You may not have building muscles on your “to do” list, but perhaps you should even if body building is not your goal. God created muscles so we could move. They also stabilize our joints in the process and help us maintain our posture. Using them throughout our lifetime will keep us healthier and allow us to do more of what we enjoy or need to do.
A number of years ago I worked with a personal trainer. I wasn’t “old,” but I was older and as she started to help me improve flexibility and strength the first thing that began to change was an improvement in my posture. A part of that came from working with weights. We started small (Think one or two pound weights.) and developed healthier muscles little by little.
What do you need to build healthy muscles?
First, it takes energy and that energy comes from the good calories that are consumed. Those good calories come from macronutrients like protein and healthy carbohydrates.
Second, while you are working those muscles to build them up and eating good calories, you need to eat more frequently. Skipping breakfast and living on quick snacks or junk food won’t work. The truth is that eating the right things at the right time is important for every aspect of your physical health.
Third on the list of things to remember when building healthy muscles is to remember not to repeat the same routine all the time. Thanks to that great thing called “muscle memory” that allows us to adapt and perform repeatedly for periods of time without damage, we might not add to our strength if we do the same routine all the time.
A fourth thing to remember is how important sleep and rest is so that our bodies can recover from the stress of nudging them to develop and grow stronger.
Two final keys to take into account: 1) You get what you put into it; and 2) It’s never too late.
You may be wondering why I am looking at building muscles since I am NOT a physical trainer and have even sloughed off since retiring and leaving the physical trainer behind.
If you read what I write very often, you have discovered that I love to share, tell, or create a good story and that I love analogies as well.
One of the areas in our spiritual muscles where we are sometimes weak is forgiveness. We wrestle with it from time to time and to a certain degree. We know we are to do it and may have read more than a few books and posts on the subject as well as what the Bible teaches. None of those necessarily make it easier.
As I was reading in a devotional by C.S. Lewis, I found an excellent strategy he suggests from his classic work, Mere Christianity. The title of the page reads, “Start Small.” He goes on with this perfect example that fits with what I wrote about building muscles:
“When you start mathematics you do not begin with the calculus; you begin with simple addition. In the same way, if we really want (but that all depends on really wanting) to learn how to forgive, perhaps we had better start with something easier than the Gestapo.”
Most of us are abundantly aware of the big things we need to forgive. We may have tried to do that forgiving more than a few times without much success. There is pain involved and we might very well be convinced the one we need to forgive doesn’t deserve it (even though we know we don’t deserve Christ’s forgiveness either).
Is it possible some of the same principles and steps we use to develop strengthening of our physical muscles can apply with this area that we need to strengthen?
I believe so.
Make no mistake that forgiving is going to take emotional and spiritual energy because it often does not come as easily as we might wish. To put in those “calories” and “nutrients” we need to gain that energy, we are going to need more than a few doses of truth and wisdom. Spending time in God’s Word, the Bible, is the source, but if we only are focusing on the passages dealing with forgiveness we may not get the full picture of who God is or what grace, love, and mercy looks like from his truth.
We aren’t going to get the energy we need by grabbing a quick devotional and skipping regular times of feeding on God’s Word. We can be quite dense and it takes time to allow the Holy Spirit to knead into our heart, mind, and spirit the truth we need to develop spiritual muscle.
Sometimes our time with the Lord can start to look and feel rote and we lose our enthusiasm. Let go of rigidity and try a new translation, change the program you are using, and don’t rely on scriptural roulette (just opening the Word to any place at all) as the consistent regimen.
One key is to not work so hard at forgiving. We need to rest in the Lord and allow Him to massage our hearts and grant us the grace to do it as He would. That doesn’t mean we leave it all on his shoulders, but it does mean we recognize this is going to mean a joint effort. How much you are willing to put into it is what you will get out of it.
And don’t forget that it’s never to late to start or start over.
Let those words of C.S. Lewis serve as wisdom. Start small with the little things, the current and recent things, and little by little make it a habit. That will make it less difficult to start tackling those big areas where forgiveness has not been accomplished.
C.S. Lewis offers one other piece of counsel from Mere Christianity that will be invaluable:
“…we might try to understand exactly what loving your neighbor as yourself means. I have to love him as I love myself.”