Last year I made choices in my life that were transformational. Physically, I look different (I’ve lost 65 pounds!), but the major changes occurred in my heart and the way I think. The impact has been so positive that I believe God has called me to start a new program at our church called Healthy Transformations (see sidebar).
My husband, David, and I are the corps officers of New Westminster Citadel in British Columbia. Our ministry includes pastoring a church and supervising a family and community services program, daycare, shelter, men’s transition house, bed program and a back-to-work initiative called Holy Rollers. We feel blessed to have been part of this busy ministry for more than nine years.
Over the last few years, however, I have struggled with my overall health, battling chronic back and stomach pains and headaches. When I shared these complaints with my doctor, he put me through numerous tests. My blood pressure was high, thyroid levels were out of whack and I was diagnosed with a “fatty” liver. I was also overweight. Well, not just overweight, but obese. It was the doctor’s comment of “you have a fatty liver” that made me take a closer look at myself.
How did I get this way? I had been overweight for a long time. Although I had tried numerous diets, every time I lost some weight, I gained it back. I realized that things needed to change, but didn’t know what I could do differently this time that would make a difference. Being a corps officer is demanding. We are asked to do all sorts of things in our ministry and though gratifying, it can also be exhausting. For seven years I managed to be a pastor and administrator, but then started to notice a lack of energy and empathy on my part. I couldn’t function as I wanted to and was frequently short-tempered and sad. I came to a point where I needed to reach out for some pastoral care for myself. When my doctor diagnosed me with compassion fatigue, I decided that some changes needed to happen and I started on a new journey.
I began meeting with a Christian counsellor who helped me understand the importance of healthy boundaries. I realized that in order to be the pastor that God called me to be, I needed to recognize that he also called me to rest. It was OK for me to sit at Jesus’ feet to listen and wait.
As my mind and spirit healed, I also recognized that my body needed healing. While seeking Jesus’ guidance with this physical healing, I decided to see a naturopath to get my diet under control. She worked with me and put me on a very restrictive diet where all refined sugars were eliminated. For 40 days, I was allowed fruits, vegetables and protein and then I moved to the next phase of adding more foods into my diet.
God showed me that I could not do this on my own. Only he could sustain me through this process. I needed to depend on him. Every morning I started my day off by praying and meditating on God’s Word. I asked God to continue to strengthen me throughout the day. As I began to eat the proper foods, I started to feel better and lose weight. In addition to changing my diet, I also started a fitness routine that encouraged me to push myself physically. He placed the right people in my path and I finally recognized that I was not in control. Healing needed to happen in my body, mind and soul. I realized I could not improve physically until I had surrendered my need for God’s healing over my mind and soul first.
I still have days where I don’t pay attention to my body as I should. The difference now is that I have been given the knowledge and tools to recognize what I need. It may be that I have not spent enough quality time with God, need to give my body some exercise or must watch what I eat.
Throughout this stage of my journey, I recognized that I need balance in my life. I know that there must be others who have come to this same conclusion for their own lives. Since I lost significant weight and very obvious changes were made, many people have wanted to know what I did. People long to find a healthy balance in their lives. They struggle to experience this for many reasons—lack of rest, unresolved pain, stress in the workplace, poor diet, lack of physical fitness, insufficient spiritual direction. The inability to face these tough things in life can throw us into turmoil.
I’m grateful to the people who came alongside me on this journey of healing. God placed them in my life at just the right time. Above all, I thank God for the transforming work that he has done in my life.
Captain Lisa Macpherson is the corps officer of New Westminster Citadel, B.C.
Body, Mind and Spirit
New Westminster Citadel has initiated a program called Healthy Transformations. The program involves lifestyle workshops (such as conflict resolution, budgeting, boundaries and nutrition). On Tuesday evenings, the corps offers a Bible study that is geared toward healthy living. One of the resources used is Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan (available for free at Danielplan.com). The Bible study is then followed by a fitness class for men and women led by a trained fitness instructor. On Thursdays, a second class for women is held along with a functional training class for seniors and people with mobility challenges.