When something is lost, or is messed up, the solution is often simple. The solution is to simply go back in time before we messed up, or lost whatever it is we’ve lost, and fix the problem at its origin. I recently read a book, Pagan Christianity, which focused around this idea, stating that the Church needs to get back to what it was at its beginnings, in order to fix its problems today. I follow paleo and primal diet ideas vigorously, also. Both of these diets follow the same idea of going back to earlier times to see how one should eat for optimal health. So what does it look like to trace our steps? How can our pasts inform our futures?
When my grandfather passed away, earlier this year, there was a moment before the funeral that I found a room and got alone to grieve, before being with the rest of the family again. I was in his bedroom when I saw a single piece of paper sticking out of one of his old Matthew Henry Bible commentaries. The note was in Deuteronomy 3. It read about how the Israelites would defeat King Og, just like they’ve defeated others before. The last thing I got from my grandfather was this note explaining how we must learn from the victories of others before us. My grandfather had won the good race of life (he finished the last lap of his race on March 1st, 2015). He lived a holy life and was the most excited and joyful man that I’ve ever known. His life showed how getting to go to church should excite us, because we never know what God is going to do! (He would talk all year round about this men’s retreat that he got to go, where we all saw God bless many people many times – this was the highlight of his year, every year!) He was married to my grandmother for 49 years, when he passed away. I have learned exactly what kind of man I want to be from him and from seeing his past.
We often see good and bad examples from the past. I learned what kind of man I wanted to be from my grandfather, but I learned what kind of man I want to keep from being from my own past. I’ve been a manipulator and a deceiver and a liar and a pervert and a backstabber and more. I have hurt those closest to me and I have scared myself, seeing who I once became. I saw myself in a mirror – that mirror being the Word of God and the eyes of others – and I made a decision to never be that guy again.
Captain America understood this bit of wisdom, when he discovered Hydra agents (bad guys) hidden amongst the ranks of Shield agents (good guys) in the movie, Captain America: Winter Soldier. In this movie, Captain America decides that all of Shield and all of Hydra had to go down together, because he learned that Hydra infiltrated Shield from its very conception. He understood that they all had to go back to what it was like before the bad guys had a way in. Captain America led people to a better future by informing their future with their past.
Another place where we can see the past informing our future is in the movie, Inside Out. In this movie, we see the inside of a young girl’s mind with all of her emotions, as different characters. Anytime a major event occurs in her life, a “core memory” is then formed. With these “core memories”, a new “land” is then formed in the girl’s mind. Each land represents a part of her personality. I believe that this is accurate to a degree. I think all of us have huge events in our lives that occur and shape part of our personalities.
So, what does this all have to do with health? When I think of health, I think of an optimal life that is beneficial to an individual and to those around him / her. Thus, concerning our physical health, we must look to a time before we developed all the mental diseases and other prominent health issues of our modern times. We discover eating habits from the palaeolithic age of man were the habits that allowed our bodies to have the most optimal health, with the least amount of modern diseases. All current scientific information confirms that this type of eating is the healthiest for us, which is why I promote both the paleo and primal diets, to many people that I talk to. Our spiritual lives are informed by those we observe who have lived before us, by the choices we’ve made thus far, and by the religious institutions we subscribe to. Our mental health also relies on the information we read about from those who went before us, the events that shaped our behavioural patterns in the past, and more. We must let our past mistakes inform our future decisions; we must let ourselves strive to be like those who came before us and lived exemplary lives; we must let ourselves (as a community) imitate the Church as it was when it was filled with fruit (love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self-control).
We mustn’t live in the past, but we absolutely have to let our pasts inform our futures. By reflecting on the past, we can figure out the best ways to live healthy lifestyles for our bodies, minds, and souls today. So I urge everyone to spend time reflecting on their personal past, the pasts of those in their families who have went before us, and to reflect on events in our lives that may have shaped who we are now. I ask us all to do this so that, going into the New Year, we can all make informed decisions about what kind of men and women we want to be.
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Reading / Reference List:
The book that inspired this post initially was Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices, by Frank Viola and George Barna!
To learn more about how the paleolithic era diets can help wioth one’s diet today, then read Mark Sission’s book, The Primal Blueprint!
Grain Brain, written by David Perlmutter, is a great read for how this type of diet also helps one’s mental health!