2015-02-21 17.52.58

Sitting here, steeped in the richness of beauty that is Maui, I cannot help but be in awe of what God has done, is doing, and will do for this us and this great earth.  You see tiny slices of heaven in the way He decorated this Island and majesty in the volcanoes, rainforest and gorgeous turquoise waters.  A true wonder.

For all that God has done for this earth, He has done much much more within us—within me.  The way he can decorate your soul is of far greater beauty than anything we can see.  

I see it now so clearly.  The color of Love within me is bright and beaming and shines through my every pore.  Reminds me of the passage:

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness.” Matthew 6:22-23

My eyes have been shown a new light and it can’t be hidden nor forgotten.   It came at a brilliant moment of clarity that after a week of relaxation, I feel I am ready share openly.

Here it goes…..

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 “What are you so afraid of?” he asked. 

The question caught me blindsided.  Almost immediately, the tears started flowing down my cheeks.  

“He” was Pastor Miles McPherson from The Rock Church in San Diego, CA.  I was with my husband and the Pastor meeting in his office in a brief introduction for the first time.  After 15-minutes of chit-chatting between he and my husband (who had known each other from years ago as young athletes in San Diego) we were heading out to let him get to his second of five sermons he would give that day.   

As we were heading toward the door, he asked what I did for a living?  I told him briefly about my virtual health coaching and the blog I was intending to start (i.e. this one) that would include not just the body (i.e. exercise and nutrition), but having a strong mind and also creating a stronger spirit with God at the center.  I said something like “I’m really scared about it if you would pray for me.”   

Hence, his question.  

I was immediately overwhelmed because the question was more accurately “What am I NOT afraid of?”

I was afraid that I was a fraud.  Afraid that I still didn’t look the part that people would respect.  Afraid that I wouldn’t be good at writing. Afraid that I would put my faith out there and offend people…. or get made fun of…. or not taken seriously.  I was afraid of failing.  Afraid of disappointing God.  Afraid that God had chosen the wrong person for this calling of writing.   Afraid that I was still too heavy and I need to just keep focusing on losing weight first.

This place of fear and insecurity was not new for me, oh no!  But with the tears came such disappointment and shame that this fear bubbling up yet again, in front of my Pastor and husband no less!  Especially since I had been working SO hard trying to change my mindset about my body and really thought I was making some headway! 

The other week on the blog,  I shared what I would call a pivotal moment of my career in health.  What Malcolm Gladwell would call a “Tipping Point.”  After mentally torturing myself and my body to compete in a body building Bikini Contest for the purpose of finally feeling “accomplished” and “good enough” to be in the fitness industry, I was met with the most empty and sad feelings I had ever felt about my body.  What I had expected to happen by getting the “perfect body” was almost the polar opposite of the feelings that I actually had when it was accomplished.  (If you missed it, check out my last blog HERE)

This was what I know for sure as an experience in the wonder of God’s grace in life lessons. Love so richly poured out in the form of tough consequences when we don’t listen to His guidance.  Consequences that certainly get our attention because they’ve just smacked us right in the face, and consequences we need in order to learn the lesson He wants us to.  

 As they say, “When you know better, you do better” and I decided that this experience of the competition was going to propel me to “do better” things for my body and in my practice of teaching others about health. 

I knew I needed to change the way I thought about my body.  I knew there was something not healthy about my thoughts and something overwhelmingly negative about how I saw myself.  This was an epiphany for me because I have largely felt as though I was a very positive and kind person.  But as is often the case, especially in women,  where I am positive, kind and uplifting for others, I was begrudging, judgmental, and harsh on myself.  

Being that I have always been a good student, I naturally set out to learn more about how I can improve my way of thinking.  I began to devour blogs, online articles, magazines and books in search of some wisdom.

I learned a tremendous amount of information from fellow bloggers, notably Jen Comas Keck, Jill Coleman and the rest of the Girls Gone Strong group of women who all had very similar stories to mine of trying for years to “look the part” of something they thought they should be in the fitness industry, only to come out on the other side realizing there is so much more to life and fitness than that.

I also read countless books by authors with incredible insight and acumen.  One very noteworthy example is the book Playing Big by the incredibly smart and talented Tara Mohr.  Tara was the first to introduce me to the concept that we all have what she calls an “Inner Critic” which is the is the voice in our head that is critical, discouraging and keeps us “playing small”. I took it to mean that there was this natural negative side to all of us!  It was a powerful book for me because I realized I clearly was not the only one that had this voice in my head that would discourage me from taking risks in life.  Her booked helped me tremendously in taking more steps to writing this blog, even before I felt completely “prepared enough” to do it. 

These great resources and clear knowledge I was learning from all of these women, I felt were slowly helping me finally learn to love my body and manage my insecurities.  I thought I was making some great headway!

But, it was clear that just by one simple, yet profound question by Pastor Miles that day, I still was dealing daily with my battles of fear, insecurity, body image and some self loathing.  

“What are you so afraid of?”

  Although I mentally had a list a mile long, I of course didn’t say any of those things to Pastor Miles, but did stammer out something about “not knowing if I was going to be good enough or capable enough.”

Miles, with a strong sense of divine intuition, sat us both back down and started trying to get to the bottom of where all these fears had come from.  He gave me a few rounds of questions trying to figure it out:

“Did your parents ever make you feel you were not good enough?”

Oh no, my parents are perhaps the most supportive and loving people I know.

Do you have a learning disability or anything that really holds you back?”

Oh no, I’ve always been a good student, actually. 

“Do you not like the way you look or something?”

Well no, not most of the time.

“When did you first start feeling this way?”

(Without much pause) Since second grade.  

 “Second grade??”

Yes, second grade.

I still remember it vividly.  At eight years old, I was on the playground with two of my best friends.  As a tall girl, I was always a head taller than everyone but I was also pretty curvy, with this bubble booty I have always had!  One of my friends brought up my weight and the fact that she weighed 45 lbs—I weighed 60 lbs.   And.That.Was.It.  

That was the first time I felt huge and the first time I didn’t like that I was so much “bigger” than everyone else.  In a funny way, it was not about my height as I didn’t mind being taller.  It was always about my weight and being heavier, curvier and more noticeable for it all too.  I got teased some, sure, but never really bullied severely.  I became my own bully.  I began desiring to “lose weight” starting in elementary school.

Pastor Miles looked at me and said, “You realize that this is how the devil works right?  He gets inside our heads so early in life that you didn’t even know he was there. Since then, you have been living under this LIE in your head that was planted so very long ago.  A lie you have been passively accepting as your truth because the devil is that good that he preys on the things that will get us the most.”

Wow, I had never thought about it that way. 

This specific LIE of being “too big”  and “not good enough” was not just not just any kind of insecurity— it was THE insecurity from which all others have stemmed.  Was he saying that this lie was not from me or something that created in my head, but it has been implanted by the enemy?  It was not my fault? 

Pastor Miles went on to explain that we actually have the power over the evil one in our thoughts.  It is a power that God gave us but a power we must choose to engage.  To cast out any lies or ways of thinking that is not from God.  To put the evil back where it belongs.

He said what I was enduring my entire life was not a mental battle, but a SPIRITUAL battle!

Then, he and my husband took the time to stand and pray over me and pray out any thoughts of evil, pray out any more lies that I had been passively believing and that my soul might be restored to it’s rightful owner, God.    

As they prayed over me,  I was able to truly surrender my body and spirit to this new awareness and accept the prayer over me.  

All of a sudden, I could feel the physical presence of God within me.  It surfaced as small twitches in my eye.   This physical sensation I have felt several times since, usually while praying, and a gift I am humbled to receive from God.  

[Reflection: I feel that whenever I pray and I feel these eye twitches, God’s presence is doing this to “open the eyes of my heart” so I can see Him and see life through His gracious lens.  It is a miracle and truly extraordinary, if not shocking, to experience. ] 

Later that day, I thought back to all the roads that this LIE of being “too big” had led me down.  

I remembered feeling big in my volleyball outfit and it affecting my play.  Choosing friends growing up that I thought were better than me so I could feel more confident around them.  Choosing bad guy after bad guy to date and expecting them to magically cure my low self-esteem.  To periods of depression, eating disorders, and emotional bursts.  To obsessing about food and thinking about my body literally all-day, every-day for as long as I can remember.  

But on this day, for the first time in a long-time, I felt whole, complete and at peace. It dawned on me that this “inner critic” or negative voice of lies is not actually ME at all. There was no battle between the “bad” version of me and the “good” version of me.

I am good. In fact, I amfearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139) 

Embracing that love and embracing that fact turned on a light inside of me that had never felt so pure and so bright.  This warming love spread through each capillary and nerve.

What was remarkable, was that it all mades sense now—intellectually speaking.  

I “got it”.  More than just an “aha” moment,

I had wisdom.

Each lie in my head had been acting as a brick building up a tall wall that was preventing my mind from fully understanding the depth of love God had for me and thus my ability to embrace the depth of love I have for myself.   

Again, “But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness.  If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Words of Jesus, Matthew 6:23) 

The best part is that this battle was not mine to win.   It is a battle that is Gods.  It can all be changed in a moment—-with a simple prayer.  God has given me the strength all this time, but I just needed awareness and prayer to be able to do something about it.   The same goes for you.

It is not quick fix.  As pervasive as the enemy is, often times I revert back to my old ways of thinking without a blink of an eye.  But that WISDOM I gained that day does not leave me and I am able to choose Faith again.  

It is my choice to either believe the lies and go on living them, or to choose to live by Faith the way God truly made me.  I pray daily that I might see myself clearly the way that God sees me.  I pray that “Thy Word will be a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105)

For those that might be reading this and don’t quite get it, or quite see why it was such a big deal to me, I completely understand your skepticism.  I had been where you might be for over 30 years. There was even a time that I didn’t really believe in evil or the “devil” because I thought we are all responsible for our own sin and it was just our own ‘human nature’.  But that’s exactly what the enemy wanted me to think.  That it was just another thing that I did that wasn’t “good enough.”  He might be smarter and trickier than me, but the Bible says that he doesn’t have more power than me.  

” I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” (Luke 10:19)

On this day, I seized that power.  A true miracle.

But there’s more……..

A week later or so, Pastor Miles went to a big church in Dallas, Texas and delivered a sermon on this exact topic.  If you would like to watch this funny and incredibly gifted pastor give this message, I have attached the link.  (Fast forward to 37:18 for those that don’t want to watch the music)

http://www.daystar.com/ondemand/video/?video=3979777751001#.VMZT-dPDXjc.gmail

You’ll notice toward the end that he actually makes mention of a girl who had been “believing lies since 2nd grade.”  He was talking about me.  

See this was another miracle that God gave me.  He was already using my story through Pastor Miles to help others.  I was humbled by this mention but it made it even more clear that God was calling me to continue expand and tell my story.  That where my mind exists so does countless of others out there.  So I officially stated this blog and had some true Wisdom to share.  

I surrendered my soul, gained wisdom and now understand my true strength in LOVE I have for my body. 

STRONG’her | WISE’her | SURREND’her 

YOUR TURN | JOURNAL 

I would like to challenge you take the time to think about your biggest insecurities and go back in time when those thoughts might have originated.

Some of you may find that the lies just popped-up one day in your innocent little mind.  Others might have a voice or person attached to the lie from a parent, bully, or other real life critic.  Even if the lie has a face and a name doesn’t mean that the lie didn’t come from the enemy.  

I encourage you to think deeply through your life and begin to question—-WHAT IF ALL THIS TIME I’VE BEEN BELIEVING A LIE?   

If you realize you have been believing 1 or 100, you can pray a simple prayer to take your power back. 

“Dear God, 

I command that these thoughts of evil be cast out of my mind in the name of Jesus.  I release my burden of these thoughts to your love and power you, God.  I accept the love You have for me in exchange for this lie I have believed for so long.  I believe that you have given me the power over these lies in my head and that I can exercise this power over them every time I pray in Love and acceptance of your love.  Protect me God and renew me in your strength of love.  Give me a stronger body, mind and soul so I may live our the Greater Purpose you have planned for me.”

I would love to hear from anyone or pray for any one of you that could use some extra prayer!!  Please reply to this email with any prayer requests you have, regarding this topic or otherwise!

In Good Faith,

~Mandi

10 Comments

  • Wow. Thank you for this, Mandi. Your blog and beliefs have been such an inspiration to me. Especially as of late. I’ve definitely had some struggles over the past year with family and work that I’m working very hard to overcome. I feel I’m making good progress but have more work to do. Some of these issues, like you talked about here, had affected me mentally and physically for much longer than I realized. And now I’m learning the roots, how they were indeed lies that I mistook for truths. Your blog today opened my eyes to even more and, like you, I’ve learned I’m not alone. Daily I’ve questioned if I’m good enough and smart enough to follow thorough with my career change. And at times in scared to death to continue. But I realize that I have a bigger purpose here and was meant to do much more. I just need to keep following that part and Gods lead.
    From the day I met you I have always admired you and valued your friendship. Thanks so much for all your doing now and keep it up! I’m listening.

    • Thanks Andi!! Those daily questions are so normal when you are considering a change! I am so glad that this resonated with you and you can see how far back some of these have formed for you. There is new hope every day in God and He will guide you on this path he has chosen for you. Make that choice daily, several times a day, and you will see your obedience to his calling and your trust in Him will pay off is SUCH amazing ways!
      I do recommend the book Playing Big too, even though it is not religiously based I found it very insightful especially with the new career path I was considering. The combination of using that book and spiritually engaging and strengthening yourself will create some incredible shifts in your life!

      Love you and will be praying for you!

  • Funny – so many of my experiences parallel yours. In third grade, it hit me when I was 75 lbs. A generally very muscular, “solid” person, I’ve always been active and fit. I was in gymnastics at that point around 10 hours a week and in school, I was humiliated (HUMILIATED) when I realized I weighed 75 lbs and the other girls weighed like 55. And much like you, the battle began. While I always look at pictures from the past and think “I looked great! I should’ve appreciated it…” never have I appreciated my body in those pictures in the moment. I’ve always felt too big. In dance, my teacher said once “you all have to realize in comparison to the general population, you are small, petite people.” I laughed and rolled my eyes, knowing she was talking to everyone else but me. I was 15 and dancing around 20 hours a week at that time. So many times I try to be thankful for this strong body that has carried me through these 32 years with never more than a little cold or flu, much of which I attribute to my eating and working out habits (which I do more for the physical look than I do for the internal health benefits, let’s be honest), yet the same old thoughts about my thoughts, my calves, and my biceps always creep in. I try to make myself want to be strong and curvy (I have that thigh booty thing going on too), but I secretly want to be rail thin and disappoint myself that I can’t seem to hush the hunger long enough to be anorexic.
    For what it’s worth, I have often times looked at your body and thought it’s beautiful. And truthfully I know that doesn’t fully sink in until the belief internally takes hold in your soul (which it sounds like is happening for you now!) but still thought you should know. Wonderful article!! I liked the prayer and will have to add that to part of my daily prayers too.

    • Wow, Jessica!
      Thank you so much for your response. Yeah, it hit me that if I have felt this way and have been plagued by these thoughts, I’m SURE there are many out there that have too, with very similar stories I see! This awareness of the LIE is so key in helping to choose to live my faith and love for yourself. Praying that prayer is very powerful and I would love to hear back if you feel like you’re making progress!

      I will say, here in Maui in a bikini all day has had hints of the same old challenges in my mind, but I am really in awe by how comfortable I feel right now in my body. I know you can feel the same too! We all can. Just keep choosing love and it will be easier and easier.

  • Amazing blog!! So happy to share this with friends and family here in AZ! I’m so proud of what you’re doing! So much has changed from our HS days and so happy to see God doing so much! Keep them coming!!

  • I am so grateful that I came across your blog. I have had issues with not being “Worthy” for SO many years. I did not grow up with any relationship with God or any type of faith and I always wondered how people could just “Have Faith”. I really found my relationship with God and my faith just a few years ago. My journey has been tough … especially the last few years as I feel that God has really been dealing with me and my issues the last couple years. I feel like he has guided me to certain avenues that will help me along my journey… your blog being one of them. So I thank you- for sharing your story… for motivating and for inspiring.

    • Hi Siri!

      I am so grateful that you found this blog too! What a blessing it is that you have found God, it is never too late and it is always in His timing. I am sorry to hear of any struggle and hardship you’ve been facing but I know “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and who have been called according to His purpose.”(Romans 8:28) No matter what hardship you have, God is using it for your good and will give it Purpose. Just keep focusing on your love for Him and feel His presence in you at all times.

      Please feel free to always reach out to me in email too (amanda@amandawrightfit.com) and I will pray for anything specifically you need. You are worthy of all the love of God and blessing He can possibly pour out in your life. WORTHY.

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