Rethinking Health, Wellness, and Wellbeing

sunset rays MGD©health
noun: the state of being free from illness or injury.
well
adjective: in good health; in a good or satisfactory state
wellbeing
noun: the state of being happy, healthy, or successful

My recent knee injury and the resultant experience at the orthopedic surgeon’s office have me rethinking health, wellness, and wellbeing. On the knee itself, the good news is that my knee is getting better, it doesn’t really hurt anymore and the popping and clicking is much less frequent; the bad news is I have a torn medial meniscus. As I am doing relatively well, my new doctor is advising conservative measures and we will see how it goes.

But let me rewind the story a bit, back to a month ago, just before my orthopedic surgery appointment. Because I was a new patient, quite a bit of paperwork was necessary including the “Past Medical History” form. You know that form – the one that asks, “do you have or have you ever had….?” Normally I don’t think too much about any of my past or present medical conditions, but completing the form requires one to do so. As I worked down the list, gradually attending to my issues I began to experience a mild sense of discomfort thinking, Hmm… there’s a lot of stuff here.

Finally I was done, looking at the completed form and thinking about my issues – chronic sinusitis and allergies, a few dermatologic conditions, a couple of potentially problematic “internal medicine-type” issues, and a bunch of musculoskeletal things too (“-itis’s” and more). But wait, I’m healthy! Right?! were my immediate thoughts. This stuff really doesn’t matter; I’m still healthy. That was probably just a reaction to uncomfortable truths because, according to the dictionary definitions above, I might not be healthy and well.

Since then I’ve been rethinking what it means to be well. Because, truly, I think I am well. I feel well. I have energy and vigor of body, mind, and spirit even though I have limitations. Having a bad knee does not mean I am not well. I’m eating right and exercising six days a week. Hopefully my knee will continue to get better. If so, I certainly will have a greater degree of physical health, but I don’t think I’ll have more wellness or wellbeing.

But what if I were further compromised? Many people have moderate or severe physical limitations that will never improve. Others have mental limitations. Can you be well when you have no physical vigor? I think so, and I think my mother demonstrated that. Mom must have been the “most well” person ever to die of gallbladder cancer. Initially her mental vigor persisted while her body weakened. Later even as death loomed, and her mind tired, her spirit still glowed. Truly, Mom was well despite her terminal condition.

Where does this kind of wellness or wellbeing come from? From God the Father, through the work of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. When we fully open ourselves to receive the grace of God, he will fill us. We may or may not lose the weight, control the diabetes, recover from the cancer, but we will be well.

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A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance. John 10:10