Identity – Stand for Something Fall for Anything

Identity – Stand for Something Fall for Anything

When it comes to staying up-to-date I have a propensity to be a little behind the eight ball. I find it funny actually. In high school it was a bit of running joke, and to this day I still find myself playing catch up with modern events. Case and point I am finally reading the Harry Potter series and it is delightful. As far as this post is concerned I am finally sharing my observations about the past election…

In college I remember going with my Dad to meet his uncle, Uncle Mike. It was a really cool time to get to hear from someone who’s lived many years and has had so much life experience. To this day he said something that has always stood out to me, “stand for something, or fall for anything”. I encourage you to ponder these words as you continue to read.  

I’ll be honest I am not the most politically savvy person on the planet, but this past election has intrigued me much like it’s intrigued everyone. I can’t say I voted for either party, but I can say I wasn’t as shocked as I thought I would be when I woke up Wednesday morning. In fact my first reaction at 4:30am was to open my bible, and pray for my nation and for our leaders. As the week carried on I heard so many tragic and appalling stories in regards to both Trump and Anti-Trump events. While I could feel a whole realm of emotions I rather have chosen to take a step back and observe what is going on. 

I have seen a lot of great messages about taking the time to understand where the other side is coming from. I agree, understanding is far greater than reacting. For me, I understand there is immense concern plaguing many people. I understand I am writing this as a white male who does not experience discrimination on a daily basis. Yet I understand it is my responsibility to speak love into the lives of those who are. What truly hits home with me is my understanding of people in our nation acting out, and revealing an identity and faith in something broken.

Identity is powerful, it shapes our actions and our beliefs. As I continue to ponder what identity means I also have examined the state of our nation. Truth be told we are continuing to move towards an agonistic culture. Self is becoming far greater than anything else, and even charitable deeds are often to help one feel good or to look good in front of others. Sadly many have become apathetic towards God. The all too popular question, “if there is a God well then why do bad things happen,” and people claiming christianity treating their fellow man poorly has disillusioned so many. These factors and many others contribute to such a lack of solid identity. Whether admitted or not, dependence is often placed in self and as a result when self falters people struggle to find their way. 

I feel as if many people during Tuesday night discovered their faith was not placed in something actually reliant. Saturday Night Live captured this with their opening sketch revealing the sentiment of many voters during election night. While funny it was also sadly true, and the childishness being displayed by both sides is, for lack of a better term, heart breaking. So many people do not have a solid identity, and so many people don’t even understand their identity. As a result fear is able to creep in, and this fear is given a foothold when people come to the stark realization that the very thing they believed in is not as dependable as they once assumed. 

But here’s the cool thing, something I’ve picked up from my dad: the opposite of fear is faith

As a disciple of Christ I see these reactions and like I said it breaks my heart. Not out of fear, but out of knowing this world, this nation, needs Christ. Our identities have been messed up for so long, even many christians receive their identity from something other than Christ.

I would like to amend the opening quote with a twist “Stay rooted in Christ or fall for anything”. I find as my identity continues to become more entrenched in my belief of the gospel and what it says I am becoming more passionate about simply loving others. With this passion I find opportunities to step outside of myself and think how my thoughts shift. To paraphrase Dallas Willard, it is no longer about doing what Christ did but becoming who Christ was.

Yes fear is powerful, it is scary, it blinds us to what is going on, and drives us towards acting out in selfishness, contempt, and anger. When one lacks a solid identity fear is left to reign in their heart. Yes fear is powerful, but Christ is even more powerful, and as you learn with me what it means to have our identity rooted in Him your paradigm will change. You will find out how faith in Christ can combat fear far greater than any other way you could imagine. 

All of a sudden this series I was planning on writing has taken quite the unexpected turn from what I had originally intended. But you know what? I am perfectly okay with this. 

For my brothers and sisters in Christ I encourage you to continually entrench your identity in Him and in the truth He speaks through the Gospel. For apart from Christ we can do nothing. God calls us to complete dependence upon Him, and this dependence starts by making sure He is the one who gives us our identity.

For those of you possibly disregarding what I have said I simply ask for you to bear with me. Don’t write me off just yet. This series I have begun writing is going to get a whole lot more interesting. 

– Dave

Sifting for Gold: Becoming a Wiser Consumer of Health and Fitness

Sifting for Gold: Becoming a Wiser Consumer of Health and Fitness

I used to find annoyed when people spoke of theory. To me I thought it was pointless and wanted cold hard facts. Either do this or do that. However, I’ve since realized that there rarely is anything that is truly a cold hard fact. There is almost always a gray area, much of what we know is based on many unproven theories, and this couldn’t be more true for the fitness industry. 

A lot of voices will use absolutes to get their messages across. Some examples of these messages are: “never do cardio if you want to build muscle”; or “stretching will ruin your performance”. Even in the food industry we hear absolutes like: “never eat sugar”. Now, if all we do is abide by these absolutes, we will soon find ourselves acting the proverbial dog chasing its tail. 

The first thing to know as a consumer is the importance of reading with a critical eye. There is always something we can learn and there is always something worth disregarding.

I’ve learned that the best answer I can lend when asked for assistance is, “it depends”.  

I get asked questions like, “should I eat 6 meals vs. 3?”, “do I stretch before or after exercise?”, and, “Who wins in a fight between Jason Bourne and James Bond?”. The answer to all of these is “It depends”. 

In seeking answers it is important to provide slightly more specifics towards the situation. For instance, as a trainer, I am often working during other people’s lunch breaks. I find that eating 6 meals a day is a lot more conducive towards my lifestyle than 3 big meals. Other people might be different.

When seeking answers we must remember to some extent everyone is different. And as we continue to learn information we must also continue to understand who we are and our situation in life. 

An acronym I find most helpful for this is A.M.A. Or: absorb, modify, and apply. We absorb the information presented, we modify it towards our situation and we apply it to our lives. 

I liken this process to sifting for gold. Sometimes when reading an article there might just be a lot of sand and dirt that distract us from what we truly want to find. 

This process of filtering, while it may take time, will prove to very useful towards helping us find what may actually personally benefit us. 

I’ll admit, as educators, sometimes it’s easiest to communicate using absolutes, because we avoid the million rabbit trails that make up the complexity of individuality and the human body. This is why as consumers we mustn’t take everything at face value, but rather always come to new information with a critical eye. 

– Dave

The Plight of Rest – Quit Trying so Hard

The Plight of Rest – Quit Trying so Hard

I’m pretty sure we’ve all been there. We wake up in the middle of the night, and we just can’t fall back asleep no matter how hard we try. Or even just as bad, our body tells us we’re tired but then we lay in bed tossing and turning with sleep as just a distant memory. It’s frustrating and disheartening when that moment hits, it’s the time when we should be at our most relaxed and instead our physiology is as stressed out as ever. 

Recently, I’ve been using an app called Headspace. In short, it’s a guided meditation, 10 minutes a day. I’ve always wanted to be better with my relationship with my thoughts. Between the fact that I have a million thoughts in my head going a million miles per hour, and my natural impulsiveness, it is hard for me to just let myself be. The minute I relax I catch another thought zooming by and I go after it like a dog chasing a car. 

This app has helped immensely in teaching me simply to relate to my thoughts. To have a focus on my surroundings while also letting my thoughts pass me by and to just sit there and enjoy them. Through such a relationship I’ve gained better clarity, I’m able to think better, and during my daily quiet time I feel myself able to open up and become more readily available to simply listen to what God might be trying to tell me. 

In this guided meditation, a fine British chap named Andy shares a secret to rest so simple it is often overlooked. When it comes to times that we should relax, whether it be sleep, a day off, or even just rest, we try too hard. Let that sink in for a moment. We try too hard to rest. Kind of funny, but it’s true. 

The times we fall asleep are often the ones where our head just hits the pillow, nothing else.

It’s the hardest thing for us. To simply let go, and let be. I’m not about to go all Beatles on you and whisper the words of Mother Mary. In Matthew 11, Jesus’ only command for rest is that we simply come. That’s it. And somewhere along the lines we’ve turned this into a “To Do” list. I mean honestly, even on my day off I find a way to make a to do list. 

Along with this, the other issue becomes the struggle of mindlessness. Some of us are really good at being mindless. Sometimes when I come home after a long day I just want to turn my brain off and watch tv. Yet this is not true rest. 

When working with athletes and I tell them they have a rest day I still make sure to point out that the best kind of recovery is active recovery. The worst thing you can do on a day off from the gym is to sit around doing nothing. Rather you should still do stretching of some sort or maybe go for a walk. The same goes for our mind. Sure watching tv and mindlessness is nice, but if that’s the way we get our rest then no wonder we never actually feel rested. 

I’ll be honest. In my own life, when I simply come and not turn off my brain but rather just rest; those are the times that I am able to truly sit still and just feel a peace amidst any turmoil. 

Even for myself this paradigm shift requires breaking a few old habits and forming new ones. Yet the lesson is still there. That much like rest for the body entails a balance of being active without effort, so must rest for our whole being be the same. 

– Dave

Understanding the Relationship of Confidence and Humility

Understanding the Relationship of Confidence and Humility

Growing up with a christian background there were things I was taught day in and day out, and things I misunderstood. Such as; humility means not letting yourself get a big head, and for that reason confidence is bad. Granted, this is just a summation, but at the same time it tends to be the lesson I always think back to when remembering how I was taught such lessons. 

All this said, I could be misunderstanding what I was taught, but that’s the point. Humility and confidence are commonly misunderstood. In all honesty, true confidence and humility go hand in hand. 

Humility, as C.S. Lewis is often quoted, is not about thinking less of yourself, it’s about thinking of yourself less. This means in all sense of the word that humility is being aware of our surroundings and of those around us. Being on the lookout of how we can authentically live outside of ourselves and to help others without expecting anything in return. I know there is so much more than this, but we are beyond the point of this post.

True confidence is much the same way. It’s not about having a big head, being boastful, or egotistical. True confidence is an inner strength that gives an individual the opportunity to not worry about themselves. True confidence is a security that we can have so that we may look towards others. 

So really, confidence and humility truly go hand in hand. The security gained from inner confidence allows for others to look towards others as oppose to themselves. They both are entrenched in the fact that we must know who we are, we must understand our own identity and where it rests. Without that we will never truly feel secure. 

That’s it, no anecdotes or gimmicks. I’m not one to beat around the bush. I know this is possibly the shortest post in the world, but they are two concepts worth clarifying. They are both so often misunderstood, and yet when understood they can be powerful. 

– Dave

Choices, Responsibility, and the Road to Growth

Choices, Responsibility, and the Road to Growth

Subway used to have a campaign where a little kid would be told all these things either he has to do or he can’t do. From chores and homework to picking out food at the grocery store. You can’t help but feel the poor little guys exasperation as he has no say in anything. 

He then walks through the doors of a subway, he sees the sandwich maker; lo and behold he is asked what would he like. Of all the things he finally gets to choose what he wants. The whole point of the ad was at Subway you get to choose what you want, you get to have a say in the construction of your sandwich. Such a thought appeals to our innate desire of choice and of control. 

Think about it, how many of us like to be given options, even if they’re terrible it’s still nice to have options. Having options is empowering, who doesn’t like to feel like they have some semblance of control over their lives? Although, I also believe choices are not just empowering they are also powerful. Choices we’ve made and make will shape who we are and we become: later today, tomorrow, and for the future. I think it adds another element to the age old nature versus nurture debate and it can’t be ignored. 

I know I sound like a broken record, I always tell my interns when I repeat something I think it is really important. We can take a wild guess on how important I think the power of choice really is, and it leads us to a scary revelation. 

When we realize how powerful choices are we can begin to comprehend the responsibility we must assume. To quote Spiderman’s Uncle Ben, “With great power comes great responsibility”. 

Let’s be honest when crap hits the fan because of a choice we’ve made it’s no fun taking ownership, and it’s a lot easier to seek recognition when something goes well. Yet, I find that when I own up, take responsibility for all of my actions, because I CHOSE to do something, good or bad, growth happens. Isn’t that the goal? 

Mistakes happen, good things happen, and most of the time we tend to be somewhere in between. Let’s take ownership of who we are because when we assume the responsibility and realize how our choices affect us we can then seek to not just change but to continually become better. Yes it’s easier said than done, but no one ever said it’s impossible. 

– Dave