There are some posts where God works on my heart by just marinating a subject for a while. He gives me something–either by my own revelation, or a comment from someone–and then adds on top of it as the weeks pass. It’s a gradual process but by the end of it, I feel so strongly about it, that I can barely type fast enough to get it off my chest. This post is that and even THEN some. Unfortunately, I’ve wanted to write about it for a couple weeks now, but because of a million other things in life, “deep writing” gets pushed to the backburner.
I’ve found this really interesting problem and frustration with those who are trying to figure out this whole healthy life. It’s the problem of motivation in health–of keeping longevity and sustainability. I get a lot of questions from people asking me what my motivation is. How do I keep going day after day? Well friends, it’s a multi-faceted answer, but I think that I’ve found out the reason that you haven’t gotten to that point.
It’s because you are confused. It’s because you haven’t found YOUR health sweet spot.
Yes–you are confused. You are trying to fit a spot in your health journey that is not your place to be. You are trying to be like me, your sister, or your favorite instructor, when in reality, that’s not where your sweet spot is! Now don’t take this as gospel. I don’t necessarily think it’s always as clear cut as this, but as I was thinking (and talking!) through this example, I really believe it rings true for many. When you have confidence in WHY God has placed you in a spot, then it’s MUCH EASIER to stay motivated to stay in that spot. Still confused? Well, I am going to try to help it make sense.
Check out this triangle below. Let me explain:
The bottom level is the biggest level and that’s the level of STEWARDSHIP. It’s the level where all of us should be. I don’t think that any of us can deny that the stewardship of our health is something that God has given us (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Basic stewardship of the body will look different for everyone. Maybe it means a 3-day a week walk or having only 1 soda a day instead of 3. You may not love exercise and you despise vegetables. But it’s because you want to be obedient to God (and want to avoid unnecessary health problems!), you do what you do.
The middle level is DISCIPLINE, defined as,
Training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement.
We are a very undisciplined society. I mean, can you argue with me here? That’s why for some of us, it’s good to have something to keep us in line. Discipline comes in when we are looking at areas where we COULD do something but choose not to (1 Corinthians 10:23) . It’s at that moment when we can choose good, but instead we choose better. Areas of discipline often separate those who are just along for the ride with those who are in the driver’s seat. This hits many areas of life–our finances, our faith, our mind, and yes, our health. For me, my health is a very natural spot for me to stay disciplined and to practice this “skill” in my life. This means I may make some choices that some may disagree with me, but because it’s good for me and my life, I will do it. Example: I CAN have more calories of “x” in a day, but I choose not to because it’s not necessary. I CAN get away with exercising 3 days a week, but enjoy the discipline that striving for 5 gives me. I hope it is starting to make sense.
The final tier is the PLEASURE tier. As you can see, this is the smallest tier but, let me tell you, it’s a very important one! For some of you, health is much more than stewardship and discipline. It’s your lifeline. It’s what makes you move and breathe. It gets you jazzed up and ready to go full speed in life. Maybe it’s a gift God’s given you (1 Corinthians 12). Maybe it’s what keeps you creative and fully in-tune with your family each day. These people enjoy working out and find new ways to explore it. If we have a spare 30 to 60 minutes in a day…yes…we would be pumping some iron or out for a run. We are “those” weird people.Yes-we can see the pleasure and feel the pleasure of God in this area and are thanking Him through it (Colossians 3:17)!
Now, I need to let you into some ground rules to the triangle.
1.) God can move you up and down this triangle as He pleases. Don’t be surprised if this happens and be open to the Spirit’s leading.
2.) There is no good, better, or best here. Those at the pleasure tier are no better than those at the stewardship tier. We are all just different.
3.) There are to be no judgements of those who are above you or below you on this triangle. IT IS NOT OUR CALL to decide who gets to do with the gifts, resources, time, and talents that God has given each of us. Please –can we stop with the wars in this area?
4.) OWN YOUR SPOT. Don’t apologize for where God has you. Once you prayerfully figured it out, own it until God moves in you!
5.) Chances are, you will have to let go of some physical goals you have in mind. What do I mean? Well, you (probably) can’t live at a stewardship level, hoping to having the physique, strength, and endurance as one at the pleasure level. And those of you at the pleasure level, as others are going for their 2nd piece of cake, will have to back off because it won’t get you to your goals.
Picture taken by my fantastically talented friend, Christina of Grace Designs Photography
As usual, there is a personal story tied to each of my blog posts. I truly am just like you–living out my life-trying to figure it out one day at a time. God is gracious enough to give me a platform and a voice to share it, so I want to be obedient to Him when He calls.
To no surprise to you, I hit all 3 tiers! Health is stewardship for me. It’s a way to enact discipline, and yes, it’s also a very pleasurable thing for my life. If you heard me on my Women Living Well webcast, you know that health has been a seed planted in my heart since a small age. I have to let you in on something that God has been working on with me though.
I have struggled with my intense desire with it.
I’ve often questioned myself as to why I love it so much. Why I feel I need it so much in my life? Am I less of a Christian because I do enjoy pumping iron and sprinting? But what about this intense passion that He’s created deep within me? What about the feeling I get when I’m in my sweet spot?
Shamefully, I’ve backed down on what God has shown me because I’ve worried about what others thought about me. I’ve allowed what God has revealed to me in the quiet to be drown out by the voices clammering around me in the light. I’ve made apologies for why I’ve been like this. I’ve tried to push it down, but I’m here to tell you that I’m done with that. I KNOW beyond a doubt why God has wired me this way. I know what makes me tick. What makes me a better wife, mom, friend, and ministry leader. And because of that, I will protect that in everyway that I can.
Again, this doesn’t mean that I’m not open to God’s movement. Not at all. This doesn’t mean that I am on my game at all weeks in my life. Listen, there are a lot of moving parts to my day and I am constantly juggling priority with what is thrown to me in my lap. The difference is, I have a goal. I know what makes me tick and what makes me walk with God deeply, so I will do my best to keep at it.
So for you today, I want you to breathe a sigh of relief. If you have prayerfully considered this triangle and found to be at the stewardship area, then OWN it! If God is telling you to use health as a discipline in your life, then find out in what ways He’s trying to do that and then go for it! And finally, if God has graciously given you this gift as a place of ministry, creativity, and pleasure, then friends, be ok with that. NO APOLOGIES NEEDED.
Finally, EVERYONE has a pleasure activity. EVERYONE has something that reenergizes them and makes them feel that all is right with the world. I encourage you–I plead with you–FIND that thing! I was in Bible study a few weeks ago, and a gal was sharing how she was gardening and that’s the place where God just speaks to her and she is at full peace. Well, friends, she needs to make sure some gardening is happening in her life! Maybe for you it’s painting, writing, cooking, or serving someone–I want you to find that spot. If it brings you closer to the Father by clearing your brain and making you go back to HIM for HIS GOOD THINGS, then done in balance, it needs to be something you try and incorporate in your life! I love this song by “The Afters” and this verse. It sums up what I want to leave with you today.
(Click here if you can’t see the video)
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this long, long tangent! What do you have to add? Does this help provide in clarity or help you breath a sigh of relief in this area? What pre-conceived ideas do you need to let go of? What do you need to chase after? Oh, I’m praying for you all as you read this and would love to know what God is saying to you!!