Strengthening my core – has been an issue. I’m very weak in the middle. My posture is bad. I’ve gained some weight over the past couple years, due to several overlapping issues.
I hadn’t thought of how that integrated with my spiritual and mental self, until listening to an audio book this past week. The author emphasized the need to “strengthen your core”, but was referring to the spiritual and emotional, not the physical. The similarities were astounding to me though. It takes work, time, sweat, and discipline. It’s not fun. I’ll want to quit. I’ll probably need an accountability “buddy”, someone to work out with. I’ll have to expect that it won’t be easy and there will be days I don’t want to work hard AT ALL. I’ll want to pull up my emotional covers over my head and go to sleep. Maybe I’ll need to get a personal trainer, someone to yell at me to keep going – someone I hate, love, & admire at the same.
But what does it look like to strengthen your core in non-physical areas? What issues pop up in life that show a lack of strength? What happens when there’s a weak core? And what is it like to have true strength?
SYMPTOMS OF A WEAK CORE
Emotional breakdowns. I pride myself on being a pretty tough, resilient woman. But I cannot hold the world together. I’m not that strong. Eventually I will crumble when I just take it all, do it all, endure it all. I was never meant to carry a load I couldn’t handle. Its not about being strong enough to hold everything together all the time. What’s crucial is to know how to balance the weight each and every day, how to deal with the little pressures, how to take care of myself in the small areas so I have more endurance and wisdom. See Luke 16:10.
Self-indulgence. Most of the time I’m working hard, too hard. Then I snap. But I’m not crazy or phsycotic, so instead of getting drunk or doing something overtly self-destructive, I go shopping…I MEAN SHOPPING. I’ll binge on chocolate cheesecake, or Netflix. I’ll immerse myself in something totally unproductive, unhealthy for me, and most disturbingly…I don’t come back. I stay there. I tell myself I deserve to focus on me…because after all…I’m a martyr. Right? I earned some selfish time. But indulgence is never healthy. Its destructive. There’s a difference between knowing and tending to my true needs, and indulging in fleshly appetites in order to cover up my weak soul and body. Indulgence is dis-empowering.
Resentment. It’s like when I look in the mirror and see way more of a tummy pooch than ought to be there! It’s growing not shrinking. I tried eating a health shake for breakfast and lunch every day, but hardly lost any weight! The truth stares me in the face. There’s no denying it. Without huge, drastic efforts, the extra pounds in my middle just aren’t going to come off. Why can’t it be easier? Maybe the weight was someone else’s fault. Not mine. Those friends who betrayed me. That verbally abusive husband. Those 4 babies I bore. That car accident that injured me and left me inactive for months. Pounds come on from stress, depression, hormones. It depends on the person too. Everyone’s different. There’s no one cause or answer. Resentment is no different. It has the same roots. It’s a build-up of unique experiences that shape my core being. Am I free and strong, or am I burdened down and weak?
WHAT BUILDS THE CORE…
Time. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not a quick fix. It’s a lifestyle change. It’s a commitment to becoming a different person altogether. A better person – my truest, highest self. The person God has promised to help me evolve into if I just let Him love me and lead me. How much time it takes will depend on my focus. Do I really see the need to strengthen my core…for good? Do I really want this change…permanently? How important is it? Can I remind my myself that my happiness, relationships, health, and life depend on it? See Galatians 6:9. Do I believe this important, life-changing truth!? Or do I believe the enemy’s lie that it’s not that important today. I just need to rest and distract myself from life’s challenges? Time will tell.
Wisdom. See Proverbs 24:3. It doesn’t work to just start exercising. I have to wisely invest in a strategy that’s going to work. If I only do crunches, eventually I’ll realize I’m not getting anywhere. I’ll quit. I’ll give up. I’ll go back to my Netflix binging. I need professionally evaluated by someone who knows what they’re taking about. Even simple yoga or workout videos demonstrate some wisdom in how to approach core-building. There are many exercises, poses, and ideas for strengthening the core. And as the body is so complex, it’s imperative that I diversify. It’s the same spiritually and emotionally. My soul’s core needs a variety of activity and engagement in order to build up hard muscle. I don’t just want a jumping jacks routine. I want s six pack! I want to be ready when life throws me punches. I don’t want to be the girl that’s laying down, beaten down, destroyed, overcome. Scripture says that it’s my own testimony that helps ensure my victory. See Revelation 12:11. Im order to obtain a powerful inner core, I need to get out into the world and live life, meet new people, try new things, engage situations head-on, participate, be social, develop deep friendships, volunteer for greater causes, speak up, contribute. I must actively seek and find who I am and what is important to me. As I do this, that beautiful six pack starts slowly but surely….showing up. See Matthew 7:8.
Love. Proper love for myself. I deserve it. I’m important. I matter to God and to others. I am needed. Someone has not been valuing me enough to take care of me….that someone is me. I could blame God, my parents, my husband, my boss. But I am my primary source of self-love and self-care. I know when I’m not ok. If I chose to ignore myself, I will weaken. To overlook my right to empowerment is to deny my God-given value as a human being.
In the wilderness, Satan asked just one thing of Jesus…to hand over His power. He wanted Jesus to leave the results of his life to him…while Jesus would fall down and lay low, giving Satan full reign in His life. That’s ultimately all he wants. MY POWER. Just like he wanted Jesus’ power. But that power belongs to me. See Ephesians 3:16. God has ordained that I rise up through the indwelling power of His Spirit, and that I take dominion for His kingdom. This begins with myself. I must be the ruler of my own life, the maker of mybown decisions, not give into the seduction of the enemy. See Proverbs 25:28. My power comes from God. My ability to follow through and learn discipline comes from God. See Philippians 2:13.
WHAT A STRONG CORE FEELS LIKE
When my core is strong, I don’t feel the fear of becoming overwhelmed. I know I can handle anything…because I know God is with me and in me. See Philippians 4:13. When my physical core is strong, it protects my organs and central nervous system, it helps prevent injury, strengthens my breathing and digestion, and even improves heart health. Having a strong core makes it SO MUCH EASIER to do physical activities. Likewise, a strong spiritual and emotional core makes the tough everyday stress and pressures of life much more doable, bearable. See Matthew 7:25. God is my core, and I have to be committed to showing up to work on that. See 1 Timothy 4:8-11.
I have so many friends who work out faithfully. Someone of them are fitness trainers or wellness coaches. I must say that I have yet to see one of these types of people NOT also growing tremendously strong in the inner person as well as the outer. Their faith is strong. Their spirit is strong. That’s because it’s all connected. We are multi-dimensional beings created in the image of God. And God is STRONG. See Psalm 118:14. I am commanded to be strong too. Ephesians 6:10.
Diets fail, self discipline fails, emotional growth fails, when it’s not rooted in the power of God in me. I have to make sure of the three following things in order to succeed:
1. That I clearly see what I’m up against, exactly what I’m doing, and why I’m doing it. I have an enemy who wants to drain and use my power – because I am a powerful, mountain-moving child of God. I cannot forget these things, or I will quit.
2. That I get results by making sure my source and methods of practice are accurate, tried, and true….not some fad promising results with no effort. I must have my own experiences, not depend on the experiences of others. If I don’t get personal results, I will quit.
3. That I pray through tough times…just like breathing through a workout, or taking protein. God must be present in my journey, in my heart, in my soul, in my mind. I must remember that I am honoring the true nature of God and myself by building my core. If I do not remember to pray, I will eventually weaken and quit.
Go. Build. Your. Core.