Inner Strength in a Restless World
We have just entered 2021. Most of us are happy to see the end of 2020 and hopeful that 2021 is a year of liberation. What a year 2020 has been, right? Within the first 6 days of this new year, we have seen things go from worse to worser (if that makes sense). I saw a funny meme which many of us would probably concur with, “I have used up my first 6 days free trial of 2021, I want to cancel my subscription.” Or another, “I’d like to skip 2021 and move right into 2022.” Who would have guessed the world would see what no one was really surprised with seeing, yet hopeful to never see? First, Covid-19 has a new strand on the rise. Here in the UK, we are under a third national lockdown which may go into April. People are very weary and the potential of brining the virus home is at an all-time high whilst a national vaccination campaign is underway. Second, Brexit has finally come into effect with a new way of life outside of the European Union has begun. Third and finally, the world tunes in to the Capital Building of the United States under what some commentators call a siege, others a call for accountability and truth. Either way you look at it, global peace has been disturbed, or shown for what it is – fragile. The boundary lines of respect, tolerance and civility have been trampled. Now that we have a small taste of what 2021 may be, what can you and I take from 2020 and apply in our lives during 2021?
I will never forget as a young boy in elementary school sitting for an ear test (since being born with a slight hearing loss) and thinking about what life would be like in 2020 – no joke! The things a boy thinks about. Whilst in Middle School, I was sent for an eye test because things became a bit blurry for me. The prognosis was awful: eye-glasses (or spectacles for those in the UK). I hate having to wear glasses – now having to wear a face mask complicates the clear vision given as they fog up when I exhale. To see clearly is a gift! What I found most impacting of 2020 is the clarity not to see what is in the future (since we are all so future focused), but to see clearly what is happening now all around me and more importantly within me. What is happening within us is more important than what is happening around us. It seems that what is happening around us is testing our inner strength. Whilst in times of testing, the question to ask is: How do I find inner strength in a restless world?
- Recognise your source. To recognise the source of your inner strength, you must take a honest look at yourself and ask who is my inner peace? Honesty is so important. In my early days of getting physically fit, I remember watching “fit” men and women walking past me and jealously thinking, “It’s not fair.” One day whilst giving it my all on the cross-trainer, that thought was met with, “If you want what they have, you have to work for it. They didn’t just get it, they put in the time and energy to achieve it. If you want it, you have to do the same.” Thank you, God. I knew that was not coming from me. In order for my physical being to change, I had to take some time to be honest with myself. I had to recognise and stop living a lie of jealousy met with excuses and judging others for “flaunting their physiques” about the gym – specifically in front of me. Quite frankly, I am convinced I was the last person on their mind. The point is, I had to then be honest and recognise my source of inner strength was not a good source. My source of strength was coming from me. My internal being was a mess, in denial of the mess, and trying to look like I had no mess.
Even the term “New Year’s Resolution” seems to have become a term of the past because people have recognised they are setting themselves up for failure, why? They know their own strength to accomplish the goals they set is weak. 2020 has been a year when the majority of the world has stopped in some way. The busyness of life was grounded to a halt. No airplanes, no traffic, no rushing here and there. No dashing to the shops, no “non-essential” shopping, no going to work, no gym, no travel, no school, no parties, nothing but staying at home and tuning in to sounds that have been drowned out. For some, waking up to the sound of birds singing, for others the sounds of torment from within. For some it was feeling the sunshine whilst out in the back garden, for others just viewing it from their flat – unable to get out. All in all, it has been a time of reflection and a review of life. I have heard many say the word recognise. Everyone in some way has come to recognise their way of life has to change. Some have found that the forced closure of aspects of their lives has allowed them the ability to take a breath and relax. As the lockdown continued from weeks to months, they have recognised that the busyness of life has kept them from dealing with internal turmoil and lack of peace. All of a sudden, life is unbearable and the strength to cope is waning.
Some of us look for happy thoughts, or a deceased loved-one to be our source. We try to hold on to yesterday and things that have passed rather than realise there is a source who is present in the now and in the tomorrows of our lives. Some of us look for others to be our source of strength and then find when they are not there, we falter, fail and then blame someone else who is needing the same strength each of us are trying to find.
- Submit. Once I recognised my need to stop all the nonsense in my mind of jealousy, judging accusing and excusing, I had to decide who I submitted myself to, a new source of strength and peace: God. I realised that in myself, I was self-sabotaging my ability to get in shape. Sometimes I’d come in the gym thinking, “I got this!” After 10 minutes on the cardio machine, my “I got this” turns more into “I don’t really need this”.
Once I tapped into the voice of God either correcting my thinking, or encouraging me to keep going, I was able to achieve much more because I figured out and submitted to His voice of strength. It sounds so spiritual, you may think. You are right, yet I have tried all types of sources to make it happen and found failure and disappointment every time. I discovered a purpose in what I was doing that had more of an impact in the world I was living in. The key is to submit yourself to the voice of God. What does God think about you? He believes in you more than you believe in yourself because he designed you and gave you everything you need to have inner peace and the ability to work out what is within.
How can you or I submit to God? 1. Recognise you lack the strength of inner peace and your need for Him in your life. 2. Pray (or talk to Him). Ask Him to come into your life. 3. Submit to His way of doing life by reading the bible and applying what it says.
- Work out. Having submitted to the voice of God instructing and encouraging me to put in the work and that I was able to do it, I did it! I worked it out. Now, it was not a one-time accomplishment, it was and is a lifestyle lived.
Once you have submitted to God as your source, begin to work it out. You may think, I do not need to submit to God in order to get in shape. What impacts the out working of your life is the inner strength of peace. If I struggle with the thoughts of inadequacy in any aspect of life, I may look adequate on the outside, yet I’ll be struggling to stay afloat on the inside. Many of us deal with imposter syndrome and dare not let people know what we are feeling. When we have the right source, we are able to work out the issues of life with confidence. There is nothing like having inner confidence. Tapping into the inner strength of God enables you to accomplish so much more because we understand that all we do has purpose and meaning to not only our lives but the lives of those around us, too.
This verse sums up what this article is all about: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will surely help you; I will uphold you with My right hand of righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10). You may need to work on a relationship that has gone stale, or a financial crisis that needs a budget to freedom, or a health risk that needs the discipline of right choices and the sweat of the brow. Whatever you are facing today, whatever you have found as an inner struggle in a restless world, recognise your source of strength, submit to God as your source and work it out from a place of peace.
Author: Aaron Hornback, January 2021