Faith, Hope & a Whole Lotta Love

I often ask myself what is the purpose of our lives and I conclude that life’s purpose is to be happy. We have no guarantee what will happen in the future, but we live in hope. That’s what keeps us going. Dalai Lama

Nothing hypes me up more than a compliment or two… from my siblings. Hang on, a couple of weeks ago I was in gym leggings and a top and my niece said I looked cute, so maybe it’s compliments from my siblings AND one very cute 3-year-old niece. If you’re lucky enough to have siblings and a niece or two, they should be your ‘hype guys.’ My sister Nadege or Ya Dena as we affectionately called her, always believed that I was stronger than I thought. She was our hype guy!

Her death was sudden.

No long drawn out illness that we knew of or had time to prepare for, it’s not to say that knowing in advance prepares your heart any better for a loved one’s death. The first few weeks after her death are still a blur. There is a void in my brain rendering me incapable of recalling how I survived those first few days; how I’ve survived these past few months. My heart still hurts, excruciatingly so and sometimes it feels as though I have to stop myself from thinking about her in order to not breakdown. It is a wound that seven months on, still feels fresh, one that hasn’t dulled in terms of the feelings of pain and discomfort that it elicits. I’ve heard from well-meaning people that it gets better in time… I’m still waiting on that.

We’re at the halfway mark of 2018, the warmth of summer has firmly been replaced by winter’s chill. Today I’ve given myself room to pause, ponder and reflect on all that 2018 has so far been and the lessons that I’ve learnt, i.e. how Jesus is holding me up.

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  1. You’ve gotta have faith, hope and a whole lotta love in your heart.

I stepped into 2018 semi-optimistic. Considering the fact that I ended the year, and started the year funemployed, the only expectation I had of this year was that I’d at least end it with a job. My hopes were not high, I was ready to take whatever came my way and not really fight for anything better. My sister would have told me off for that. In fact in the Bible, Paul writes to us and tells us that we should be prisoners of hope* and in the book of Romans speaks on how hope does not put us to shame.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the  Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-2 (ESV)

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I don’t believe that when Paul wrote ‘we rejoice in our sufferings,’ he meant that we get the tambourine out, beat the drums and express how delighted we are that we have this hard thing happening to us because ‘hallelujah Jesus, it’s going to produce endurance in us.’ That would be silly, and I don’t know about you but if silly were to denote a person whose word is to be taken as a joke, I highly doubt that Paul is in that league. This rejoicing I believe denotes a quiet spirit, perhaps one that has been or is being broken by the trials of life whether physical or spiritual, yet holding on to the truth and hope that things will get better. It is this kind of hope that fuels us and directs us into moving in the direction where great things can happen to us. It is this hope that brings opportunity to each new day that we face. Hope that today may not have been great but tomorrow will be. Apparently if you repeat that to yourself enough times, your brain begins to believe it as more than just a motto but accepts it as a fact of life. The more we look for good things, the more we find them. Of course there’s still work that needs to be done, the life you want isn’t earned by just hoping for the best. In garnering a positive outlook, you possess the drive needed to fuel your efforts that will get you to where you want to be. This is the attitude I adopted when I PROPERLY started looking for a job. Lo and behold 2 months into the year, I was employed 🙂 Having a positive attitude doesn’t make things easier but it does give you a better outlook on life and your current circumstance. It puts you in the right frame of mind to analyse how best to navigate the season that you’re in.

  1. If you believe in God, expect for your belief in Him to be shaken AND stirred!

I remember loudly (and proudly…pride comes before a fall no?) exclaiming to a friend that I didn’t feel any further from God since my sister passing, that was a month after she had passed and now that I look back on it, I realize that I had spoken in haste. I hadn’t yet felt the sting of what death can do not just to your relationship with others, but also to your relationship with God. The days leading up to my sister’s funeral were difficult, but being inundated with messages, as overwhelming as it felt, provided a distraction and gave me a break (albeit temporarily) from having to deal with my emotions. I comforted myself with songs and verses that stated God would never leave me nor forsake me. I lived on the memories of when Christ had been a tangible comfort in the midst of past trials and tribulations. I kept telling myself that it would get better. I wish I could pinpoint the day when I stopped believing that. Apathy starts off this way, a slow and gradual freezing of the heart. You tell yourself that you’re temporarily isolating yourself from the situation in order to preserve and protect yourself. Until that one day turns into a week, a week into a month et cetera. All the while, your heart growing colder by the minute. The interesting thing is that while we think closing ourselves off from feeling and emotion, protects us. What it serves to do is isolate us and further draw us away from God. I could no longer see things getting better and the more I saw how certain individuals behaved in disappointing ways following her death, the less I wanted to let anyone in. Choosing to ignore reality and the pain that was in every moment of it, led to me ignoring God and isolating myself from Him. I could feel the anger rising, disappointment creeping in, making itself comfortable in my heart.

I was disillusioned.

Had I believed a lie that God exists?

That Jesus exists and furthermore, that He cared?

It wasn’t until my boyfie sent me a book entitled 10% happier that I was able to identify the root cause of my moment of disbelief in God. The title alone had me questioning whether I’d ever again know what it meant to be happy, let alone 10% happier. As I analysed the causative factors of my unhappiness, I realised that I had begun to view people as accurate, wholly true representations of God. So when I had a number of friends withdraw when the dust had seemingly settled, I saw it as God withdrawing and no longer caring. When I saw someone behave in a way that filled me with disappointment, I viewed God as disappointing. Forsaken, disappointed and alone, I no longer felt like I needed God, especially if God was like these people that had let me down. There exists no perfect human model for the loving nature of God that I have in the past vividly experienced. As hard as it may be, a healthy relationship with Christ is only cultivated through focusing on Him and Him alone. He doesn’t need a plus one!

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  1. Better is not always better…at least not in the way you think.

Better isn’t better until it stops hurting, that’s what we’re taught to think. Better isn’t better until you’ve managed to run back in time (‘Flash’ fan here), and have managed to save your loved one. Right? Wrong. What we have to understand, what I’m learning to understand is that sometimes things getting better isn’t reflective of the physical, but the internal. How is your heart being moulded? How is your character being formed during this very crappy season? In the past few months as I noticed my heart growing cold, my faith in humanity feeling shattered, and my hope in God, seemingly nowhere to be found. I realise now that there is a different definition of what it means for things to get better, one that has greater defining power on my character than the definition that I know. This ‘better’ requires constant evaluation and introspection of your character, your actions, and your choices. This is echoed in the verse where Christ tells us to remove the speck in our eyes before we talk about the log in our brother’s eye. Environment does have a huge bearing on our emotions but the thing that is more important than our physical environment is the internal environment that we cultivate.

So here we are at the end of this post and if someone were to ask me if I’m hopeful of the future. My answer is a resounding yes, while the days aren’t always easy. The journey is often hard and feels littered with pain, I’m certain that Jesus is holding me up. How well you ask: like I’m in the palm of His hand. Securely.

Grief. It comes in shades of black

It’s been 16 days since my sister passed away. We’ve received flowers, messages from people we hadn’t spoken to in years, all relaying their condolences. Each person saying how sorry they are and that if we need anything, they’re there. I’ve been mulling over that phrase for a while now. What exactly is there that people can offer at this stage?

It’s a season of pain. A season of unanswered questions. A season of shock, none of us saw this coming. It’s a season of wondering how to go on with life without someone that was a permanent fixture in your life. The common thing I’ve heard is that it gets easier after the funeral, and also that eventually in time this hollow feeling, becomes bearable. Well I’m waiting for those days. I’m waiting to wake up from this dream. I’m waiting to receive a reply from the WhatsApp messages that I’ve sent my sister. I can’t even think of her as deceased. It’s not something I would have ever thought I’d be saying.

She is in every second of my day. On Monday morning, I tried to go back to training and instead I ended up watching my bestie wod. I had moments where my heart felt the pain of being at a place where my sister encouraged me so much. When I started CrossFit she would drive me to classes and give me pep talks in her car. Throughout my life, she has always been there to motivate, encourage and offer me home truths, some of them uncomfortable but done as only an older sister can. I’ve had a few setbacks in my Crossfit journey, but my sister believed that I had what it took to become a top athlete in South Africa. After recovering from a nasty back injury, the rehab and the grind to being better in 2018, had already begun. Now I feel lost. Derailed. Seeing everything in black or variations of it. Being anywhere that isn’t my room, feels like a slap in the face. A reality that I hate to face. A reality that I have to face. A reality that I am forced to face. It’s a reality that means I have to function. It means I have to do something other than think about her. It means I have to go on with my life. It means I have to go on with my life without her.

I haven’t yet had any days that have felt easier or better than the previous one. Each passing day adds to the number of days that we’ve been without my sister. Each passing day adds to the number of days that we are in shock of having so suddenly lost our sunflower. The toughest person you could have ever met. She had a true warrior spirit that seemed to have been what held me together. She was my best friend, a protective older sister, and even though this is generally a tough one, she understood me.

I went for a run on Monday evening, there were heavy rain clouds which afforded some comfort to me that perhaps nature seemed to be grieving too. I ran in silence: fast and hard thinking of my sister who would find my starting pace a bit too fast to be sustained. I thought about all the times that I could have slowed down to accommodate her. I thought about how even with my grumpiness at having to slow down, she treated each run with me as though she were running with her best friend for the first time.

I think of her final words to me a lot. I think of how I didn’t even know that those were her final words. It feels as though there is a tear in my heart.

So when people say ‘I’m here if you need anything.’ Here is the ‘anything,’ that I would like and that I need: I would like for you to piece my heart back together. I would like for you to tell me how one goes on with a ‘normal’ routine when life has thrown in a situation that wasn’t supposed to be part of your normal. I need time to sit. Time to heal. Time to understand and time to grieve. Now is a good time to press the pause button on life. The remote must be hidden.

Grief.

It comes in shades of black.

Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.”

C.S Lewis

The Problem of Pain

Post-Open Reflection 

Two weeks have passed, the Open is over and training has gone back to its usual schedule. I’ve read a few posts on post-Open reflection, so here’s mine: I hated the Open 😂

This year, a recurring injury flaring up, partly…if not solely because of my inconsistency in keeping up with my strengthening exercises and yoga 🙈 kept me from feeling like I was Open ready, and I know you’re never ever truly ready for the hell that Castro unleashes, but prior to signing up for the Open, I didn’t feel fit enough or strong enough. I didn’t feel like I had enough. I finally signed up for the Open after chatting to one of my coaches at CrossFit 4 Elements, Nuno. One of the best coaches you’ll ever have, and ever since he started coaching us, first at Fit 5ive and then at CrossFit 4 Elements, there hasn’t really been a day where I don’t like King Louie 🐒 sing:


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ooh be doo, I wanna be like you ooh ooh! I wanna walk like you *cheep*, talk like you too. You see it’s true, someone like me…


Stop, stop, let’s get back to the bare necessities of this paragraph at least!  In my opinion, it’s a great box where you want to be like your coach (and now I have two great coaches, the other being Bruno Calha) but being like coach means hard work and let’s be real, hard work isn’t as fun as posting inspirational quotes about how the lioness in you must roar louder than your fears. This is the reality that I have had to face. There is definitely a place for inspirational quotes but they don’t come before hard work, consistency and diligence. I have never been as emotional as I was this year and as I set my sights on the better athlete that I want to be; warning ⚠️ to the coaches, there are more tears and tantrums on the way 😂 #sorrynotsorry but with the tantrums, I know that there will also be growth. Where I was at 90% in terms of caring about what everyone else thought of me as a CrossFitter; I’m now at 85% 🙈 The narrative in my head was one that was highly critical, self conscious, so much negative talk going on in my head. Failing even before I begin: this is the story that I’m having to rewrite not just for CrossFit but in all areas of my life so that I’m always functioning at what works best for me, not what would accommodate everyone else’s schedule or preference.

And do you know what I’ve discovered? It is really hard! I’ve always been someone who’s cared more about what people think of her than what she thinks of herself…I think they’re called people pleasers 🤔 I’ve been making a more concerted effort to kill that part of me. I’ve realized this, or should I say, I am realizing this: it is not selfish to take care of your soul first and establishing the values that are important to and for you, before you take care of anyone else. It’s actually healthier to do things from a place where your spirit is balanced. The increase in confidence, though be it rather slow (feels slow from my side,) is the overflow from my time with God. I shared a few posts back about my battle with depression and as I make the baby steps to everyday not allowing those dark demons to win; God gives me strength enough not just for that day but for every moment that is encapsulated in that day. Music sounds sweeter, life seems sweeter, Jesus feels and is sweeter and nearer. Getting back to knowing my old Friend again is doing something to my insides that just makes it seem so disrespectful to this temple that He created, to be negative or to berate it for not being able to do 50 muscle ups…can we get there though God?

This walk back to the Saviour has been hard work; hard in the sense where I had forgotten how important and vital it is to have Him as my compass and as the one who calibrates me when my settings need a reboot. This principle is one that I am trying to apply to CrossFit. Talent is fantastic and if by any means you are naturally gifted to wack out those 50 muscle ups, by all means do it! But the still small voice of God that I’m starting to hear again during my wods, reminds me that there is no substitute for hard work, discipline and a little bit of optimism never hurts. It’s time to believe that I am a great advancing soul, and guess what? So are you!

I did have a little bit of a cry (on my own,) when the Open scores were finalized and I compared how much I had dropped from last year. And then I put on my big girl pants and decided to move forward; attack the weaknesses, do the accessory work and JUST MOVE ON.

Constant reminders like the white rubber band that I just bought help. Katrin wears one that reads “CFNE- Complaint Free world” and each time you complain you have to move it to your other wrist. The goal is to keep it on the same wrist, that translates to no complaining. For me this will be serve as a visual reminder to work hard, stay positive, believe I can and continue to build on my mental strength. I will do whatever it takes to get to the stage where it matters less and less what people think about me. So I’m excited, a bit scared but at this point; the only thing that I stand to lose, is a negative mindset.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

THIS SONG IS PERFECT!

#Goals

I love the word goals.

Last night as I watched Beyoncé’s Grammy performance, I thought #pregnancygoals. Her dance moves…#goals, her body pre-pregnancy, you guessed it…#goals! A couple of weeks ago at the box, I was admiring Andreia’s butt! If you have been lucky enough to see her butt then you’ll understand why; #buttgoals. A few moments later I was on instagram, mildly stalking Sam Briggs, going through a heavy bout of muscle up envy, and as soon as I saw her abs, do you want to know what I thought…#goals, #goals, #goals. And then I thought about how much cardio (which is hardio,) that I’d have to do in order to have abs visible through whatever I’m wearing…one day! This is where the part of me that is a little bit wiser stopped me in my tracks and asked me a question that I’m gonna unpack with you today: what if you were your goals? What if (if you’re pregnant,) you were your pregnancy goals? What if your body was your dream body? What if your life was your #goals? What would happen then? Would you have to take some time to truly work on yourself and the things that you can change in order to put that hashtag on your life? What if  instead of dissecting your life, and thinking about how far you still have to go, you used that time to celebrate your achievements, and if we’re still talking about CrossFit, what about celebrating the body you’ve worked so hard for and are still working hard for?

 

Because of the nature of my relationship with God, 9 times out of 10 when He knows I need to be corrected, it’ll be through something that happens at the box. Well yesterday after the WOD, I was talking to my coach and he asked me if I would be entering the Open. For those of you not into CrossFit (not judging you…a lot) the CrossFit Open is a five week competion, five workouts, one released each week, and it is without a doubt, the highlight of the CrossFit calendar. I said to my coach how I didn’t feel ready and how I just knew that I would suck, I would not be entering the Open because in my mind, I had already decided that I would bomb out. My toes to bar, they aren’t anybody’s goals, my deadlifts…maybe on a good day. I bet he didn’t know I could see that far into the future. Naturally I got a bit cocky and thought “well that settles it, I have presented valid points as to why I should not do the Open. I win.” Now if you have a great coach, you will NEVER EVER win any argument like that where you belittle yourself, highlight all your weaknesses and throw yourself under the bus. For the sake of not making this post too long, I will share one thing that my coach said that I’ve been mulling on for the past 24 hours and what my plan of action is. He told me to stop being so hard on myself, to stop thinking that everyone is judging me. To stop thinking that everyone is judging my failures as harshly as I do. Did I mention how much I hate my coach sometimes?  This morning when I got to work, I started a devotional by Craig Groeschel entitled ‘Words to Live By,’ and as I watched the video (which you can do by clicking on this link,) it is as though God crept into my mind to remind me how my stinking thinking was keeping me far from living a life that I could be proud of calling my own, and placing that goals hashtag in front of it. This is but one of the things the stuck out:

Our lives move on in the direction of our strongest thoughts. Your life is moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. Are you excited about the direction your thoughts are taking you?

I just about started to cry as I thought about the HONEST answer to that question. There is not a part of me that is excited about the direction my thoughts are taking me. For the purpose of this article, let’s keep it as CrossFit related as we can. If I think about the athlete I am right now and my current thought process, nowhere in the picture that I paint or have painted in my mind, is there an emotionally sound athlete. Nowhere in this negative picture driven by my thoughts, is there an athlete who does not easily get rattled. Nowhere in this picture is there an athlete who I would place the hashtag, goals in front of a picture of her. This is the reality. I would do the work but in the midst of buckling down and working, I would berate myself for not going fast enough, for not being strong enough, for not being good enough. And you know what, even though no one else can hear your thoughts audibly, (that would suck,) your body can! It begins to behave in the direction that your thoughts are telling you it’s going to behave. It’s great to be aware of my stinking thinking, to a certain  extent I’ve always known how detrimental I am to myself, it’s so much more easier for me to believe in others, see the good in them and celebrate their successes, than it is to celebrate (humbly,) my achievements. This awareness is great BUT what is the solution? Well after watching Pastor Groeschel’s message, I finally know what to do. Positive affirmations said aloud, each and every single morning until my words match God’s words about my life. This is one that I will be repeating for however long it takes for me to get it through my thick skull that I am enough.

My words, thoughts and imagination are under the power of Christ. I take all thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ.

 

It lines up to Romans 12:2,

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

My prayer for you and for me especially today, is that God would renew your mind, renew your thinking, especially if it has been stinky like mine, and for Him to show you just how strong, beautiful AND capable you are. YES YOU ARE! 

In the words of Barack Obama; YES I CAN! YES YOU CAN! YES WE CAN!!! 

You’re Gonna Be Ok

Initially when I was thinking about my next post, I considered writing about how much I hated Tuesday’s wod…maybe not the wod, but one movement in particular…toes to bar.

6 Rounds For Time (why!!!)

7 x Burpee Box jump over

14 x T2B<—evil!!!

21 x SDHP (50/35kg)

15 min time cap

WOD 2 (just to ruin your grip a little bit further…)

15 Min EMOM

1st – Dead Hold (80/60)

2nd – 15 x Snatch (35/20)

3rd – Max reps pull ups
Woke up the next day and my hand was throbbing! Spicy, spicy!

Toes to bar are my arch nemesis, truth be told, I don’t spend enough time working on trying to string them together, but we’ll talk about  my laziness in another post ok!

In the Uber yesterday, and this morning on the way to work, as I dissected that wod (I am an overthinker and I analyse absolutely everything, gift and sometimes it’s a curse!) and how much better I could have done if I didn’t allow my general dislike of TTB to consume me, I came to the realization that it wasn’t just knowing that there were TTB in the wod that had ruined my day, dramatic sounding I know…but it was mainly because yesterday was one of those days where the mean reds got me. If you don’t know what the mean reds are, I suggest you stop what you’re doing right now and go watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s. 

Here’s a snippet of that scene:

Holly Golightly: You know those days when you get the mean reds?

Paul Varjak: The mean reds, you mean like the blues?

HG: No. The blues are because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long, you’re just sad that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?

PV: Sure.

HG: Well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany’s. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that’d make me feel like Tiffany’s, then – then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name!

The mean reds are what people who suffer or who have suffered with depression, are all too familiar with. It’s those days when the darkness inside you makes you feel a lot more despondent about a situation, whether big or small. The mean reds, as HG stated is not the same as being sad. I think of sadness as something that is largely circumstantial. The mean reds, or depression is different. When you suffer with depression, everything around you could be going great but in your eyes, you’re sinking in a dark hole, and if I’m being honest, there are days when you would love for nothing more than to be swallowed by that dark hole. Disappear.

As my beautiful friend Vanessa put it, depression is like dipping your feet into tar only you never quite get rid of that stickiness, you never quite get rid of the black mark that it leaves on you. At the same time, if you’re intentional about it, there are places that exist like Tiffany’s, that can calm you down and stop those mean reds from controlling you…except I’d buy a dog instead of a cat, dogs are the best!

My first bout of depression was triggered off in 2013, that incident is too lengthy to put it in here, maybe it deserves a separate post. During that period of my life, it felt as though the life was being sucked out of my soul. I felt battered and bruised. And then you go for therapy, and you think you’re okay. This was also when my walk with God became a lot stronger because oftentimes I felt as though no one else understood what was going on inside, and the great thing about venting to God is that in those moments, (and even today,) I never feel judged by Him. I never feel as though He sees me as weak or unable to cope. In Him I found a strong tower and refuge, my confidante from whom I never hear any of those labels or stigma attached to people who suffer with depression. So you might be wondering, ‘if you have found this strong tower and refuge in the LORD, why did the mean reds get you yesterday?’ My reason: getting so wrapped up, perhaps too wrapped up in work and rescuing other people that I began to neglect time for myself with God.

CrossFit, fitness in general has always been how I personally connect best with God, but the past few months, this busyness of life and trying to rescue others when you’re running on empty, has left me on the verge of depletion, on the verge of breaking down and all the more easily controlled by the mean reds. It took a  crying session with one of my closest friends (Sherine,) and the day before a chat with my other darling (Monica,) and then yesterday’s chat with my beautiful Vanessa, and then later in the evening, being pulled out from under the bus by my sissy and bestie (Givs,) for me to realise that I absolutely cannot keep neglecting my mental health. This is something that I forget. When things are going well, I forget that I need a daily tune up. If the Word and Jesus is truly my life then that means that everyday I should be running to Him, being molded and transformed into His likeness. His peace and His rhythms of grace challenging and conquering all that I face.

This morning I woke up feeling a little bit better, that’s the thing about suffering with depression, it can sometimes feel like you’re constantly on an emotional roller coaster. It can also make you one really tough cookie to love. Sometimes I feel incredibly emotionally unstable, those are the days when the reds probably consume me the most because I try to hide it from everyone, but that’s okay because now and then, thank the Holy Spirit, He reminds me that I don’t fight alone and that he loves me. Do you know what a challenge it can be to remember that daily? It’s hard, but another darling friend, (Ashleigh) reminded me that it isn’t impossible.

I truly love my girlfriends, incredibly blessed with them, and do you know  what, in spite of sometimes feeling like a failure, I know that I truly do love God. I am very much aware of how much worse I could be if I didn’t have Him. In Him, I have found a place better than Tiffany’s.  I’m not always the easiest to love…heck, not even the easiest to like because there is a part of me that has become calloused because of having suffered with depression, but as Ness put it yesterday, you sit in the sun (or with the Son,) and He thaws you out, but you have to be intentional about sitting with Him, and this sitting is anything but passive. It’s uncomfortable and will expose you for who you and who you’re not .

Mental health is important. It’s something that we neglect. It’s something that we don’t like dealing with, and in a ways perhaps we are even ashamed of saying that we suffer with mental illness, but the only way to confront any illness, physical or mental is to confront it and keep working (preferably with God,) to get better and healthier. Mental health is just as important, if not more important than physical health for out of your soul, out of your spirit, is where life flows from.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

One of the ways that I cope is through writing, running and CrossFit. All of these done with God. My challenge is to remember to keep coping and keep fighting with God. I need to remember that it’s okay to not be okay but that I will be okay.
To illustrate this example, let’s go back to my toes to bar. Obviously I will never be able to cope with a high volume of toes to bar in a WOD, if I don’t work on them (I don’t really want to work on them though…) and if I don’t listen to my coach, or ask for help in mastering that stupid move…okay from now on, no longer calling them stupid haha, then I will never learn how to cope and excel with TTB!

It’s a similar thing with depression, I have to keep going to my Creator who has mastered living life, to learn from Him, how to do life without letting the reds control me. I cannot neglect this. It doesn’t mean everyday is going to be fantastic, but it does mean that he makes me stronger each day. Yesterday I listened to this anointed song by Jenn Johnson and started crying at work haha, luckily I didn’t have any make up on and no one had arrived yet. I pray that it will bless you and that God would cover you with His spirit to remind you that you, yes you! You’re gonna be ok.

Motivation: How to find it, how to lose it and how to keep it!

You’re in the final minutes of a WOD* (one word…Karen) and if you haven’t yet fallen in love with CrossFit (I don’t understand why not?) perhaps you have a few more reps, or a few more minutes (if you’re doing endurance training,) left in your workout. In those final minutes, or those final reps, there’s a lot going through your mind. For some it might be the agony of still having ‘X’ amount of reps  left to complete, it might be a thought on how you’re going to push past that level of discomfort and not start to cry like a baby…I have found myself on this side of the spectrum more often than not, CrossFit and running in particular, unearths the weepy girl in me!  It’s especially hard during those last few reps of a disgusting WOD, where everyone is cheering for you to finish (which I always think is such a beautiful moment,) and I can sometimes become so overwhelmed with emotion (maybe it’s the adrenaline?) that I can feel tears pooling up in my eyes, on the verge of coming out! Thankfully at that point, I’m sweating so much that no one ever knows that I’m dangerously close to crying…well now they know!

Motivation is what will keep you going in those moments where perhaps you do have tears streaming down your face (masked within the sweat of course!) Motivation is what will keep you going even when you’re uncomfortable,  in that moment when 3 more thrusters might as well be 300 more! Motivation is what will keep you going even when you would much rather throw in that towel, in spite of what people say to use that towel to wipe the sweat (tears in my case haha,) off of your face.

But hang on, what is motivation and how do we find it?

motivation noun a desire or willingness to do something; a force or influence that causes someone to do something

Here’s how I found my motivation; i.e. my desire or willingness to do something; and these things can range from tasks such as completing a WOD, preparing for a presentation at work as efficiently as I can and many  other things in life! I found this desire through spending time with God. It was really when I read Colossians 3:23-24 (which I consider as my life verse,) that I began to understand how desire and willingness sustained by God, never wanes. This is what it says:

‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart (work with willingness and desire,) as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.’ (emphasis added)

Through this verse, God showed me how in everything that I did and do, if I have the mindset of doing it all for Him, whether it is in CrossFit or at work, or even in a relationship (when I eventually get into one,) if I have pleasing God as my one and only goal, doing EVERYTHING unto the LORD, that passion, willingness and desire to do something extraordinary in life, will always be there. This is the sure-fire way to keep motivation. By focusing on something and someone way bigger than my ambitions and always having in my mind, how what I’m doing can glorify God; this motivation becomes something that is sustained by God and the Holy Spirit. This motivation, this drive and willingness is no longer something that I, Aurélie, have to keep alive through my own strength that on some days will fail me.

On the flipside, motivation can also be lost. We’ve seen it in movies or perhaps we’ve  been guilty of uttering this phrase about someone who’s looking lacklustre…I am rather ashamedly, guilty of having uttered such a phrase:

‘What happened to Jenny? She really has  let herself go, it’s almost as though she’s lost the will (motivation/desire/willingness,) to live.’

In my experience, this loss of desire and willingness to do anything, usually happens when we’ve put other people’s expectations of us on a pedestal. What they think of us, and what they want of us, has become of higher importance than the great call that Christ has placed on our lives. We get caught up in being this person whose desire to do something, is dictated by another human’s expectation. Expectations that often reflect fickle emotions that can change overnight. We begin to live in a way that cultivates insecurity, breeds suspicion, until we find ourselves out of touch with the true essence of our being. Motivation based on what or who people want you to be, places you on a dangerous path of being more focused on what people think is best for you, as opposed to what you, as a beautiful and strong individual, knows is best for her or indeed himself! You’re living but it never is really for yourself. You’re driven, but it’s never because of any desires of your own. You’re ambitious, but ambitious to be the you that everyone else wants you to be, and motivation fuelled by such expectations, is unrealistic.

Keeping motivation, a desire to live your best life, is no easy task. It requires an awareness of all those things, and in some cases, all those people who are draining life from you. A great place to start if by doing an evaluation on what you’re filling your head with. Right now, as you’re reading this post, take a minute to write down on a piece of paper (or on a blackboard with chalk, if you’re me,) WHAT AM I FILLING MY MIND WITH? Filling our minds with negative thoughts will only ever breed negativity. These thoughts can easily pollute and derail any good thoughts that run through your mind. These thoughts can so easily become destructive and before you know it, you too have become like Jenny 😉 In some cases, (I like to think of those as the really drastic situations, so drastic that I’m even going to invent an acronym for it right now! RDS.) In the event of an RDS, it might even be necessary to stop hanging around with certain people that might have your best interest at heart, but are misguided in how they’re delivering that message and again the negativity that those intentions can often be shrouded in, will never be conducive to cultivating a healthy you. When you find yourself in an RDS, it can also mean that spiritually, physically and emotionally, you’re never truly connecting with the deeper parts of you (the part of you that God created as unique, breathtaking in beauty and not based at all on anyone’s expectation of who you should be.)

I’ve had to take time to think about this post, what is it that motivates me? Who is it that motivates me? Amongst the names that popped through my head, it all came back to one person. The lover of my soul, Jesus. Now, I want to say that I have completely mastered the art of relying on Him for motivation…for everything but hey I am a work in progress, and unfortunately, it pains me to say that I am not as perfect as I love to think I am. I still fall prey to seeing ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ everyone else is doing what they’re doing, as opposed to my ‘why’, the Jesus given ‘why’ behind everything I do. Thankfully every now and then, this elephant** remembers her source of motivation. Jesus. My dreamboat. As many times as I forget, He is still always there being my biggest cheerleader, alongside with the Holy Spirit, always reminding me of Colossians 3:23-24. He is, and will forever be, the reason why I desire to be a better woman in all aspects of my life! In the long run, you’ll find that though you might get weary sometimes, you’ll never truly feel as though you’re done with your journey, the desire and motivation never truly leave, because you’ll always be thinking about how you can do your utmost for His highest.

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Photo credit: Luke Venter (@fruitlukes)

*workout of the day

 **I call myself an elephant because I love elephants and I aspire to be like an elephant…strong and able to eat more than twice my body weight #lifegoals!