WHEN IT’S ALL SAID AND DONE, PERSONALLY. I THINK THIS IS THE MUSCLE THAT NEEDS THE MOST STRENGTHENING AND EXERCISE – THE SUSTENANCE OF OUR BEING – THE HEART. The muscle of our emotion, our spiritualty, our faith. Below are some practical ways that have helped strengthen mine.
Miranda and I have been talking much about physical exercise regarding the body’s core (namely abdominal) muscles. We’ve also spoken about what we need to feed our bodies in order to sustain and aid to strengthen the physical core. We know that the core is actually the most important part of the body, holding everything together centrally, yet it is probably the most unseen part of the body.
“To develop core strength, we need to work on muscles that are not easily seen by others.” – Lawrence Khong.
I think in growing we all realize that no matter how great our outward appearances and firm our outward or even physical muscles are – The core of it all is this – some of the greatest tests of our endurance, strength and who we are stem from the one deeply hidden muscle that also requires fitness- THE HEART.
I love the fact that the heart can be thought of in two different but very fitting ways. It is a physical muscle- one of the most important organs of the body that persistently works to keep the body alive by pumping blood to the rest of the entire body. It can also be thought of as a metaphorical muscle- the sustenance of our very being, our human nature, our emotions, our spirit, our faith. This is the basis of this blog post.
I think that in a world where we are so careful to guard what we wear, how we look, what we eat, what our outward appearance is, we need not forget that most importantly, we are exhorted “above all else to guard our hearts, for everything we do flows from it.” (Adapted, from Proverbs 4: 23) And so I believe in the same way that we exercise our bodies to become stronger, more defined, more endurant, feed it the right foods, we need to be mindful what we need to feed our spiritual muscle, train it so that it can be fit and ready as life brings its own resistance bands.
I want to share some of the ways in which my very own heart still gets trained and has been trained over the years. Some have been intentional, some not so much- but either way, my heart is
1)Feed your heart what fuels it
Much like the muscles of the body, our spirits, and our faith is only strengthened by things that it resonates with, that nourish it. We need to feed our faith daily or at least frequently through prayer, reading the word, choosing to blot out negative thoughts and content and replacing these with positivity, truth, constructive words, encouragement. We need to surround ourselves with like-minded people, go to places that fuel our faith, set our hearts on fire and ignite our spirits. Feed feed feed!
2) Embrace the difficult times
I used to dread difficult situations or trying times. Until I realized that this is one of the best catalysts to growth, often in character and strength. It is in the most trying times and difficulties that the intentions of my heart and my faith is really tested and became stronger. And it’s after I realise the lesson of the difficulties that I appreciate and value the fact that our Father indeed disciplines those He loves. And so when in the valleys of life, I intentionally “consider it pure joy”, knowing that I don’t stay in the valley forever, but I come out onto the summit with a stronger, more refined, more resilient heart, ready to take on the next valley!
3) When you are weary, REST
I still really struggle with this one. And the worst part is that it’s not even external pressure, it’s my very own internal pressure that I often put on myself. It’s said that sometimes the best thing you can do to peak the performance of a muscle is to give it rest- this is called this recovery. Very recently, in fact, I myself was feeling very weary from doing something that I think is good, at least in the eyes of the Creator. So yes, our hearts DO get weary, even when we are doing good.
Rest for our hearts may not necessarily mean the absence of any action, but rather surrender, and resting in the knowledge truth that “His yolk is lighter”, that “in due time we will reap a harvest”, that “when the time is right the Lord will make things happen for us”, that we don’t have to be using our OWN efforts to make things happen and that in the recovery period of acknowledging our weariness, our hearts are in fact being strengthened to perform better after.
4) Put your heart to the challenge
When we’ve been training our bodies, we need to be put to the test. We do this through competitions or even marathons and races. In the same way, our faith and muscle of our spirituality need to be tested. Go out there, try being vulnerable, try being kind, forgiving, do something brave, courageous, radical. All of this by Grace and with the right motives of course. But put your faith into action- this is the only way you’ll tell how strong you are, how much more training and discipline your heart needs, what your weaknesses are. And this I can promise you- Grace will meet you where the strength of your heart falls short.
5) Create and become a support system through fellowship
Life was never meant to be done alone. We are called into a family. Just like the importance of a support system, be it a personal trainer, a gym partner, or someone that you aspire to become like when working out, the same is true for our spiritual fitness. The fellowship is so important! I cannot harp on this one enough. Find like-minded people, create a community, share thoughts ideas, wisdom, build and encourage one another. Our hearts and faith grow, get challenged, are humbled and are inspired and ignited in this way.
There you have it- your equipment to working out that heart muscle! And the equipment is absolutely FREE! All you need to do, is START DOING!
Let’s keep working on those heart muscles of faith as much as we do everything else!
Please share some thoughts, comments and anything else! Would love to hear from you. I hope this has touched or moved a heart.
I love you