It’s no secret that I love to exercise. I love how it clears my head. I love how it enables my body to keep up to the demands I place on it. I love how it makes me feel. Exercise is a blessing for me, not a burden, or a chore, or something that I have to do. Rather, it’s something I get to do. My goal is to help foster that belief in others. Friends and family and clients acknowledge this love of mine, and my reputation precedes me. They refer to me as the “fitness lady” and I have become that girl. I liken it to when parishioners see their pastor in the grocery store and give a bunch of excuses as to why they haven’t been in church. Clients see me and start making excuses for why they haven’t exercised, or try to explain away the food choices in their cart. I’ve also seen friends in a restaurant eating and drinking, and they duck under the table or quickly cover their food with the napkins. That’s okay with me. I have a reputation to live up to. As a trainer, that’s important. Establishing a brand is important. During a recent conference call, my team leader posed the question, “If you were to ask people to define you in three words, what would they say?”. I thought that if exercise, fitness or healthy were in the top three, I was doing a good job at demonstrating the brand I want to portray.
Then I thought some more. That’s not my only job. That’s not even my most important job. If I were to ask other people to define me in three words - people who know me from church, or from my kids’ school, or from the neighborhood - what would they say? They only know me by my actions. They haven’t been in a class of mine. They aren’t clients of mine. They don’t follow me on Facebook. All they have to go on are my actions. What brand am I portraying to them? Is what I want them to think of me, actually what they think of me? I want to demonstrate God’s love, to let them know that I am different. I am a redeemed child of God, living in His grace. Do they see that in me?
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. Matthew 5:13
Salt is a lesser ingredient in most recipes, but powerful. A little bit permeates its way through the whole batch and is noticeable if missing. Am I salty? And not the kind of salty that I become after a great run or SPIN class, but are my actions like that of someone who is trying to preserve this world and the people in it? Is my absence noted, or rather, the work that I am intended to do but don't, missed? If I am the only light that my neighbor witnesses on any given day, do I shine, or am I dim and tasteless? Are my actions noted as different? In Romans, God tells us,
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Then the Spirit challenged me to take that question farther – beyond my distant family, friends, acquaintances or neighbors – to my husband and to my kids. If I asked them what three words defined me, what would they say? Whoa. This just got real. It’s easy to put on a smiling face for your friends, clients, neighbors and distant family. I am good at pretending that everything is okay, even when it’s not, because that’s my job as a trainer. I have to be put together. I cannot be the needy one at work. But how often do I then let the ones I love the most see my “mean face”, as my son likes to call it. Am I as thoughtful about demonstrating my brand as a child of God to my family? Do they see Jesus when they see me? Do I expect them to forgive me and love me anyway, justifying my propensity to be quick to get angry, impatience, harsh words or lack of motivation for them?
Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife. Proverbs 21:9
The more I am in God’s Word – reading it, writing it down, purposefully living it out – the more my brand is reflecting what I want to portray. And it’s no longer work. It’s genuine fruits of faith being reflected by the renewing of my mind and spirit by the Word. I challenge you to ask your family, friends, co-workers or neighbors what three words they would use to define you. It may not be what you expect.
Dear Lord, I ask you to renew in me a pure heart. Help me to be an ambassador for you to my family, neighbors, friends and acquaintances. Let my brand be for you, be genuine, be real, be a reflection of the talents and skills you’ve given me. Sustain me. Enable me to live each day for you; the day that you have laid out for me, not one led by my own agenda. Forgive me when I do not seek you first and discern your will for me. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.