It is no secret to my friends and family that I absolutely love to go to the gym. From the moment I walk into my local gym, I already feel empowered. From lifting weights to beating my personal bests to struggling to finish that last 5 minutes at the same pace you started 10kms ago, there isn’t one aspect of the gym I don’t like. Except maybe the fact that some people do not wear deodorant (yuck!). The sweat pouring down my face is also kind of gross but it’s a visual reminder of how hard I am working. Why do I work this hard? Because I see my muscles growing, my stomach getting flatter and my confidence growing. This is why I keep going back for more, it’s like a drug I’m addicted to. I know that the more I train my muscles, the stronger I will be and that desire to be stronger, faster and fitter drives me to keep going. If you go to the gym or train for a sport or even have exercised once, you’ll know what I am talking about.
While training your body is so good for you and it does assist in a healthy mind, why don’t we have the same approach to our mind? Often we focus on the physical and leave out our mental health. I think it is because people can see our physical body and no one can see our mind. Only we know what is in our minds, those private thoughts that go through our brain that sometimes we are scared to share because society has a way of judging us. This fear of society judging us, can give us anxiety to say how we really feel and sometimes it’s easier just to conform. No argument, no feeling like you’re alone in your opinions, no judgement. Giving in means that we are suppressing who we are and this can often bring sadness, anxiety, fear and maybe anger towards yourself or society . Everyone has a desire to belong and sometimes when we have different opinions and views we feel like an outsider.
I have definitely felt like this before. I was scared to say how I felt in different circumstances because I was scared to look like I didn’t belong. I have dark skin being Sri Lankan and the majority of people in Australia had fair skin. So I already felt that I looked like I didn’t belong and I didn’t want my difference of opinion to put the nail in the coffin. I didn’t feel like I belonged and I conformed to society because I wanted to look like I was a part of the community. In my heart however, I knew this wasn’t me and I would beat myself about for not being strong enough to go against the tide. This fear gripped me for a couple of years until one day my mother spoke to me. She told me that the reason I didn’t fit in is because I don’t fit in! My opinions and looks are something that is unique to me and there isn’t anyone in the world that is like me. She said, I need to find people that accept me for who I am. She also gave me this scripture about being fearful.
2 Timothy 1:7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and a sound mind.
I took this advice to heart about a year later, sorry mum! This scripture told me that with God, I shouldn’t be fearful, I have power and that I shouldn’t doubt my opinions because I am in a good state of mind to make good judgements. I felt empowered after hearing that scripture and I began to look for more scriptures that will train my mind to be strong and fearless.
I believe that just like your muscles, there is a way to train to your mind to be strong. It is by standing close to god and reading who you are in him. Hold on to his words and run with them. The next time you feel fear to express who you are to the world remember who you are in him.
I love my church’s (Riverview Church) tag line ‘you belong here’. It’s a place I feel like our differences and uniqueness is celebrated. The pastors and people there are like personal trainers for your mind, offering you encouragement and love. I suggest finding a church or place that does the same for you.
Train your mind to look to god when you feel like you’re inadequate. It will be hard in the beginning just like when you first start at the gym, but when you get into the habit, you will feel your mind getting stronger.
I hope this post empowers you today.