While speaking recently with a group of students about sex crimes, I brought up the interconnectedness of the spirit, soul, and body. I used the example of a rape victim who suffers effects besides the physical pain, and we explored the emotional, psychological, sociological, and even spiritual effects of the trauma.
This example could easily help to explain my wholistic approach to ministry. That is, I believe that we are created with spirit, soul, and body, and that the most effective and complete approach to ministry is one that ministers to all aspects of who we are as human beings created in the image of God.
With that said, one of the greatest stress and health related disorders affecting the law enforcement profession is cardiovascular disease. I’ve heard all sorts of statistics and stories of law enforcement officer’s who die in their 50’s or shortly after retirement due to heart disease and heart attacks. The reasons are plentiful: ongoing stress and adrenaline dumps, lack of adequate rest, unhealthy diets, unhealthy habits or addictions to tobacco and alcohol, unresolved emotional and psychological tensions, and more.
Couple the above factors with my family history of heart disease and high cholesterol, and suffice it to say that at the age of 31 I am a little concerned. My father suffered a heart attack at the age of 39, and has had other complications since. My brother suffered a heart attack at the age of 29, although in his case an extraordinarily sedentary lifestyle is also to blame. The fact is, I’m thin, eat well, live an active lifestyle, and have a genetic disposition to cholesterol that untreated is in the 270+ range. And, after years of taking statin drugs and experiencing negative side-effects, I committed at the beginning of this year to a life change.
Enter Dr James L. Marcum, MD and his new book The Ultimate Prescription. Dr Marcum is a local physician with a good reputation in the community as both a doctor and Christian. When the first visit concluded with Dr Marcum praying for me and agreeing to a personalized plan that didn’t simply include more medicine or tests, I knew I should take advantage of this unique opportunity.
During the month of February, I read his book. In it, he takes a story-telling approach to wholistic care that is both practical and biblical. He uses real life scenarios to talk about the journey to health that he has taken with several of his patients. His approach is that we must get back to the basics of Creation. “The Creator wants to lead you back to the original plan He established at Creation,” he says.
There is a definite spiritual aspect in which Dr Marcum encourages right relationship with God. He helps the reader develop a perspective of God that will increase intimacy and better understand God’s love for His creation. And, there are very practical steps to wholeness as Dr Marcum highlights each day of Creation and its significance to heart health and well-being.
His advice includes things like, don’t eat late at night, reduce refined and processed food intake, drink plenty (if not only) pure water, get plenty of rest, and other basics. But, not only does he go into the basics, he explains why these practices are important. For instance, he explains that the digestive process slows or stops at night. The point of eating is to provide fuel for the body’s activities. So, we eat late at night when we don’t need to, the undigested food rots and sours as it sits in our stomachs (a 98 degree, humid environment), and then we wake up feeling unrested, nauseous, and unable to eat in the morning when we really need the fuel. Yep, that’s been my cycle for quite some time.
Then, after the basics, he goes deeper into issues. He also provides an appendix in which he explains the various symptoms associated with heart attack and heart disease, the tests that are used, and the treatments that are provided.
Sure, I may not agree with everything Dr Marcum suggests, but the book is definitely worth reading. Many of the changes will take time. Dr Marcum even said that it took 10 years for him to fully align his diet and lifestyle with what he suggests. Now, however, he feels better than he ever has. I’m starting to feel better too.
As cops especially, we need to take care of ourselves. I believe that our spiritual vitality is definitely connected to our physical and emotional health. I know that we go through trials and troubles that test our faith and draw us closer to God, but I’m speaking about our general, day-to-day well-being. We must get serious and determined about living healthy. Our lives and families depend on it.