“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?” (1 Corinthians 6:19).
At 6:30 a.m., my son approaches me.
“Dad, can I do some yoga?”
All of 6 years old, he’s hauling out his yoga mat from behind the living room chair.
“Sure, buddy,” I say. He rolls out the well-worn mat while I turn on the recorded guide.
Watching him, I don’t believe my son’s interest in activity is accidental. His mother and I aren’t fitness gurus, but we do tell our boys when we’re heading to the gym, when we’ve signed up for a race, what our step goal is for the day and why their second helping is smaller than the first. We are trying to steward the bodies God gave us in the best ways we know how.
We are not obsessive; fitness and health aren’t the only topics we talk about. But we don’t want our healthy habits to be a secret either. Conveying an openness around physical, spiritual and mental health habits goes a long way toward equipping our children to care for their whole health.
I want my sons to have lots of tools in their toolboxes when it comes to tackling life in all its stages, because I know that our bodies change constantly. And one day they might, like me, fall into depression and not know where to turn.
Eventually I sought out a variety of solutions, including therapy and spiritual direction. One of the best things I did was lace up my sneakers.
Our bodies are temples of the Spirit; God calls us to steward them well.
I started running outside, soaking up vitamin D, endorphins forcing me to feel the way I couldn’t make myself feel.
My sons now join me or my wife on short runs. Sometimes they take their scooters, and sometimes they just jog alongside. Slowly and surely, we bond over the pavement, covering a mile or two at a time. It’s both meditative and active. Solitary and communal.
It is spiritual.
When I became a parent, I thought I would have to model many things for my children: kindness, empathy, hard work, honesty, deep faith. But in the years since babyhood, I’ve added “movement” to that epic list. I hope they’ll see that movement, whether running, yoga or other exercise, is not optional. Our bodies are temples of the Spirit; God calls us to steward them well.
My son’s still on his yoga mat, stretching out the stresses of first grade. In response to the guide, he breathes deeply, calming his mind and his body.
I watch him complete his practice while sitting in a meditative pose with his eyes closed and heart open. I hope this pose becomes the blueprint for his entire being.
Faithful parenting isn’t just about caring for another human. It’s about equipping them to care for themselves—body, mind and spirit.