For most people, if you say the words “home improvement,” their first thought is of improving where they live somehow. For the past two months my wife and I have been refinishing, refurbishing and upgrading our kitchen. New countertops, painted walls, new tile backsplash, new ceiling lights, over and under cabinet lights… it’s been quite the project. We went into it knowing it wouldn’t be fast and with a clear plan of what we wanted to have when we were done. There are similar projects outside as well. The garage has been upgraded, the yard is constantly being worked on, the gardens have been “spring-a-fied” and more. The other day it dawned on me that while we’ve spent all this time improving our physical property, we’ve sometimes neglected our other home: The one we live in no matter where we are – ourselves.

Yes, it seems an odd thought. Christians have all heard, “Your body is a temple; treat it with respect.” Movie fans may have heard the line (from SWAT), “Our body’s a temple. We’re supposed to take care of it.” “And I treat mine like an amusement park. That’s the differences that make this country great.” Interestingly, the characters that had that conversation were exactly different than what you’d expect based on their voiced outlook. The one saying his body was a temple was out of shape, overweight, and eating fast food. The character (Jim Street) claiming to treat his body like an amusement park exercised regularly and was in great shape. Yeah… he consumed some alcohol on occasion and he might not eat as clean as he should, but his body was far more of a temple than the guy who said the words but ignored them in his health choices.

The focus of this entry is our perception (aren’t most of them about that in some way?) of “home improvement and how we prioritize/perceive such projects. When it comes to the home we live in, the structure we call an apartment, condo or house, we tend to plan well, have realistic time to completion expectations and more. The example above is a good one: Our kitchen renovation project was expansive and while we COULD have pushed it all to be done in two weeks, we’d have had to take leave time from work and lived that renovation all day every day until it was done. Had we done that, by the time we were finished, we’d have been sick of it. We’d have held a level of regret for the intrusion of the project in our life. But because we went into it knowing we were going to do what we could when we could, the project has taken longer than we projected, but it’s not been a thorn in our side. It is one we’ll be happy to complete and satisfied when we get to “the finish line.” We won’t regret it and we’ll appreciate the end result.

Taking on the “home improvement” project of our body and mind should be approached the same way. Sure, you can decide on a realistic time line, but one that’s only realistic if you drop everything in your life and dedicate yourself to whatever the improvement is you want to make. Lose weight? Yes, you can do that quickly, but not necessarily with the best impact on your health. You might have to take time off from work and completely change your dietary habits, and you can accomplish your goal in a couple weeks. After that, though, you’ll likely go back to the lifestyle that led you to being overweight in the first place and, ultimately, you’ll have wasted that time invested in losing weight. On the other hand, if you decide you want to be healthier overall – stronger, more flexible, with better cardiovascular and respiratory health, then accept the successful plan will take much longer. It won’t happen in two weeks. It’ll take six months or a year just to get to the baseline of where you’d like to be. Sure, how long it takes depends on where you’re starting from, but the point remains the same: It’s not a sprint from here to there. It’s a marathon with a method of travel that you adjust your days to.

Learning something new or changing your mentality on something is the same way. Yes, you can learn a new language in two weeks – even without saturating yourself in it. But if you want to be fluent in it and able to recall it ten years from now, that’s not the way to go about it. Stretch that learning of a new language out over six months and invest yourself in it regularly, and you’ll remember more for a longer time.

The bottom line message in all of this is that our body and mind is our true home, no matter where we are or what conditions we’re living under. We should pay even more attention to it than we do the place where we reside. Do we? Do you?

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