When I was a kid, I always wanted red hair.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, go ahead with your red-head jokes and jabs. I always thought red hair was beautiful and I wanted nothing more than to have long, auburn locks when I was younger.
So when I was old enough to comprehend what resurrection meant and that one day my body would be restored to its "perfect frame," I automatically envisioned my perfect frame as having long, red hair.
While this obviously didn't matter in the grand scheme of things, it really mattered to 5-year-old me who, in an extremely morbid way in hindsight, really couldn't wait to be resurrected with red hair.
Absurd, right? At least, when compared to the majesty of having a resurrected body in the first place and the price that was paid on Gethsemane for me to have an eternal life.
But even though I've grown up some since then, I still struggle with that 5-year-old level absurdity in the way I think when it comes to the resurrection. It just shifted from red hair to other things.
In college, I really struggled with an unhealthy body image. I would often punish myself for eating "unhealthy" foods (i.e. anything with an ounce of fat or sugar in it) by spending way too much time exercising and skipping meals to the point where I couldn't sleep because I was so hungry. During this time, I sometimes looked in the mirror and wondered if this was my "perfect frame," or if my emaciated body would ever look perfect to me.
This caused me to wonder, "What was the point? What's the point of working this hard if I will never be happy with what my body looks like?"
Fortunately, I eventually saw what I was doing to my body was extremely harmful and dangerous. Slowly, I began to cultivate truly healthy habits that helped my mind and my body heal.
But I still wondered sometimes, "What's the point? What's the point of putting in the work of taking care of my body now if it will be made perfect later?"
Here are three reasons I've found that show just how important it is to take care of our bodies now even though they will eventually be made perfect in the resurrection.
1. It's a commandment.
This topic has always been an important one to our Heavenly Father. Even in ancient Isreal, God established laws that revolved around healthy lifestyles for the time.
Daniel is a great example of this. When he was taken captive into Babylon, Daniel kept the same dietary commandments he knew were from God and he was blessed both mentally and physically because of his obedience.
"God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
"And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm" (Daniel 1: 17, 20).
Today, we have the Word of Wisdom and other commandments that teach us how we should take care of our bodies. We we are also promised blessings for following God's commandments to take care of our bodies.
“All saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;
“And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;
“And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.
“And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them” (D&C 89:18–21).
2. How we treat our bodies now will affect our eternal progression.
As President George Albert Smith said:
"I sometimes wonder if Latter-day Saints realize that [the Word of Wisdom] has been given to us for our exaltation; not only for our temporal blessing, but to prepare us for spiritual life. . . . (President George Albert Smith, "Temporal and Spiritual Blessings from the Word of Wisdom," Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith (2010)).
Elder L. Tom Perry also shared what effect taking care of our bodies now has on our spiritual progression because of their sacred nature.
“The scriptures testify as to how important our physical bodies are to our eternal progress," Elder L. Tom Perry said. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are’ (1 Corinthians 3:16–17)” (L. Tom Perry, “The Tradition of a Balanced, Righteous Life,” 32).
While we may think that how we treat our bodies will only affect our mortal life, there could be eternal consequences if we ignore the commandments and mistreat our bodies.
3. Our bodies and our spirits are linked.
Though we often see our bodies and spirits as separate, unrelated entities, the scriptures show us that the condition of the body can affect the spirit.
"That’s why the Lord gave us the Word of Wisdom," President Ezra Taft Benson said. "He also said that we should retire to our beds early and arise early (see D&C 88:124), that we should not run faster than we have strength (see D&C 10:4), and that we should use moderation in all good things. . . . Food can affect the mind, and deficiencies of certain elements in the body can promote mental depression. . . . Rest and physical exercise are essential, and a walk in the fresh air can refresh the spirit. Wholesome recreation is part of our religion, and a change of pace is necessary, and even its anticipation can lift the spirit” (Ezra Taft Benson, “Do Not Despair,” Ensign, Nov. 1974, 66).
There is also the effect healthy living now has on our ability to receive personal revelation. As President Nelson said, "In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost" (President Russell M. Nelson, "Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives," April 2018 General Conference).
While I used to wonder why it mattered how I treated my body now if it was going to be made perfect after the resurrection, it's clear to me now that our bodies are very precious to our Heavenly Father. He cares about how we treat our bodies now because they are such an important part of His plan for our eternal happiness. There is so much that we can gain by taking care of our bodies in this life that will bless us in the eternities to come.
Lead image from Getty Images