So, we work out our bodies and our minds so that we look great physically and stay sharp mentally; but what about the other two, much more important muscles, the heart and the will? Oh, didn’t realize that these are muscles that have to be worked out in order to be optimal? Why is that do you think? Is it because in our current cultural condition we are much more consumed with our appearances than our good deeds? Probably. But I’m going to contend here for a new need for Cultural Revolution, one with a greater emphasis on our character and caring as opposed to our current obsession with aesthetics and knowledge. I know, this coming from a woman who is very aesthetically driven! But we really tend to place way too much importance on looks and intellect; not that they aren’t wonderful things to possess, but those are not the things that make us great and they are not what our world needs more of right now, as evidenced by the rise in violence, discourse, distrust, hate crimes, civil unrest, uncontrollable outbursts, road rage, random shootings, etc…etc…etc… something has got to change and fast!
So, I was thinking we could start with two things we can actually do something about! Ha! Imagine? I can, because I have personally been working-out these two forgotten muscle groups for some time now and as of late, with some urgency and with more weight. And, as with everything else, before you can give advice you must first work it out in your own life and with a certain amount of results to report, otherwise you’re just blowing smoke – another thing we don’t need more of in this world. (from cigarettes and fires that is ;))
First, before delving into the mechanics of working out your heart and will in your life, it’s important to point out the fact that we are co-creators in this world. Here is where I explain how God has given us the abilityand responsibilityto share in the creation of this world. This disclaimer I make for all of you who are still under the delusion that we have not been created and that what we do has no bearing on what befalls our world. I believe that since God created us “Imago Dei” or “In His Image” (and that does not mean in appearance it means with some of the same attributes) that we share in the responsibility of all creation in the world. One of the attributes God bestowed upon us is ourability to CREATE! We create with words, actions, emotions, even imaginings. So with that in mind, it is obvious that if we don’t learn how to work out our hearts and wills in a way that benefits not just ourselves & those we love but the whole world around us then we will continue to fall farther and farther from truth and love; the two most important things that we can not only possess but give and are in desperate need of!
So how does this flesh out? First of all, we are not victims of circumstance, rather we are creatingourselves moment by moment via our responsesto what happens to us! How we respond to what life throws our way demonstrates to ourselves, God and to others who we are. The choices we make in life directly affect outcomes on all levels. We need strength of heart and will in order to make the best choices.
Here are some examples of how to work out your heart and your will daily for maximum results.
To Work Out Your Heart:
- Begin each day with an attitude of gratitude. Go through each and every thing that you are grateful for; from breath in your lungs to a roof over your head to all the people in your life that love you and that you get the opportunity to show love to. When I was going through one of the worst times in my adult life my then pastor’s wife warned me of the dangers of “feeling sorry for myself”, what I call ‘licking your wounds syndrome’. The best way NOT to fall victim to feeling like a victim is to inventory everything you can be grateful for and thank God for those things and move on! It also helps you to not be an angry person!!!
- Practice the art of self-denial. This is a very powerful one! We are so privileged and spoiled in America, we are used to just getting whatever we want whenever we want but that just makes us complete jerks. Start denying yourself small pleasures and then build up to larger things. Like start with denying yourself dessert and then move up to costly indulgences. Guaranteed the others in your life will be happier around you when you choose to deny yourself!
- Be others-centric instead of self-centered! The greatest killer of your heart is self! You cannot love others if you are always putting yourself and your interests above theirs. Our hearts should be put into practice on others: their needs, interests, cares, burdens, joys, etc.
- Always be suspicious of yourself and your motives! Humans are the great pretenders, we lie to everyone but mostly we lie to ourselves to try to feel better about ourselves. Bad move! Socrates said, “The un-examined life is not worth living.” So explore your motives and make adjustments daily. Become more about placing others first and yourself last.
To Work Out Your Will:
- Never underestimate the power of the human will. One of the most amazing free forces in the universe is our will. It can trump our fleshly needs (like food and water), our emotions, our physiology, our intellect, our logic, our perceptions and even our morality or desires! We can will ourselves to do or be almost anything! So, imagine if this force never goes unchecked! Scary, really! (Just think, D. Trump)
- Be mindful of all of your choices and decisions. Sometimes impulse can be exciting, romantic, magical, and even, in some instances, the best choice. However, we really should be mindful of all that we do and say at all times. Follow out everything to its logical end BEFORE just acting out.
- Resist cravings! And I’m not just talking food here. Go back to the “practice the art of self-denial” for this one. Start small and continue to strengthen your ability to resist what your flesh, emotions, thoughts and others influences want you to do. RESIST! It is very powerful and smart. Whatever we feed ends up being our master! Don’t let anything or anyone have control over you except for God. He is ultimately the only One who actually cares more for us than we do ourselves!
- Set strict limitations on yourself. Self-imposed limits keep us within boundaries that we can decide upon. If you can will yourself TO DO something then you can will yourself NOT to do something!
- Do all that you do with purpose & care. Whether it is just walking down the street or writing the next great American novel, be purposeful. In relationships, in conversation, in activities, whatever – don’t be a person whose response always seems to be “whatever”. Work out your will by concentrating on all that you do and say and think and make sure that it passes the purpose and care test. Does what you are about to do or say mean something and what? Does what you are about to do or say show that you care? If you answer, “Not really” to either one of those questions than don’t do or say it! It’s just that simple. Never act out of fear, or hate, a displaced passion, without concern, out of temptation, purely reactionary or “just because”!
The following quote is one of my personal favs! It is so powerful in fact that the late, great Nelson Mandela used it in his inauguration speech! Oh, and I used it in my first novel, Ju’stice.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson
In summation, it is incumbent for us all to realize that we are powerful. God has given us hearts, minds, spirits and wills that can either create or destroy by even the slightest of moves. This should be enough to motivate us to be more loving, mindful and purposeful about all that we do, but look around you and you’ll see that it isn’t. We very rarely make decisions out of logic, truth and unconditional love. We need to condition our hearts and wills to use our power for good and for the good of all.
Be blessed, be kind, be forgiving, be an example, be strong, be thoughtful, be courageous, be patient, be more selfless, be humble, be considerate, be encouraging and uplifting, be honest, be trustworthy and always be hopeful! Never give up, never give in, never loose faith and endure through hard times so that you can encourage others in their hardships and struggles! If you heed these directives than you will experience a power unlike any other, the power that comes from working out those two most important and yet largely undeveloped, magnificent muscles.
Love til it hurts! -ck