Why Do We Condemn Success?

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So, I have a problem with something. Why is it that when people try to better their lives, and then encourage others to do the same and reap the same rewards, they get accused for doing something wrong?

Someone told me about the “No Excuses Mom” (Maria Kang) recently and how there was some big to-do about her. I didn’t get it. Then I read about her,  and I really didn’t get it. When I read about her busy life and ability to maintain an awesome body with HARD WORK, I was inspired. I thought, “Dang, if I’m ever a mom I want to be like her. Actually, I want to be like her now.

“Get It”

To use a phrase my boyfriend and I use excessively both in and outside of the gym, she has a get it mindset. Meaning, she has a goal and goes after it. No excuses. Just hard work and a tough mindset, especially in the face of opposition. No Excuse Mom

She has other moms thinking she’s putting them down and trying to make them feel bad. I see a woman who worked her butt off – literally – to get to a place she was happy with, and wants to let others know it’s possible. She’s trying to help, and she’s being demonized. Yet she’s the kind of woman I can look up to. She’s gettin’ it, and she makes me want to even more.

Shortly after I heard about her, a guy we’d met on the street during Broken Hearts Ministry gave his life to Jesus. Then he started gettin’ it, in his own way. In a way that said Jesus is Lord, and I’m going to pursue him, change my life, and tell others about how drastically Jesus changed and saved me. What he told me was that those friends don’t appreciate his trying to help, and basically want to drag him back down to where he was. He’s trying to help, all they see is condemnation or a crazy person.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

What’s wrong with us? Why is it that when we should be inspired to greatness, we get bitter and tear each other down instead? Could it be our own weakness and insecurity? That when we see a high standard or different way of living being set, rather than face our own lack of greatness and perseverance, we attack and bring down those who are doing what we only wish we could?

I’m reading Heaven Invades Earth, and Bill Johnson says it brilliantly:

“Those who strive for balance become anemic. The word balance has come to mean middle of the road – of no threat to people or the devil, with little risk, and above all…the best way to keep our nice image intact…while we huddle in groups of like-minded people, those with faith blaze a trail that threatens all of our comfort zones. Faith offends the stationary. People of great faith are hard to live with. Their reasoning is otherwordly…We either become like them or avoid them. We find their lifestyle either contagious or offensive…there’s something amazing about unbelief – it is able to fulfill its own expectations. Unbelief is safe because it takes no risk and almost always gets what it expects.”

If we expect average, we get average. If we assume all moms should be out of shape and tired, we’ll aspire no higher.  We partner in our anemic mindsets, so when a Maria Kang comes along, we’re offended when we should be inspired. Or when a Bill Johnson comes along, we call him a heretic instead of being encouraged to pursue a supernatural lifestyle.

No Excuses.

Entrepreneur, Chris Brogan, titled his last book, “The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth”. The description  says, “Do you ever wonder where you fit in? Do you sometimes get that feeling that you have something much bigger to offer the universe, but then it fills you with fear and anxiety, so you think maybe I’ll just pay it safe?”

Jesus did not fit in. Maria Kang does not fit in. My friend Robert does not fit in. Yet these are the “freaks” that are shaking us from the doldrums and saying, “Hey, there’s a better way to live, and it’s possible!” These are the freaks that shall inherit the earth, refusing to play it safe.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of average and safe. I’m ready for those people who challenge me to a higher standard, so I can live a life worth living. Stop seeing a threat and see an inspiration. There’s so much more waiting for us, we have only to reach out and grab a hold. Get it!

 

 

No More Settling – Physical and Spiritual Transformation

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The other day I wrote about seemingly small, weak flowers breaking through concrete. I said I was tired of “realistic” hopes based on what my world says is normal and achievable. I was settling for average in many areas of my life, but my mind was primarily on my spiritual life.

I ended with this thought: “Let’s ask God today for a life-changing kind of faith that defies expectations. Look in his eyes, take his hand, and say, “Let’s do this!”

Right after that, I headed to the gym, as is normal routine in the morning. I ran to worship music until I had four minutes left and thought I was gonna die. I never work out to worship music. I workout to pop and rap and anything with a hard, fast beat. But the physical and spiritual are tightly interwoven and God has been speaking to me a lot about my attitude in life through my attitude at the gym.

I was metaphorically chasing after God and giving all I had that morning as I listened to upbeat worship music that draws me into adoration of Jesus every time I hear it. I can’t even remember how many times I reduced the pace I was running, only to remind myself I’d just told Jesus “Let’s do this!” that morning. Then I’d set it back to the faster pace that pushed me out of my comfort zone. If I’m gonna do it spiritually, I want to mirror it physically.

When I almost got off the machine in my last 2 minutes because I was so tired, I remembered how I often I pursue God and believe in miracles, only to wither and give up at the very end because I’m tired of hoping. So I kept going until those blasted 2 minutes were done.

There is power in physical discipline that makes us stronger spiritually. I challenge you to “Get It!” (as my boyfriend and I always say about working out) from healthy eating to challenging workouts to your spiritual life. “Get it” in the way you pursue the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.

When I see a picture of a strong, healthy fitness model, it gives me an idea of what’s possible and challenges me to achieve my best. Spiritually I look for models as well, people operating in the power of God in a way I want, who show me what’s possible.

As I’ve grown stronger at the gym in the past few months, pushing my standard, it’s mirrored my spiritual life. So….where are we settling for less? Let’s set a new goal, and then believe we can get there. Let’s Get It.

Below is my personal inspiration for the day to share with you from the blog of a Christian Fitness Competitor, Kim Dolan Leto:

“People often ask how I have been able to reach my goal. The answer is God. I believe strongly in spiritual fitness. I train my body and I eat very clean but in order to reach my goals, I have had to train my mind. If you don’t believe you can reach your goal, you can’t. You deserve to be healthy and live in the body you dream of having. I have spent a lot of time in God’s word strengthening my mind. This has never been a pursuit of vanity for me but one of a healthy mind, body, and spirit.”

Moving from New Year’s Goals to Tomorrow’s Success

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I read a lot of fitness magazines, and see images of athletic women with crazy amazing bodies. These women are slim, muscular and in great health because of the what they consume, supplements they take, and dedication they put into weights and endurance. I can see the results of their hard work, hear their stories of dedication and clean eating, and it inspires me.

I watched a documentary on Lolo (the olympic runner) the other day, and had the same reaction: “That’s badass. I want to be like that.” With the Olympics coming up, I would bet many of us will be having those same reactions to the physical feats we watch in awe.

If all we do is feel inspired, however, but never make an effort to emulate the traits we admire to reach the goals we dream of, it’s of little benefit. When I’m working out, if I watch TV or listen to slower tempo music, I get exercise, but don’t reap as many rewards as possible. I’ve noticed that when I workout, if I listen to music with fast tempos and motivational beats, the kind that just make you want to move, or strikes an emotional chord, I workout harder. I run faster. I push longer. Beast Mode.

It turns something on in me in an unexplainable way. When  this happens, I realize as helpful as it is to watch Access  Hollywood to pass the time, I workout about twice as hard   when I just keep the most inspiring music in my ears. When Lolo came to mind as I ran on the treadmill the other day, causing me to pick up my pace, it struck me that these types of motivations and goals work similarly in my spiritual life.

I’m in a major season of transition, and it is not easy. I feel  God calling me to leave things behind that I never expected to, in order to pursue even more. It’s as painful as running sprints or squatting with a heavily loaded barbell. Well, much more painful, actually. Like the future image of a body and health I’d like to achieve, but can only dream about because I haven’t arrived, I’m headed to a destination that I’m not even sure what it holds. I just have faith that it too will look and feel good.

But this ideal place I’m headed does not come easy. A hunger to go deeper with God doesn’t just create an amazing Spirit-filled life. Moving into “destiny”, as cliche as that is, doesn’t come without opposition and critics. Change and new identity doesn’t happen without sacrifice.

To keep moving forward, we have to fuel our faith. We have to feed that hunger for God. An Olympic sprinter like Lolo, or a bodybuilder like Arnold, probably doesn’t jog 2 laps for a workout, lift light weight, eat junk food, or hang out with the Monday night football crowd or pie-eating contest winners. They probably hang out with other athletes, listen to motivational videos, watch their idols win competitions, keep only whole foods in their fridge, and push their limits in every workout. They didn’t just arrive at champion status.

We can’t either. When I listen to certain sermons, worship, and spend time with certain people, it fuels my spiritual fire. It pushes me to keep striving for that goal that seems unattainable – almost mystical – and leave the old behind. When I set my eyes and heart elsewhere, focus on the past, or spend time with people who discourage more than encourage, it throws everything off balance. It’s like watching TV at the gym, and then going to eat a burger, indulging in what seems good, but leaves you lacking.

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Disaster pursues sinners, but the righteous are rewarded with good” (Proverbs 13:20 20.) I used to think of the wise as people who know God and fools as the partyers or some crazy immature crowd of people. I’m learning that even Christians can operate only in worldly wisdom and not truly spur each other on it faith. Or simply, in certain seasons, some people are better to surround ourselves with.

It’s not necessarily as black and white as I thought. I’ve had to shift priorities and let go of certain atmospheres or crowds that are not bad at all, but are just not what I need in this season to truly push me forward. It has been as challenging as switching from soda to water for the good of one’s best health. Not easy, rarely as tasty until you’re used to it, but ultimately for the best.

I always thought it was ridiculous that some parents would only let their kids listen to Christian music or watch only Touched by an Angel, or Veggie Tales. Actually, I still think that’s ridiculous, but I get the idea. What we let into our mind and lives shapes us, probably far more than we consciously realize. The movies I watch, music I listen to, and places I spend my time in this season can completely shift my mindset or throw me off balance.

Like the soda and water example, a soda won’t ruin your workout goals once in a while. But drinking it every day will completely derail the desired outcome. It’s usually the subtle things like that we think are innocent that are what’s actually preventing us from our best.

It’s  a new year. A new season. What are your goals? Establish them. Know the purpose and motivation for getting there. Ask God to help you push through the “hard workouts” and to discern what will be the tipping points from average to amazing. Then stand firm, and watch as the hard work pays off and paves the way to success and joy!