of how we can help and be of service to the people in our lives. We need to ask ourselves, “How can I love this person in the way they need me to love them instead of the way I want to love them?” We’re lazy with our relationships and when that happens, we isolate ourselves which isn’t good for our mental or physical well-being.


A final part of our lives we’ve grown lazy in is our spiritual life. We’re so caught up in the material aspects of life that we forget we’re a transcendent creature who is not merely a body or merely a spirit in a body, but a human being with a body and spirit meant to live within the physical world with a transcendent sense of reality. For most of us spirituality is that convenient experience we have when we want to pray to get something from the divine or to ease our anxiety about death, tragedy, and daily inconveniences. Your spiritual life must be bigger than that. It has to embrace a larger meaning and purpose that guides your everyday life.


If you have a better understanding of who you are, you can begin to see the many places where you’re functioning in a way that keeps you from living a fully human life. People ignore the different dimensions of human life, overemphasize some, or have a completely skewed understanding of how they interact with one another. They might be really into physical fitness but then find themselves completely ignoring their spiritual life. They may be hyper-spiritual people but end up ignoring their physical well-being. They may think that the things they believe have little to no impact on how they develop relationships with other people. I have encountered some people who see relationships in purely utilitarian terms and so they live for what others can do for them. The opposite is true as well, some people have no boundaries and expend themselves in service to others to the point of exhaustion. We must understand, to be truly healthy and live well is to live well holistically. We need to live with bodies in the best physical condition our situation allows, minds as sharp as we can make them, a level of emotional intelligence that allows us to know how we and others feel, in balanced relationships that have healthy boundaries, and with a spiritual sense that allows us to infuse life with meaning and purpose. It’s my hope I can help you achieve these results so please, check back with us and let me know your thoughts and how I can serve you.

Building Communities of Forgiveness

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

It was a warm June night and like most Wednesday nights at numerous churches across the country people were gathering for prayer and bible study. For years, this gathering was uneventful but, on this night, a white man named Dylann Roof entered the church and sat quietly pondering his next move. He was welcomed by those in attendance and even claimed because of their kindness he was reconsidering his violent intentions. Unfortunately, the evening didn’t end in peace, Dylann pulled out his gun and killed nine people including the pastor Clementa Pinckney. Dylann killed without discrimination in regard to gender or age, he was only interested in killing people because they were black. His disdain for African Americans and feelings of hatred motivated him to pull the trigger on his weapon again and again. Among the dead were Sharonda Coleman-Singleton a 45-year-old mother of three and a high school track coach. Cynthia Hurd age 54, a librarian at the public library for 31 years. Tywanza Sanders, a young 26-year-old graduate of Allen University in Columbia. Tywanza died trying to save his 87-year-old aunt Susie Jackson who was also killed that evening. He told Dylann to shoot him and leave his aunt alone but reports say Dylann said it didn’t matter he was going to kill everyone anyway. After he killed Tywanza he eventually shot Susie Jackson. Tywanza was the youngest victim to die that night and his aunt the oldest. This story is beyond tragic and unfortunately not the only of its kind.

The question is if any of these events happened to you or someone you love could you forgive the perpetrator? The answer has to be yes. Why does it have to be yes? Because if it’s no, then we’re trapped in a cycle of hatred and self-defeat giving the demons in hell something to celebrate. They rejoice with every act of vengeance and self-loathing that terror and violence inflict on the survivors of trauma. If we can’t forgive people, we’re forever held captive by the traumatic experiences they’ve inflicted upon us.

The most moving words of forgiveness I’ve ever read came from the families of the victims killed that night at Mother Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The Washington Post published an article on June 19th by Elahe Izadi called “The Powerful Words of Forgiveness Delivered to Dylann Roof by Victims’ Relatives” which captured the exemplary Christian spirit of forgiveness this community incarnationally represented to Charleston and the world. Here are some of the things these hurting wounded people had to say to the man who killed those they loved simply because of the color of their skin:

“We welcomed you Wednesday night in our Bible study with welcome arms. You have killed some of the most beautiful people that I know. Every fiber in my body hurts and I’ll, I’ll never be the same. Tywanza Sanders was my son. But Tywanza Sanders was my hero. Tywanza was my hero. … May God have mercy on you.” – Felicia Sanders, mother of Tywanza Sanders.

“I forgive you. You took something very precious away from me. I will never get to talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you and have mercy on your soul. … You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people. If God forgives you, I forgive you”. – Nadine Collier, daughter of victim Ethel Lance.

If you’re like me you hear these words and say to yourself, “I’m not sure I could be that forgiving.” I understand. Forgiving someone appears to be a monumental task when someone killed a person you love through a senseless act of violence. But believe me, you can forgive people who do these terrible things. The surviving relatives of these victims aren’t superhuman, they’re superheroes of forgiveness. These are men and women just like you and me. That’s comforting and scary at the same time. It’s comforting because it means you and I can choose to be forgiving people. It’s scary because it means just like these ordinary people we might find ourselves needing to forgive someone who acted in the same way as Dylann Roof. The important lesson to learn from these brave families is we can be forgiving because forgiveness is a choice. Like love, forgiveness is more about choices than feelings. When we choose to forgive someone, we must learn to behave and think in a particular way that impacts how we feel about the situation. Thinking, feeling, and behaving are intimately connected. I know many of you reading this are saying, “Just choosing to forgive someone doesn’t make me feel like I forgave them. Because I don’t feel like I’ve forgiven them I must not be a forgiving person.” Yet, this first choice to forgive is indeed an important step in the process. The choice to forgive and then acting in a forgiving way leads to feelings that come with being a forgiving person.

If we are to develop communities of peace, we must first discover how to be communities of forgiveness. Leaders of communities set that tone and example. My challenge to you as a community leader is to do that very thing. Lead your community into the experience of forgiveness and watch it grow and flourish.

(The above is taken from Dr. Hankle’s book “The Christian Vocation of Forgiveness” that can be purchased here.)