For the past few weeks, I have been working through a mental health coaching course. I have learned a lot of great information that can help me as I have conversations with those struggling with mental health issues. A couple of weeks ago as I was listening to the lesson, I was bored out of my mind. A great way to start, right? You know those professors who don’t have a lot of infections in their voice as they speak and they kinda talk in circles where they keep repeating the same things over just in different ways to describe it. Well, that was this lesson. I spent 48 minutes listening and taking notes because there is a quiz at the end of every lesson and I need to pass it to move on. I was probably at the 45-minute mark when the professor made a statement that was actually quite simple, but the impact it made changed my mindset and I think it might change yours as well. I don’t think he probably realized when he was recording this video the impact it would have on one of his listeners.
I won’t make you sit through 45 minutes of lecturing. His statement was this, “there is a difference between trying and training.” That’s it! On the surface that makes sense, yeah everyone knows there is a difference. For example, an Olympic athlete would never say, “I’m going to try to swim some laps today.” No, they go to training facilities and they put in a ridiculous amount of hours training for that giant stage so that they can give it everything they have. They train because it is of utmost importance to them and they know without training they can never compete.
So the question lies, how did that change my mindset completely? Great question, I would love to tell you. Now I am not an Olympic athlete, even though as a young girl I always wanted to be an Olympic gymnast, but that dream faded when I was the tallest kid in my 6th-grade class. However, this statement is true for each and every one of us. There is a difference between trying and training. When you ask someone about how their spiritual walk is going, I’ve heard it said quite a lot and I’ve used this as my answer many times, “well, I’m trying to get into God’s word and read the bible.” “I’m trying to pray more.” “I’m trying fill in the blank.”
Trying never leads to success. In reality, it typically leads to failure or giving up. That’s because there is no intentionality behind your “try”. On the other hand, training leads to success and has intentionality. Much like the athlete training doesn’t just happen by accident or winging it. Training requires a plan or routine. The good thing is that can look different for everyone, it’s not a cookie-cutter training plan. God created us all unique and gave us all different gifts and passions which can affect our training. I would encourage you to find what works best for you. If you are a morning person set time aside in the morning to spend time with God in praying and reading. If you are a night owl set time aside in the evening. If you love to read find a great reading plan or devotional. If you struggle with reading, like me, find a podcast or audible devotional. Find ways to help you take one step closer to Jesus every day.
I have been able to add a drivetime devotional into my daily routine. I listen to it on the way to work and it helps me dive deeper into scripture then I finish my drive off with worship music until I arrive at the office. This changes my mindset for the day and prepares me for what is to come and overall it is a great way to start my day. But I have to be intentional because it would be easy to get in and not turn the devotional on or start thinking about other things and that is why the idea of training is so important.
What am I training for? A life as a disciple. I define a disciple as, “someone who continually works to center their life on Jesus, in order to become more like him. They apply what they are learning by prioritizing and developing relationships with God and with others, radically pursuing God’s plan for the redemption of all people, and living a life on mission to expand the kingdom.”
In Mark, 12:30-31it says, “ Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
I want to apply what I can learn from these verses in my life daily. That means I need to train in every area of my life, through healthy spiritual, physical, and mental practices. Spiritual practices are reading the bible, praying, generosity, being in community, and living a life on mission. The goal of all these practices is to take one step closer to Jesus so that we can become like him. Physical practices are taking care of your body by eating well and exercising. As a culture, we typically go to one extreme or the other and we need to heal our relationship with food and the way we see ourselves. Getting out of the mindset that you are eating “good” or “bad” food and start seeing ourselves in the image of God because we were created in His image. Last but definitely not least, mental practices. Mental practices are being aware and recognizing when to ask for help or talk to someone. One of my professors said, “healthy people talk out their feelings, unhealthy people act out their feelings.” No one gets a pass and we all deal with really big emotions at times in our lives. That’s why it’s so important to have tools to help when those emotions arise.
So with that being said I want to ask you a question today. Are you trying or training? If you are like me and for the majority of your life you have been trying to do all the right things but also felt like you have constantly been on the struggle bus, take this as encouragement and start today. You don’t have to reinvent every part of your life all at once. Simply find one practice to include in your daily life starting today and as time goes on continue adding more. One day you might just look back at what has been happening in your life and realize you are doing the things you have always been trying to do. Start your training today by taking one step closer to Jesus.
I pray that this blog today was an encouragement to you. Always know I am available to pray with you or just be someone to talk to when life gets hard. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need prayer!
Talk to you soon!