Tips  on spiritual growth, emotional health, and relational healing.


The 3 Most Important Muscles We Have

Jul 21, 2015

Do you ever get to the end of the day and feel defeated? Like you’re tapping out because the day hit you with a right hook and you’ve faceplanted into the canvas? Those nights are not fun for any of us. We sit back and wonder, “what went so wrong today?!”


Photo Credit: Edmunds Brencis via Compfight cc

I wrapped up a day like this recently. I was unnecessarily exhausted. I hadn’t done anything physically draining. There were some challenges but why was I so drained? Why was I having such a hard time turning work “off”? I remember telling a friend in a text message that evening, “Today kicked my butt!”

As I thought about that question, “what went so wrong?”, I stumbled on to something. This way of thinking showed me the mental struggle you and I battle on a daily basis.

I think if we shifted our thinking and actions in a few simple ways, we would end up “on the canvas” less often and we wouldn’t find ourselves driving home so defeated.

Because after all, the things we do every day have a big impact over time. If we take action, day in and day out, then days become weeks, weeks become months, and months become momentum!

What we do daily is more important than what we do occasionally. Slow and consistent beats the quick, big flash every time.

If we don’t want to end our days with consistent feeling of defeat, then we need to exercise 3 muscles each and every day.

1) We must exercise our Gratitude Muscle.

What’s a “gratitude muscle?” Tim Sanders teaches that your gratitude muscle is the discipline habit of giving thanks even when you don’t feel like it. It involves choosing to look for things to be thankful for in a given moment. It means embracing thankfulness beyond late November. Sometimes it involves writing down three to five things you’re thankful for at the end of a hard day. Without gratitude, we flirt with entitlement…and nothing good comes from entitlement.

Gratitude reframes what we have and reminds us that it is enough. Gratitude reminds us that God has given us all we need for all that He has called us to do. This discipline of reframing shifts our perspective. In a world dominated by greed and selfishness, gratitude serves as the antidote.

2) We must exercise our No Muscle.

When it comes to the “No Muscle”, my wife has the physique of Arnold Schwarzenegger and I’m more like Napoleon Dynamite. She uses “no” like a pro and I use “yes” like some people use “like”.

On any given day, all of us have an abundance of people who will try and choose what should be most important or urgent for us. However, we cannot abdicate those decisions and leave them to others. We must exercise our No Muscle and decide what matters most (and least).

Without a strong No Muscle, we risk becoming overwhelmed. We flirt with burn out. This is why I wrote earlier this year about how “yes” and “no” are the two most important words in our vocabulary and both should be used often. I love Lysa TerKeurst’s concept of “Your Best Yes” and the reminder that our “Yes” is a limited resource.

(Note: When I think about my recent “today kicked my butt!” moment, I failed to use my gratitude and no muscles that day. I saw a lot of obligations and have-to’s instead of gifts and get-to’s. I said yes to too many things and honestly don’t remember ever saying no to any new opportunity that day. No wonder I got so beat up!)

3) We must exercise our Forgiveness Muscle.

Few things in life are guaranteed. Death, taxes…and wounds. If you get close to people or allow them to get close to you, I can guarantee you’ll get hurt and you’ll hurt them too. We wound each other and sadly, we often most wound those closest to us.

When we get wounded, we have a choice. Stay open and forgive or shut down and become bitter or cynical. We must exercise our Forgiveness Muscle if we want to be open to surprises like joy, hope, and wonder. Without forgiveness, we carry the weight of unforgiven wrongs and a sense of suspicion which ruins relationships.

Many of us do not forgive because our view of forgiveness is inaccurate and full of misconceptions. If we become cynical and bitter, we cut off the flow of life inside us. We can either deal with our wounds or we will pass them on to others.

I love how the Bible includes the Apostle Paul’s conclusion to his letter, 1 Thessalonians. His words are so relevant to this subject. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.” Paul understood the muscles he needed to daily strengthen to do the work God had created and call him to do. They are the same muscles we need to work out.

I cannot guarantee that today or tomorrow will tap out as soon as you work on being grateful, saying no and forgiving others. But if our daily actions include sowing gratitude, focus and forgiveness, I believe we will reap incredible fruit in the future!

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