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Strength --

I can say this, because I myself used to say these same things years ago. Workouts, consistency, sticking to a "plan", never missing a day, etc. --- you get the point.

Yes, those things are good and show commitment, but I no longer agree that because you do that, that you are now "stronger in the rest of life"..... or that because you are consistently exercising, that it will transfer into strength in "every area of life."

(Let me clarify - exercise and movement are known to help you better deal with stress, give you endorphins, and help you feel good inside, but remember: you can workout like a beast, but still need work on the "strength" in real life situations, issues, struggles).

- I know for me, I have done a hard workout, and then walked in and kept ignoring my husband because I was bitter. That ain't strength. Sometimes strength means skipping your daily workout that day to sit and talk out issues with your spouse.

- I have committed to workouts for 5 days in a row, but maybe haven't read my Bible those 5 days in a row. That ain't strength. That shouldn't be my first priority.

- I have exercised my body, but apparently forgot how to exercise patience with my kids. That ain't strength. Maybe "strength" that day wasn't from lifting weights,

but from pushing the weights aside and running around the neighborhood with my kids.

- I have stopped mid-workout to complain or grumble, and then kept on exercising. That ain't strength. It's supposed to give me endorphins, making me more positive, right??

I also know that just because your "daily workouts" are on point, doesn't mean you can have the strength to handle the real things of life. Life throws us some hard things, and we need more than strong bodies to handle a lot of it!

No workout will fix a bitter marriage.

No exercise plan will heal a miscarriage.

No consistency will heal a broken friendship.

No "no days off" plan will give you the strength to be a mom day in and day out with no break, sick kids, crying babies, middle of the night wakeups, housework, and much more. No daily workout commitment means anything if you aren't daily committed to the real, actual life-changing things around you, outside of the gym.

Here's the thing - strength in the gym, and strength in real life, are very different.

Anyone, with ANY issues in life, can walk into a gym or garage and throw around weights. They can commit to a daily plan and never miss. They can be strong on the outside. But, from experience, the strength you get from lifting weights, it just ain't the same as the strength you get from Jesus when everything else in life feels hard. The strength you gain from getting your priorities and goals in line with a balanced, joyful life - now that can definitely transfer into our daily lives, into every aspect, into the long-lasting areas of life.

We sometimes look for a quick fix in exercise, when sometimes God wants us to take action in another way, or maybe to just rest and lean into the quiet stillness. I know, for me, it is much easier to just walk into my garage alone and do a hard workout, but it is much harder to go work for the things I want CHANGED in my life - my attitude, my marriage, my parenting, etc. Sometimes my exercise can take me away from handling and fighting for things that are of more importance. And I don't want to be STRONG in my garage, and WEAK when troubles come my way, when my patience is tested, when I'm tempted to be bitter or respond in the wrong way. When people look at me and know me, I don't want to be known as a "strong girl who works out", but as a "strong girl who shows that strength from the inside out, loving others well (and hey, she also exercises. Cool!)".

I don't want to run from things that are hard, because I know those things will make me stronger. I don't want to trick myself into thinking that just because I am committed to working out daily, that I am now immediately "strong". Take away my weights and my garage, give me some crazy hard life issues, and let's see how I handle it, right?? I guarantee my biceps ain't gonna help me haha !

I loved this quote I came across:

"The recognition that 'bodily training is of some value' cuts both ways. Those who are voluntarily sedentary need to hear that God does indeed value the exertion of our bodies (and designed them to work best, and happiest, when moving), and those who are prone to make exercise an idol need to hear it is only of some value, relativized by the pursuit of godliness which 'is of value in every way' (1 Timothy 4:8)."

1 Timothy 4:8 - While bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. Our bodies were made to work and exert effort, but I have to remind myself it is more than just physical exercise. God wants to be honored through the ways we use our body and minds, and He has blessed us with resources to do that.

But let us go about it in the right way, remembering that there is more than just physical strength.

"Physical appearance ISN’T everything. Physical fitness requires balance. Yes, being physically active is good for you. Yes, physical fitness is one way you can show God you are taking care of the body that He’s given you. But exercising or dieting to the extreme so that you can obtain the label of “hot model” or “ab ripping hotty” is not what it means to accomplish a healthy lifestyle. So keep your health goals realistic and soon God will be glorified with your body.

1 Samuel 16:7 - "Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature…for the Lord does not see as man sees; man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart”.

1 Corinthians 9:24-26 - "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified." Remember to work hard in ALL areas. Be strong inside and out. Be ready for the battle of our daily lives, because those take more than just muscles and sweat.

Set realistic goals, and figure out your motivation and priorities. I have been extreme in both ways, and I can say that a more balanced way of living is the most enjoyable! Strength - Inside and Out!


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