Wow! 2021…I’m not sure I have the right words to describe the year, but what I do know is that, through all of the ups and downs, ins and outs, confusion and problems solved, I am grateful for so many things. Because of that gratefulness, I can find some peace in knowing that there is hope for the next steps, new endeavors, and new roads, as we move into 2022. We have gone through the year with a bit of a different focus each month, and my hope is that this platform has given something to you that has helped you or served you.
Our December theme was Peace. Google defines peace as freedom from disturbance, tranquility, a friendly greeting, or period in which there is no war or a war has ended. Doesn’t it seem that the world couldn’t lack peace any more though? I’m convinced that we live in unprecedented times, where, if we let the news media, information about COVID19, wars, floods, tornados, and/or mistreatment of people really sink in, we might never leave our houses. I have felt that way so many times…that the world is full of anything but peace, so why be grateful?
If I lived that way, I wouldn’t be living out the life and the path that God has set before me. Ironically, for most themes that were put out there (Joy, Gratitude, Peace, as well as the others), I was challenged on new levels. What I am seeing now, is that when I want to take a new step, my “old ways”, if you will, are challenged. You see…the reason for the themes of each month at Lion and Lamb Fitness are to provide a focus, a real life focus that is driven by the gifts of the Holy Spirit and these gifts are what I know I need to navigate life. For example, during the month of November, when our month focused on gratitude, I had so many reasons to throw my hands up and feel like there was little to be grateful for. New challenges, things that happened to challenge my feeling of gratitude, times that made me want to scream in frustration, rather than in thanksgiving were all put into motion so that I could learn new tools to match new seasons in my life. I found a book called The Gratitude Project: How the Science of Thankfulness Can Rewire Our Brains for Resilience, Optimism, and the Greater Good by Jeremy Adam Smith (Editor), Kira M. Newman (Editor), Jason Marsh (Editor), Dacher Keltner (Editor) that has opened my eyes to so many pieces about how being grateful actually changes how I think, as well as how I can serve the world around me.
I learned that being grateful actually allows me a sense of peace. While I know that to be true, as a result of my faith, science also backs the idea. Science tells us that being grateful helps get the brain ready for being generous. It helps us to better our mental and physical health, relationships, increases happiness and life satisfaction, and helps with feelings of joy, pleasure, enthusiasm, and other positive emotions. In some studies, better sleep was connected with feelings of gratitude…and don’t we all know how important sleep is?
During the month of August, we talked about joy, and I began my reading of a book called The Joy of Movement, by Kelly McGonigal, PhD because I had tripped over a podcast where McGonigal shared this quote, “Movement will give you access to joy that will dramatically improve the quality of your life and help support mental health and meaning and belonging. It’s not a gimmick to get you to exercise so you burn some calories. That’s not what it’s about”. After hearing that, I wanted to learn more about how movement impacted joy, so I grabbed the book. Many of you heard me talk about the idea of collective joy and how joy can transcend groups when we move as a unit, but, then, my thoughts connected to our September theme about community…it all ties together!. The benefits of joy to our health are endless, and so are the benefits of this community. Through the reading of this book (that I still have to finish, by the way), I was challenged to think about joy another way, seeing that joy and contentment were not fleeting feelings like happiness is…they are longstanding gifts that I can rely on, when tough spots in life happen…they do and they will. I learned that it doesn’t have to mean I have to be “happy” through things that hurt, make me sad, or hurt my feelings, BUT I can be content and have an inner joy or an inner peace that can get me through the tough stuff.
Navigating this new life or new space forces me to learn and use a new strategy. It’s the only way to survive the things that are hard for me. In the sermon “Same Levels New Devils”, Pastor Steven Furtick talks about how we can’t rely on old strategies to match new seasons in our lives. He’s right! He talks about how we can’t fix adult problems with teenage tools, that parents don’t raise a 2-year old the same way they raise a teenager. Holy moly…when you put it like that…my thinking changes! Then, that must mean I need to learn new things to battle new issues, to grow, to move forward, and to find out who I really am and what I have been made to do, and, ultimately find peace with who I am meant to become!
BUT…there is so much work involved in that isn’t there? I don’t have time on a regular day to get everything done, so how do I add more in….right?
Well, I found some answers for that too. “I’m Not Ready for This” , a sermon by Holly Furtick, made me really think about so many things. In this sermon she talks about, when times get tough, sometimes, we have to live on what is left. She shares that we may question our purpose when we feel like we don’t have enough to make it. BUT, she shared to keep moving and that miracles happen when you move. At the end of the sermon, Holly shares her thoughts about this Scripture and, WOW, is it relevant to things I go through. There are so many times where I feel like I’m not pouring from a full jar, like I am running on empty, and that peace is nowhere in sight. She shares that if you wait until you feel full to pour, you’ll never pour…you’ll never feel God’s work move through you.
In the Bible, there is a passage in 2 Kings 4 that talks about a widow and her olive oil, which is what this sermon from Holly is about…just for context.
At the end of the day, the quest for peace seems to be a combination of so many pieces, and it involves a lot of moving parts. What I do know is that my desire for a peaceful life is very real and present. When I think back 20 years, I am so grateful for my path…the ups and downs that have led me here, to who I am…my place on my journey to living the best and most peaceful life I can. Here's to a wonderful and peaceful 2022!
“2 Kings 4.” The Message: The New Testament Psalms and Proverbs, NavPress, Colorado Springs, CO, 1998.
ElevationOnline. “Better than Ever: 2021 Year in Review | Elevation Church.” YouTube, YouTube, 26 Dec. 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjyZEvJ_kVY.
ElevationOnline. “I Don't Think I'm Ready for This | Holly Furtick | Elevation Church.” YouTube, YouTube, 7 Feb. 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1df8UJs1MGU&t=2043s.
McGonigal, Kelly. Joy of Movement. Penguin USA, 2021.
Smith, Jeremy Adam, et al. The Gratitude Project: How the Science of Thankfulness Can Rewire Our Brains for Resilience, Optimism, and the Greater Good. New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2020.