I’ve never been interested in sports, but my Hubby likes them quite a bit so I’ve been watching a few games lately out of the corner of my eye. The thing that impresses me the most is the mental strength of some of these athletes.
Back in my figure skating days, I was always an emotional basket case before a competition. The stress I put myself under almost always brought out my worst performances. I could never quite get a handle on my emotions.
Unfortunately, life off the ice isn’t that much different. I always assumed that as I grew older, I would finally mature to a point where I could keep my emotions in check.
Ah, the disappointments of adulthood.
Over the last month, I’ve been reminded (almost painfully) that the battle for control over my emotions is an ongoing one. Furthermore, it’s a battle that involves a great deal of psychological warfare.
Yogi Berra once said, “90% of the game is half mental.” And he’s not wrong. Well, maybe a little in the math, but you get the idea. When preparing for competition, a good athlete knows they need to get their thought life under control.
The Bible has many verses about this, but one that I’ve found recently is Luke 21:19, in which Jesus tells His disciples;
“By your patience posses your souls.”
That word ‘souls’ is translated from the Greek word psuche. This is the word from which we get psychology. It’s also translated as ‘breath’ and ‘life.’ Basically, it’s the word the Greeks used to describe the inner self, the intellect, personality, and emotions that make each of us who we are.
But maintaining control of our inner self is a very difficult thing to do. Possessing one’s soul is something that requires constant work and, as stated in the verse, patience.
Sort of like keeping hold of the ball while life tries to tackle you.
Knowing what I’m going to face out on the field, I’m ill-equipped if I set out without getting my head in the game. And one of the best ways to do this is with a pep talk.
If my Hubby is having a bad day, I do my utmost to encourage him with my words. I remind him that he is a child of God, that his identity is in the Lord, and that his salvation is secure. I tell him that God is in control of the situation and that we can trust Him.
But when I’m having a bad day, it’s a very different story. Rather than reminding myself to stand on God’s truths, I point out every little flaw, actions I regret, signs that I’m still struggling with the same sins, and reminders that, at the end of the day, I’ll never be good enough.
If I spoke into others’ lives the way I speak into my own, no one would ever want to talk to me.
But I’m a child of God too, and His words are just as true for me as they are for anyone else; He loves me as much as He loves anyone else. And He’s just as displeased with the hurtful words I use on myself as He would be if I were speaking them to any of His other beloveds.
I’m beginning to wonder how different my day would look if I entered into it mentally psyched for the game instead of dragged down by self-criticism.
What would happen if every morning I reminded myself of who the Bible says I am and the promises God has given me?
What would my life look like if whenever I made a mistake, I repented, forgave myself, and got right back in the game?
How would my actions change if they were directed by thoughts that were drenched in the truth of Scriptures instead of shriveled up with self-condemnation?
How would my game change if I started it with a pep talk?
How would your game change if you did the same?
I don’t think I’m alone in this. In fact, I think that the battle to possess our souls is one that’s easy to overlook. But I don’t want the other team playing ball with my mind; I want control of the ball.
I want to follow Paul’s example in 1Cor. 9:25a;
“Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things.”
I am a child of God Almighty, He will never leave me nor forsake me, and I can do all things through Him Who gives me strength. Not because I said so, but because He did.
And you know what else? You are favored by God; much loved and more than a conqueror. Not because I said so, but because He did.
What does your pep talk sound like?