Taken by Jonathan on our travels round the Northern Irish Coast.

The *TRUE* Self? Was I ever not true?

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“Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for? (Mark 8:36-37 MSG)

I never noticed that He talks about your “true self” and the “real you”. It hit me today because I was thinking how different I am from even a year ago. Not just in the way I feel and act, but also in the things I want from life. In the past it was *all* about me: my wants, my dreams, me being offended, stressed, hurt, angry – looking for ways to help myself to be and stay happy (and there are times I slip back into this selfish mindset). I was a victim … of myself (despite me happily blaming everyone around me).

The point is, *I* cannot be in control of my happiness apart from submitting my “wants” and “needs” to God. It requires a deeper look at what we think is happiness. You see, the typical expectation is that life *should be* stress-free and we have no troubles (as if we have decided *we* deserve it to be). So what is stress and what are troubles? Things that stop us doing the things *we* want or think we want/need. We get frustrated and stressed because we can’t control the circumstances that come our way – we can’t even control our reactions half the time! 

Stress isn’t an input; circumstances are. Stress is more likely an *output* of our failure to see the bigger picture and see beyond ourselves within given circumstances.  Perhaps stress is also the conflict between the way we currently are and the way we know we should be – after all, we are all just seeking to be more peaceful about life.

There is an easier way than bumping into the same wall over and over again. 

It is His will that I be peaceful and joyful, despite my circumstances – my purpose is not simply about “being happy”, but remaining steadfast in my commitment to my faith, and to loving others whether I am happy, or not. If I think my goal is to be happy – then I have a perfect excuse to avoid difficulties and challenges for my own sake. Perhaps it’s time I sacrificed my ease in order to be of use to others. 

When I start thinking about how “all this will make me feel”, I try to remember someone else – as soon as I take my mind off myself, the stress melts away and I see clearly that what I thought I was losing didn’t really matter compared to how this other person feels. God has my back so I can have yours. Isn’t that a fuller life?

My “true” and “real” self is the person God made me to be – the person who tries to do the right thing without being concerned with how it affects me. The complete opposite of how I used to live when *everything* was about what it would mean for me!

Remember “what you want” might not be what you need. A healthy soul is all I need – the rest is up to God :)

How fit is your soul? Can it last the distance?

Workout of the Day:

1) Think of 3 things you are grateful for today and write them down. If any relate to other people, then personally thank them for the input they have had in your day.

2) If you are angry at anyone – drop it now. Stop worrying about how offended you are, and what you are owed. Forgive them and, if appropriate, remind them that you care more about them than your pride (if it’s not appropriate, then tell God). You are not in a battle with them; you are in a battle with yourself. Being humble always wins you freedom, even from the deepest hurts. See the person under the sin and pray for them.

If you find you are not able to let go of your unforgiveness, bring it to God, or a very close friend. Seek the wisdom and strength to not let the hurt they caused to ruin the rest of your life.

3) Get ready for a new full body workout THIS WEEK :D

Cheers,
Marianne

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12 Responses

  1. Beatatjata says:

    Thankyou marianne for this post. It is so wonderful to read about your faith and you encourage me – body and soul. God bless!

  2. Catherine says:

    Hello Marianne :) I just stumbled across your site this weekend and am really loving it. I like that you have now decided to integrate working out the body as well as the soul. And this post is very relevant to me, i was struggling with this and coming up with these same conclusions last week. Thank you so much for sharing, i think the fitness industry needs more people of God. i lookf forward to your new workout as well!!

  3. adam says:

    Yesterday I entered an Ashtanga vinyasa yoga (Mysore) class at 6:30am. The Mysore way is a personal practice rather than a led class and we all go at our own pace.

    My primary purpose in yoga is to feel. Feel what’s going on emotionally and physically and to find a balance, if there is one to be had.

    In this particular practice, the first thing I noticed was the bevy of incredibly fit, beautiful women in the room. Next I was trying to be perfect, even though I’m fairly new to the practice, I wanted it to look like I’m a seasoned pro. I had shone the spotlight on myself. I wanted all the ladies in the room to fancy me and it would be quite nice if a few of the men did too, just for good measure.

    It was at this moment that I realized the size of the ego that had accompanied me into the room. Could I have been any more important!? The stud, the yoga guru, the Renaissance-man aspects of my ego had all woken up and joined me for practice.

    My ego is there for protection but it has a mind of its own and nothing ever satisfies it, nothing is ever enough.

    It was at this point that I started to breathe, to connect to my breath and to focus my gaze, not on the shapely lycra-clad butt in front of me but into infinity. Before long my ego slipped quietly away. An hour later I had finished my practice, the time had melted as fast as my ago and I was free. Free from all the things I am not: my insecurities, thoughts, fears, wants, desires – that false sense of self. The peace that lies behind those things, is my higher self, higher power, god consciousness or inner-child. Bliss.

    For me, love is an energy. When I connect to that energy I am present, in the moment and free. It’s in this moment when “I am”, god is within me and without and shows me the way.

    When I try and think my way to a solution I am going into my mind for an answer, but it is my mind that is largely the reason for my uncomfortability and disease in the fist place!

    For instance, being of service is estimable and worthy, however if driven by expectation, fear, want or desire I am in danger of starting a crusade, whilst the only person I’m really serving is the ego that hides behind the veil of charity. In listening to god through the stillness of meditation I become one with the universe, to love and be loved, however that is meant to unfold.

  4. Keith says:

    The Message (MSG) rendering uses the radical New Age concept of self, where the Bible is clear that what is at issue is the soul:

    “And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, ‘Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’” https://www.bible.com/bible/1/mrk.8.36-37.kjv

    “Self” is a human psychological concept; “soul” is purely spiritual, and is a complicated discussion. While I’m no expert, I think one thrust of Christ’s teaching was that the self was something that could be changed, or even had to be overcome, for the good of the soul.
    ________________________________________

    That nitpicking aside, only the milder forms of stress result from self-absorption, unless we’re talking about people who are severely disturbed or narcissistic.

    Love of others can bring great stress, if you fear for their welfare or health, or if you watch them suffer a terrible illness or accident. And we feel stress when we love our pets and other animals, and see them suffer. In other words, stress can come from frustration, impotence to help another, or guilt over a terrible mistake that hurt others. Stress from worry, anguish, horror, guilt and heart-breaking sadness come precisely because we care about others. Many or most acts of bravery in war are bound up with trying to save one’s fellows; many suicides happen because someone despairs that they’ve failed those they love, or those who counted on them.

    (By the way, until I saw the Message translation above, I was unaware of it. Having scanned the Message translation, especially its revision of the Lord’s Prayer, it’s a startling document, replete with New Age language. To use a loaded occult phrase like “as above, so below” in the Lord’s Prayer is jolting.)

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Keith.

      When it comes to “the self”, I agree that is the soul. But what is the soul? From what i understand, it is where our thoughts, emotions, mind, and heart reside. The soul can become a slave to the flesh, or it can be renewed by the spirit. The soul itself is not the spirit – they are two different things. When “the self” or Soul become “real” or “true”, i think this verse was referring to the renewal of the mind- just as I expressed my change.

      Another very important thing to consider is the context. And by context, I mean what words mean today and how the Bible is translated to be understood by a particular reader. I believe the Message version was given to me for a reason – in my own context, i was going through a lot of struggles with my faith and was walking a very fine-line between Christianity and New Age “spirituality”. If I had started reading a more “traditional” version, I might not have followed the word as well. So, while you may think the MSG has no value — I beg to differ.

      God has, after all, given us all very unique personalities and He will provide a way for us to step curiously onto a path with Him. In my own journey, these cues have been in very unexpected and “startling” ways. So i am not going to fault the MSG for its message. These days, as I am maturing in my faith, I have begun to reading other versions and have realised that some days a particular wording will strike in a way that another won’t. In fact, within the same week, I will get something different from the same verse within the same version.

      You see, it’s not just words, it’s meaning. And meaning comes from what stirs within the reader.

      “Loaded occult” to you, is someone else’s key to understanding a personal Saviour.

      Stress is very subjective, so what ever that means for you, I won’t argue. It is still some sort of reaction because of an inability to control something that’s happening. I guess that’s why we need to rely on God during all times, so we can put worry at bay and realise we cannot understand the reasons for everything that happens. We naturally hurt when our family, friends or pets hurt. But it’s also what we do with that hurt.

      Thank you for leaving your thoughts. I know a lot of people will relate to what you’ve said – so I value your view-point.

      Cheers,
      Marianne

  5. Shelley says:

    Lovely post!

  6. Rachel says:

    So often we can look at the words and completely miss the meaning, like the pharisees they studied the scriptures and completely missed Jesus!

    The best interpretation we have is Jesus, He shows us what God is really like. There have been things that I cannot get my head around in the bible but I know Him, the word (God’s logic)made flesh. Jesus demonstrated unconditional love, didnt judge but healed and forgave. He loved people where they were at without any agenda.
    I have found the message so helpful at times in conveying the message across. Sometimes we can dismiss things as new age and miss God in these things I know i’ve done the same in the past, thinking those things are of the devil because of our religious traditions and upbringing. For example meditation, which is actually taught in the bible, since leaving the church I have become so much more open to things, thinking for myself and as a result seeing God a whole lot more and thinking on His love for me.

    I am no longer an individual,I am a union. I have lost myself in this love affair, in beholding Him I have found my true self;my one with God self. Andre Rabe

  7. Aino says:

    I have been following you for a short while and I find you very inspiring as a trainer/athlete… but now, you just added a whole new dimension and I felt compelled to thank you for these words of wisdom. So true. So very true. Thank you

  8. Bola says:

    I am so so impressed with this, Marianne. This was the last thing I expected to see when coming to your site tonight.

    Wow. I particularly liked the:
    It is His will that I be peaceful and joyful, despite my circumstances – my purpose is not simply about “being happy”, but remaining steadfast in my commitment to my faith, and to loving others whether I am happy, or not.

    This is fantastic.

  9. Aaron Richmond says:

    How cool to come to your site to refresh myself on what a proper KB swing looks like, only to be refreshed with scripture and a devotional. Praise God for what he’s done in your life and what he will do with you and Jonathan in the fitness community and in the Middle East.

    Will add y’all to my prayer list and try to check in more often than once a year from now on!

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