Bible Study · Health · Life · TOUGH: A Bible Study · Uncategorized

Introduction to TOUGH, Part 1

Hi Friends! While the official study won’t begin until next week, I wanted to share my heart and personal story concerning the ‘why’ with this particular topic.

First let me say that similar to the study I wrote in the fall, Unopened – I am walking out the principles we are discussing while I am writing on them. This journey to ‘get tough’ is incredibly personal for me. My level of ‘holy grit’ has been — and continues to be — tested with challenges, temptations, disappointments, and utter exhaustion. Yet, by God’s grace, here we are.

The posts for the next 4 weeks will be more scripturally based, so for right now, I wanted to open up to you all, in hopes that you’ll know where I’m coming from when I reference my own journey towards Holy Grit.

First, I’ll admit that I’ve never really thought of myself as tough. I’ve always wanted to be tough, but especially throughout childhood and into my adolescence, I just wasn’t. With so many past pursuits, I can look back and think ‘had I only worked harder on that’ and imagine what might’ve come from a few extra hours of intentional, focused effort.

If we were to look back at my life’s roadmap of health and holy grit, there would be times when I’ve been pretty healthy, and others extremely unhealthy.

Because, fear. Fear is a bully of it’s own category. What if I embarrass myself trying? What if I’ll never be good at this? What if I can’t put in the time and effort it will take to get better?

I think sometimes when we are not naturally, or very quickly, good at something – fear sets in. And sometimes, if we’re being real honest, we just don’t want to do the work – simply because it’s hard.   

I hesitate to admit this – but I truly believe that sometimes, the problem is my laziness. I don’t want to work hard, because I just really want things in life to come easy. I shudder at my own shallowness in even typing those words.

Yet, the last 8 or so years have made me a student of life. The interesting twists and turns, the shocking things, the exciting adventures, and then a few pretty hard falls – have all taught me things.

Like sometimes, things really do just fall in our lap – and surprisingly fall together just so. However, there are other things – beneficial and rewarding things – that require work, effort, time, money, heartstrings, unfamiliar places – the list goes on.

For example, I’m not naturally thin, or especially coordinated (just ask my extremely athletic sister and 3 brothers). Thus, paying attention to my diet and exercise habits require ‘extra’ from me. And extra is annoying sometimes.  I don’t want to cook healthy food all the time. I don’t like meal planning and dirty dishes. I don’t typically enjoy exercising – it’s time consuming and means I have to prioritize my day and week to work it in.

Yet, I hate the headaches I get from excessive sugar, and the way my stomach cramps from dairy. I need the endorphins from the exercise to help me fight off mood swings. The extra energy I get from working out helps me push through my busy weeks. See? There it is – my first-world shallow out on display.

But, if becoming a student of life has taught me anything, it’s taught me to enjoy studying the word of God. In the last few years, I’ve begun to love getting up early, opening my Bible and study materials and spending the morning with the Lord. That time has become the most important part of my day.

For whatever reason, that is not presently a struggle in my life – the real struggle for me is practicing self-control, making time for the things I need to do but don’t want to do, and then not pouting the entire time I’m doing them (like meal-planning or working out).

I’m going to pray you don’t mind me addressing my eating and exercising struggles as ‘shallow tough’ because on some level, it is tough. Getting up at 4:15AM to work out at 5 is kind of tough, but it’s also a choice I make 2-3 times a week. Cooking at home instead of eating out means more prep and dirty dishes, but it’s what my husband and I choose to do.

Because needing to exercise is nothing to compare with a vibrant and once-healthy young woman who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer months before graduating high school. But that’s what happened. Nearing the end of her battle, she chose to bravely wear her leg braces, accept a little help, and walk across the football field with her classmates at graduation.

That’s tough. That’s Holy Grit.

That’s what we’re going to title ‘deep and excruciating tough.’

In each of our lives and seasons, tough looks different. I believe that we all have areas that we are either already practicing toughness, or need to be. I also believe that as Christians living today, we must be able to do the ‘shallow-tough’ things, in order to rise up to do the ‘deep and excruciatingly tough’ things.

I am convinced that whatever we do, whatever choices we make, however we spend our time, effort, and money – it will ultimately lead us towards Jesus Christ or away from Him.

For first-world Christians, this is counter cultural. Intentionally turning towards the hard, but ultimately good and rewarding things will seem ridiculous to many of our acquaintances. Yet we, as Christ followers, see God asking us to do that exact thing for the sake of his refinement and glorification in us.

The Lord has used my disinterest and feelings of inability when it comes to exercise to grow and challenge me. From that place, my lifestyle habits have become an act of worship.

Here’s the bottom line for me, and the following statement will carry my writing, ideas, and questions throughout our month together:

As Christians, we are to love the Lord with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). To carry this out, and to do life on earth in a way that glorifies Christ, it will take everything we’ve got. We will have to prioritize our time and efforts, health and relationships. We will have to work hard, and we will have to get tough, stay tough, and then teach tough to others.

Heather and I have come together to examine the breakdown of these ‘bottom line’ concepts:

  • What does it look like to love and serve God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength?
  • What does it look like to work hard and get tough, in the name of God?
  • How can we, as busy women, implement these things into our lives in real, yet practical ways?
  • What are areas I need to work on in order to become a tough woman in the name of the Lord?

Together, we are going to examine scriptures that offer hope and direction as to how we can live healthy in order to fully embrace the life and call God has laid out for each of our lives.

“Love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

We are using this as our ‘lantern verse,’ in that Mark 12:30  will light the way for our entire study together. The implications of this verse are not only important and foundational to the Christian faith, but I also hope to be able to show you it’s an intriguing legacy as well.

On Wednesday, I’ll go into detail about the verse on a separate post I hope you’ll check out.

The culture we live in will try to coax us into believing that God is far away, out of touch, and disinterested in a personal relationship with us.

First-world, post-church culture will encourage us to be distracted by ‘shallow-tough’, so that we become ignorant to, and/or feel incapable of ‘deep and excruciating tough’ circumstances.

Our culture will pressure us to measure our worth by likes and followers, our looks and figure, our level of perceived intelligence and wealth, social status, where we live, or went to college; as the list goes on – all are things we have to deal with as humans living in our world.

Yet, the defining factor of our life, as well as our eternity, will hang on who we trust and have put our faith into.

Whether or not we live out Mark 12:30 will speak to the world what we believe it is to be a Christ follower.

Our goal pant size, elite gym membership, and even number of scriptures memorized or quiet times completed will never compare to the honor it is to bear the title ‘Daughter of the Most High King.’

Wherever you are on your own pendulum of healthy, or tough, I hope you embrace the love of God today. Know whose you are. Know that our greatest inheritance is not pretty hair, or great legs – it’s a relationship with God.

The theme for this entire project is for us to learn to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength – and to then live life as beautifully re-made lights, offering the ultimate hope to a lost and dark world.

Would you, just for a minute, think on that?

What does it look like to love God with all of those things?

What are a couple things that you need to do, but don’t want to do?

Will you start praying over those few areas that could use some ‘holy grit?’

Here’s what’s coming: sign up for our blog e-mails and you’ll get 1 guided, more in-depth post from me on each week’s topic. This will include biblical analysis and personal application material to walk you through the concepts we’re addressing. Once you’ve signed up to follow my site, 4 guided quiet times will be sent to your inbox every weekday morning for the next 4 weeks.

If you don’t currently have a daily quiet time or Bible study you’re working through, I invite and encourage you to join in. Each post shouldn’t take more than 10-20 minutes of your day, but will be a great practice for you to get into God’s word on a daily basis.

The posts will have short analysis, with multiple places in the Bible meant for you to check out. The cross-references and multiple verses are meant to give a more complete picture of the Bible. After the reading, there will be a few questions to answer. Some will be easy and straight from the text, while others will guide you to pause and reflect over what you’ve just read.

Check back here and with Heather for more. The best thing you can do to make sure you don’t miss anything is to sign up on the e-mail tab of each site.

Ladies, thank you for joining us. We have been praying over this for several months now. We are honored that you’ve come along for what we hope to be an incredible experience.

We’ll be cheering each other on from the sidelines of life – hoping and praying for us all to grow throughout the challenge.


4 thoughts on “Introduction to TOUGH, Part 1

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