I recently attended a benefit concert with my daughter. She was checking out a modern dance company, and I tagged along. One of the dance numbers was a ballet solo. The ballerina looked like a body builder. Her muscles were so defined, I was distracted from her performance. I asked my daughter about it afterward.
“Oh, Mom,” she said, “all ballet dancers look like that. You just can’t tell because they’re usually wearing tights.”
I questioned her further as to why dancers from other genres—tap, jazz, and contemporary—aren’t as buff as their ballerina counterparts. She explained that ballet requires a great deal of muscle control due to the very precise nature of movement in ballet. Hence, the high level of muscle definition.
The dancer got me thinking about my own spiritual muscle tone. I face a thousand different challenges to my walk every day.
Am I fit—or am I flabby?
Am I stretchy or tight?
How are my muscles at:
- Holding back a critical thought or comment
- Exercising self-control, especially my eating habits
- Dying to self by setting my schedule aside for someone else
- Moving out of my comfort zone
Miss Christa, one of my daughter’s ballet teachers, is infamous for her rigorous barre work. Repetitive. Tiring. Vital for muscle memory and training. Ballet is not for the faint of heart. Sore muscles and aching feet are part of the gig.
Spiritual training inspires similar groans. Yet, like Miss Christa’s class, training brings results, Misty Copeland-like muscles, and the ability to make the difficult look easy.
Here are a few tips, courtesy of Miss Christa.
Have a Plan
Miss Christa does nothing without a plan. What muscle do you want to target? For me, it’s positivity. My plan touches thoughts, words, and attitudes. Stop the negative thinking from gaining control. Keep the positive in the spotlight.
Focus on Today
Live in the present. Don’t get overwhelmed by tomorrow, next week, or next year. Focus on today’s class and work that muscle. This minute. Right now.
Build Muscle Memory
Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. One day at a time. Feel the burn.
Classmates Make the Work Bearable
All of us want to grow spiritually, and we all have our weak areas. Together, we encourage and strengthen one another. So, go to class. Hang out with other believers who are training too. Share stories and hold each other accountable.
Step up to the spiritual barre and get your plié on. Soon you’ll be sporting spiritual muscles that will carry you through any challenge with a flying leap. Psalm 38:11-12 says, “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.” The soreness and discipline of training will become effortless obedience as you dance before Him in praise.
In what areas is your muscle memory strong?
What’s one muscle that’s flabby spiritually?
What’s your plan?
Of what do you need to be watchful?
What might distract you from your plan?
Who would be a good classmate?