Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.
We are entering a new season. I’ve prayed a lot about this and I feel that for this season, we should focus on what I like to call the “Training Season”.
One thing I want us to keep in mind during this season is that it will often overlap with other seasons. Why? Because the way I view life we are always in constant training. Every struggle, every hardship, even every victory is training for something greater.
I try to push myself constantly in every aspect. I strongly believe in the art of physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental training. Excellence is a constant state of mind, as Aristotle stated it is not an act, but a habit. If each season of our lives is approached as a sort of training then we are constantly learning, growing, and moving forward.
When You Have Access to the Gym, but You Don’t Use It.
Growing up I was never very athletic or into sports, every now and then I watch a few basketball games during the playoffs to make sure that Golden State wins because you know Steph Curry, but that’s about it…
About a year and a half ago I decided I was going to change this and join a gym. I spend about 8-10 hours sitting in an office and when depression rears it’s ugly head, I turn into a sloth. As I’ve mentioned before my mom suffered 5 strokes and last month my aunt suffered a stroke as well, so having a healthy heart is a big concern of mine.
Soon after I first ventured off into this fitness journey I realized it was a lot harder than I thought it was.
At first, I was paying the gym membership, meaning I had full access to a gym, but I never went. There were reasons for this of course.
Number one reason: Fear.
I was scared. I was scrawny. I didn’t know how to get started and what would people think? I am just going to embarrass myself.
I had this scenario in my head where I was huffing and puffing with a set of baby weights and someone recording me with a caption that said, “Bro, do you even lift?”
Growing up I always felt like a nerd, and for any fellow nerds out there, YOU KNOW embarrassment is that one thing we avoid at all cost.
Also, I am a bit clumsy. It’s the truth. I am not even exaggerating. So, worst case scenario I was going to drop a heavy weight on my foot, or worse, someone else’s foot!
Confidence versus Fear
Now, I am a little gym junkie. I go at least 4 times a week and take what are called active rest days in between, which basically means you are still moving (yoga, light jogging, etc.).
Now, you might be wondering, “How did you overcome your fear of the gym?”
The secret is… CONFIDENCE.
Did you know that one of the biggest opponents against fear is confidence? I slowly began to realize that as I went to the gym and learned about how to use the machines, keep proper form, etc. I also started to lose my fear.
That’s what happens when you get the hang of things. You gain more confidence.
As I sat there one day trying to catch my breath after an intense workout session I realized something… we sometimes treat God the same way we treat our gym membership.
Let me explain…
We have full access to God the Father? I mean seriously, this is what the word of God says,
“16 Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment].” Hebrew 4:16 (AMP)
We don’t have to be fearful about approaching God. I sometimes think that we feel as if we have to have it all together to approach Him, like we have to be perfect to approach Him. Or maybe we just don’t know how to approach him. See, because of my experiences with my earthly father, I honestly did not know that I could just approach God.
But, that isn’t the type of relationship God wants to have with his children. As a matter of fact, he loved us so much that he sent his one and only son to pay the price for our “membership” into the heavenly family.
“You were bought with a price [you were actually purchased with the precious blood of Jesus and made His own]. So then, honor and glorify God with your body” 1 Corinthians 6:20 (AMP)
So why even go to the gym? Or why approach God? The answer to both is pretty simple. To get Stronger.
So I am well pleased with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, and with difficulties, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak [in human strength], then I am strong [truly able, truly powerful, truly drawing from God’s strength]. 2 Corinthians 12:10.
In my weakest moments, when I was just about to throw in the towel, battling thoughts of death. Not suicide, per se, but the thought that perhaps dying was just easier than living…. in those moments I would pray to God and I would feel HIS strength cover me.
I want to encourage you today. Right now at this very moment. I don’t care what season you are going through. You don’t have to do this alone. You have full access to your heavenly Father, the price has been paid for your full access membership. You can approach him whenever you want. You don’t have to have it together, you don’t have to know what you are doing, you just have to walk right up to him and tell him that you need him.
To become the best version of myself, I know I am going to have to train. And to train I am going to need strength. I will have to face challenges, I will have to practice the art of creating better habits. Better habits for my health, better habits for my relationships, better habits for my spirit.
We all get to the point where we need something outside of ourselves for strength. For example, at first you can try working out at home, but at some point you will need heavier weights to see gains. So either you buy heavier weights or you join a gym. Similarly, there are situations in life where we are strong enough to face alone, but then there will be some situations that just push us almost to our breaking point and we will need to ask God for strength.
For me, true strength comes when I lay my weakness at the cross. The first habit I want us to establish as we train towards excellence is to take advantage of our full access membership to approach our Father.
This Weeks Prayer
Father, thank you for allowing me to be part of your family. Thank you because I know that I don’t have to go through life alone. Sometimes, I feel this overwhelming fear to talk to you, because I’ve made many mistakes, but I know that you still love and accept me. I pray that you give me the strength to endure this season. I pray that I may learn life lessons that will make me wiser and stronger. Sometimes, I don’t know what to do, but I know that you are guiding me. Amen.
This Weeks Blooming Heart Journal Questions
- “We are what we repeatedly do.” – If you had to define yourself based on your habits, who would you be?
- How would approaching your current season as a training change your perspective?
- What lessons do you think you are learning through this season?
This Weeks “Blooming Heart” Challenge
This week I challenge you to establish one habit that you think will be good for you. If you don’t know what you need to improve it’s OK, you can ask God to lead you to the answer. It can be in any area (physical, emotional, spiritual). For example, you may want to pray at least 10 minutes a day (spiritual), or start a gratitude journal instead of complaining (emotional/spiritual), or you may want to start a workout routine (physical). I know you got this! Feel free to share what you are learning as you practice this new habit!