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Spiritual Training Cycle: Presence (wk. 7/13)

I love coaching people through their first CrossFit workout. First, I must get them over the anxiety that comes with showing up to a new place for the first time. I’ll get them signed into our athlete management software and officially checked into class. I’ll show them little things like where they can put their bag and where the equipment is located. Then we get into the workout. Now I get to see their mental fortitude, their movement patterns, and how they respond to various exercises. It’s all about opportunities to grow. After the workout, I’ll give them a fist bump and a little encouragement. At this point, most first-timers ask the same basic question, “How do I get better?” The answer is simple – spend quality time in the gym doing quality work. The answer is persistence.

Persistence is not just consistency. You need consistency because consistency is the precursor to intensity. But persistence is something more. It’s consistency in the face of adversity. Adversities like soreness or illness or all the little challenges life throws your way. You must persist in the journey of fitness otherwise you’ll fall victim to only training when you feel like it, which is proof that fitness is not a priority. You also need persistence when you work out. When you go one more rep or one more round or knock out one more quality strength session you are proving to yourself that you have capacity. Persistence is staying the course in spite of opposition.

Persistence is vital to our spiritual lives as well, especially when engaging in the spiritual exercise of stillness. We define stillness as a quiet body, a slow mind, an open spirit, and a focus on God. Stillness is the absence of movement. This spiritual exercise has been used for thousands of years to create space to connect with God. Think of stillness as a spiritual pause button in your life. Now, most of us can probably be still for a few minutes. That is, until the phone buzzes or the boss texts or the school nurse calls. Without realizing it, stillness can quickly evaporate in exchange for busyness. You get so focused on accomplishing all the tasks, taking care of all the needs, or providing for yourself and your family that you lose your connection to God. In life we must learn spiritual persistence – staying the course in spite of opposition.

So how do we do that? By learning to discover and recover stillness throughout our day. First and foremost, you should start your day with stillness. Spend the first ten minutes of your day with God. It makes a huge difference! Then throughout the day look for ways to discover stillness by taking a brief pause before you do the next thing. Take a pause in your car when you get home from work (or in your home office) and let your connection with God prepare you for a great evening with family or friends. Take a pause after you finish that Pulitzer Prize winning email before you start paying bills or shopping for cars. Program rest in the transitions of your day.

Sometimes we need to recover the best version of ourselves with stillness. Take a pause during a conflict and ask God to help you find a resolution. When you’ve made some poor decisions let stillness redirect you to better ones. Use stillness to silence the negative self-talk in your brain and allow you to see who you are in God’s eyes.

Stillness is a seemingly simple spiritual exercise. Yet at the speed life moves it can be hard to engage in it. Don’t miss the magical moments with God in exchange for the busyness of the world. To be still, you need more than just consistency. You need persistence.

Questions for Reflection:

If you were just going to hang out with God, what would that look like?

Where do you need more stillness in your life?

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