Sunday, May 18, 2014

Called to Love, Not Compete

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
On stage during the Ronnie Coleman Classic.
Last week I competed in my fifth fitness show, a competition where athletes are compared according to muscular physique and overall attractiveness. The division I compete in, called “Bikini,” is the newest division to these bodybuilding shows, and often compared to a beauty pageant. I like to say it’s a beauty pageant for girls who lift weights rather than girls who run.

In all five of my fitness shows, I have been disappointed with my placement. After months of killing it in the gym, sacrificing weekends, eating saltless fish and endlessly explaining to friends and family what the heck I’m training for, I can’t help but feel a little disenchanted with losing. Rejection is a tough beast to tackle — especially five times in a row.

I keep getting this nauseating feeling .... This is it? This is what I’ve been training for? … Did I miss something?

Fortunately, God is faithful. He has placed encouraging people in my life to remind me why I train hard physically and spiritually. I have to remember why I started training for fitness shows in the first place. My motivation and goals may not be the norm … like training to win a local show, take top 2 or 3 at nationals, and then be rewarded a pro card, going on to be a sponsored athlete and shoot scandalous yet sexy advertisements for whey protein in my booty-bearing Nike shorts.

My husband and I are all hugs with our friends from the gym after finals.
I’d still be sitting there with a trophy and pro card, saying, “Uh, so what can I do with this lil doo-hickey again? Do I get a free gym membership?”

For me, the fitness shows were a pit stop on my journey to get fit from the inside out. 

Sure, they have helped me set a hard goal to achieve a certain level of fitness at an appointed time, but they are not the mountaintops for which I’ve been striving. I’ve been caught up in the hype of being on stage, performing for my own glory instead of staying true to why I started … for God’s glory.

Prejudging at the Europa Supershow.
The past two weeks have been a good measure of my trust in God and more importantly, his patience with me. I’ve been convicted of drawing my worth from what other people think about me and trusting myself to perform well enough in everything I do, that I can make people like me … that I can make people want to exalt me.

What I need to fall back on (and what I’ve been reminded of after losing again) is that every time I’m exalted, God slips into the background. But every time, I’m on my knees, God receives the glory.

You see, we have to understand that we all have a calling on our life, and those who honor God with that calling, he will honor (1 Samuel 2:30). Once I understood that my value as a fitness trainer is not defined by whether or not I win a fitness competition, my worldview changed. I don’t want to live my life well for the betterment of my self, but I want to help others live well (1 Corinthians 10).

Honoring the calling God’s given me involves enriching other people’s lives by them just being around me. 

People should be brighter, happier, full of life, just being in our company because we are so saturated in God’s presence.

What I’ve come to realize is that these shows have had a tendency to steal my joy and make me move out from underneath God’s covering. If there’s still a place for these competitions in my efforts to honor God with my calling, I’m totally open to it, but I’m not going to purposefully train for a show just to compete and compare myself to others. I’m going to train because my body does not belong to me. It belongs to God, which means I need to work my butt off to keep it clean and in prime condition.
“Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19, The Message) 
Everyone has a ministry, a message and a mission, and for some reason, God revolves those elements around fitness and the body for me. 

Today, it’s relatively easy to see how God is working all things out for my blessing. ... Not everyday is as clear. Some days I feel frustrated and tired and sore, and I may even question God. But instead of comparing myself with those around me or the other trap — comparing myself to what I think I should be — I’m choosing to do three things with my calling. I’m going to trust God steadily, hope fervently, and love extravagantly. Everyday is a journey, and the closer I get to God, the clearer it becomes to me of who I am.

If you or someone you know struggles with getting fit from the inside out, consider contacting me for fitness/nutrition consulting. If you're in the DFW area, stop by one of my classes at Rob's FitnessGranite Park or Orangetheory. If you're a girl, and you like to have fun, consider booking your next party with me. These and other services are provided by Amber Michelle Fit, LLC.

1 comment:

  1. Basheerah spent her reigning year traveling the country promoting Healthy Living through the Arts. A year later, she graduated from the University of Oklahoma, with honors, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and in 2001, a Master’s Degree in Organizational Development.

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