Say this out loud..
"I am a cyclist."
Now repeat it again. And again.
The gal leading the virtual cycling class made it look so easy. She's spitting encouragement the entire 40 minutes, seemingly effortlessly, while I'm out here with a face looking like a cherry and my heart rate almost at its max, huffing and puffing, trying not to keel over. I'm not even kidding guys, she was barely breaking a sweat.
I'm a cyclist, all right. If my thoughts were directly relational to how I was feeling, it surely wouldn't have been that I am a cyclist.
I can barely breathe. My legs might fall off. How much longer is this? Can we have a water break yet? How is she talking right now? Those thoughts would have been more like it.
However, the longer the class went on, the more encouragement she spoke, the better I felt, the more I pushed myself. The minutes went by, and I survived.
"You can do this. Make your hard days hard, and your easy days easy. We're all going to come across mountains in our lives, we just have to keep climbing and keep going until we reach the top. Usually, when we get to the top of one mountain, we come to another bigger one, not too far in the distance. You get stronger with each hill." Was I in on a motivational class or a workout?
That day, it happened to be both. I was reminded of something during that 40 minute session. Our mind plays such a powerful role in our daily lives.
Whether we believe we can or can't do something, we're right. If we convince ourselves we aren't smart enough, aren't good enough, aren't strong enough, aren't whatever enough.. we've already lost the battle because what you tell yourself is what you will come to believe.
That class would have been easy to give up and be done when I got tired. But every word out of the leader's mouth was encouragement. You got this. Keep going. Don't give up now.
There was a time last week I didn't think I could push myself to lift the bar one more time, but guess what? When you have someone there encouraging you, pushing you past what you had yourself convinced you could do, you keep going. You might feel like you have no strength left, but you have someone in your corner, telling you that you got it. Just one more. They see something inside you that you don't, and they know you can do it.. and you do.
Just like the leader of the class, a trainer in the gym, a teacher in the classroom, a friend, a parent, a sibling, your boss at work.. we have people in our lives that believe in us, encourage us to dream big and push us beyond our comfort zone. They see the potential, they know we can do it, they see something inside of us that others might not, that we might not even see.
You might hear the positivity of others, or you might not. Maybe you're surrounded by a sea of negativity. That doesn't have to be how you think, though. It might be harder to stand up and be a light to the situation, but you can do it, and it's so important to overcome those negative thoughts.
We come to believe what we focus on. Thoughts can make or break you. If you speak positively to yourself, you'll likely have days that are more optimistic. If you speak and believe negatively about yourself, you'll find yourself focusing on all the bad.
We have the power to choose our thoughts. Not that they're always easy to control. It will be a choice we have to make over and over again daily.
There was a time last year when I went through a period of pretty heavy anxiety. I could barely drive 20 minutes without becoming super anxious. Sitting through church was a chore, even though I wanted nothing more than to be there, my palms would sweat and I couldn't sit still.
The more I thought about it, the worse it got. What was I thinking about? What was I focusing on?
I changed my thought patterns, I came to understand on a deeper level who God is, what He thinks of me, and what He wants for my life.
It wasn't easy. It's not easy to change patterns that we have become comfortable with. There are times I still do experience it, but I know that when I do, it's up to me and my thoughts. I can let it continue to control how I'm feeling, or I can focus on what I know to be true.
He doesn't want us to be anxious, to feel unlovable, unloved, insecure, fearful, discouraged, hurt, empty, lonely, unsatisfied, depressed. He wants us to know and understand how loved we are. How He has such great plans for us, if only we will trust in Him. He wants us to see ourselves as He sees us, and to believe it with our whole hearts.
Yes, we fail Him. That doesn't mean we're failures. Yes, we fall, we lose sight of Him, we push Him away, we do things we know are wrong, we say things we don't mean, we go through times where we begin to doubt His goodness. We're all human and we all make mistakes. He doesn't want us to believe the lie that what we've done, what we've said, the places we've been are too much for Him.. that He couldn't forgive us or love us through whatever we've been through. He will.
As you're going through your day today, see where your mind wanders. If you find yourself battling thoughts of doubt, fear, judgement, anxiety, or any negative thoughts of how you see yourself come into your mind.. try to switch those thoughts.
You are valuable. You are loved. You are forgiven. You are chosen. You're fearfully and wonderfully made. God has a great plan for you. You are strong. You are beautiful.
I don't know about you, but I'm hanging on to every word He says. And it's on a loop. Day after day.