Written By Amy Sheldon, Courageous Girls mama and co-leader
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
For over 8 years, I had the pleasure of working as a fitness instructor and encouraging women to chase their health goals, regardless of their fitness level. One of my favorite quotes is “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” If we don’t fight through the discomfort that comes with the challenge, we do not experience the joy of the growth.
Similar to facing physical discomfort, our spiritual muscles also grow as we face hardships. We learn that our strength is found in the Lord. Looking back on seasons burdened by obstacles allows me to celebrate how God uses them to transform and forever change me. This past year has been no exception!
As we navigated the challenges of a global pandemic, I see three ways God has been shaping my spiritual muscles:
- Removing distractions
- Reminding me of His truth
- Redeeming the bad for good.
First, God gave me the Removal of distractions to reveal areas of personal growth in my life.
Like many of you (especially in times of stress), I love a good project list and am very good at staying busy. It feels good to cross something off of the list! God has graciously been showing me that the lists, the “doing” and the pursuit of productivity can be a large part of my self-worth and value.
As shut-downs and quarantining became our new reality, I found my comfort zone being challenged. As my children (6th and 3rd graders) began online schooling and my job shifted to working remotely, I found myself wrestling with the loss of identity. Normal opportunities for community and connection were also stripped away. However, it was through the stripping away of my normal busyness that God reminded me that the remaining relationships of my family were the ones He wanted to deepen the most.
God has also used this time to Remind me of His truth.
In Him, I lack nothing (Phil 4:19), am chosen (Eph 1:4) and am redeemed (Col 1:14). With this as my foundation, I’ve found courage to pursue these relationships, trusting that He has equipped me specifically.
In all honesty and vulnerability, I had not made these relationships my first priority out of fear of not being enough. This awareness has come in the time given to process it. God reminds me that there are no boxes to check off, only a slowing down to pour into my people. It’s not always easy or affirming, but I am deeply grateful to be given a chance to grow in this area.
What does this look like? Sometimes it’s choosing a walk with my husband rather than bike boot camp. Playing catch with my son rather than the laundry pile. Catching up with my daughter rather than a house project. I’m learning that deepening these connections does not require extravagance and is not without sliding backwards. However, as I hold onto God’s truth, He provides gentle reminders that my identity is in Him and I have strength to try again.
Within the removal and reminding, I also see God’s work to Redeem this season.
In the pursuit of these deeper connections, I’ve been given the gift of renewed relationship with Him. He has challenged me to seek Him, trusting that He is working all things out for good (Rom 8:28). We are called to have courage in Him and He moves the mountains.
Reflecting on the lessons of this past year has given me the opportunity to celebrate the growth found in the challenges, to live courageously and cling to His promises as He leads the way.