Posted on Leave a comment

Part 4: Self Love vs Self Acceptance

Mental Health & Renewing your Mind (Part 4)

In Ephesians chapter 6 where it talks about the armour of God, it says, “Put on the breastplate of righteousness.” But the translation in the Living Bible says, “Put on the breastplate of God’s approval.” Part of your armour that God gave you to withstand the attacks of the enemy is to walk around knowing that God – your heavenly Father approves of you!

If God accepts and approves you – then you can accept and approve yourself!

It’s only when we discover our identity in Christ that we are able to untie ourselves from worldly standards and seeking for worldly acceptance.

You also need to believe in the same words that God spoke over Jesus – “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3 v 17). You are His beloved son in whom He is well pleased! You are His beloved daughter in whom He is well pleased! God wants you to realize that you are pleasing to Him just as you are. The devil tries to keep telling you that you are not good enough, but God is telling you that you have always been more than enough! You are His beloved child who is well pleasing to Him. The devil tries to tell you that you cannot possibly be acceptable to God because you are not perfect, but God tells you that you are accepted and loved. Not because of what you have done or will do – but because of what He has already done for you.

You see… The world operates on performance. You need to do certain things, achieve certain things, look a certain way, act a certain way – to be accepted.

But God says, no My child. I accept of you. I approve you. Despite all of your faults, despite your past, despite of the standards of the world. I chose you and I approve you! God’s acceptance is not performance based! Neither is His love. God Himself is Love and He has already accepted you. We don’t get accepted or rejected by God as a result of our works. Luckily not – we get accepted by God because of what He has already done for us through Jesus Christ on the cross. We can never make our way to heaven by doing good things. Works without faith is dead and so is faith without works.

When you accept Christ as your Savior, not when your parents took you to church for the first time. When you accept God, is when you make the conscious choice to follow God – then, He clothes you in righteousness. Through God you get to a place of being morally right / justifiable / righteous. You get to a place of being in right standing with God.

The world is driven by performance. But God says in His Word (John 17:14-19) that although we are living in this world, we are not of this world. The world may be performance driven orientated. But we are called to be set apart. We are called to be different. We are called to find our identity in Christ instead of searching for an identity in the world.

It’s only through our faith in Jesus Christ (not through our works) that we can come into right standing with God. Unless we get to the point where we realise that we can never earn God’s acceptance, love and approval other than through faith – we will continue to live in the carnal minded performance-based lifestyle. You already have God’s approval, acceptance and love. You simply need to accept it!

The world has the trend of self-love in order to gain self-acceptance. But God says love Me. Don’t love yourself. God asks of us to lay ourselves down. To die to oneself in order that we can take up the everlasting life through Him! The worldly performance driven lifestyle is the lifestyle of self-love. Telling yourself that you are good enough, you are accepted because you do this this and this. Or you are practicing self-love because you are coping with all the things your facing. When God clearly ask of us to come to His feet! To cast down all of our burdens, lay it down at His feet. Trusting Him for an outcome, because we can rest in knowing that He already knows what lies ahead.

Self-love is teaching us to accept ourselves as flawed individuals. Accepting the fact that we are running a race that might kill us but we’ll endure it.

Self-acceptance on the other hand, is reaching a point where you come to know your identity in Christ. Where you realise that the worldly rush, the performance driveness will leave you empty and void. That God already accepts of you – just the way you are. Without any titles, without any performance. He chose you then and He still chooses you today.

You are the only one standing in your way. Not the world. Not a friend or family member. YOU! No one else but you can make the decision to finally give up the desires of the flesh. It doesn’t mean that you won’t make mistakes in the future and that you will live a perfect life from here on forward. But your mind will be renewed. You will come to know that God loves you for who you are in Christ, and not for what you do. And realising that will set you free!

Posted on Leave a comment

Part 3: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you & consecrated you as My own!

Mental Health & Renewing your Mind (Part 3)

You are ENOUGH!

Whilst we are digging into our identity and exactly who we are in Christ – I want to use an extract from Dr MK Strydom’s Who You Are in Christ document.

[Dr MK Strydom is a qualified doctor who wrote the book The Bible from a Medical Perspective & Medicine from a Biblical Perspective as well as many other documents such as Who You Are in Christ – of which I’m extracting below].

This analysis was done by a professional psychologist on one of the Bible characters, read it and see if you can guess who the assessment was done on:

He suffers from chronic low level depression. He’s moody, impulsive and becomes angry when he feels victimized. He struggles with low self-worth. Because of feeling intellectually inferior, he attempts to hide behind an exaggerated ego. He really trusts no one. And yet he relies on others more than necessary and becomes naïve in his relationships with them. He exhibits self-criticism and irritability. He believes in individualism and has trouble in interpersonal relationships. His lack of trust often leaves him feeling anxious around people. He has relative weaknesses in attention. He has trouble sleeping. His weight fluctuates. He’s not mentally ill; he doesn’t have a personality disorder, and yet he often feels humiliated, embarrassed and remorseful.”

Did you guess who this could be? Well first of all, outside of the Bible he or she could be anyone you might meet in town tomorrow and even in church – or any man or woman who wasn’t raised with a Biblical self-image… including you. But the Bible character this best describes is a young man by the name of Gideon. Let’s look at his story because he is just like anyone else. If Gideon could believe what God said about him and develop a new self-image, so can you!

At the time, a tribe of people called the Midianites were oppressing Gideon’s land. His family were dealing with super high taxes and inflation. All around him was economic, cultural, religious and racial bondage. (does this sound similar to today’s day and age?) It was the worst of times for Israel – and Gideon was right in the middle of it. He was just trying to survive. He wasn’t thinking about being an over-comer or prosperous individual. When God called this young man of about 20 years old, he was hiding in a winepress, trying to thresh out some wheat. Threshing wheat in a winepress was a horrible, miserable job. The chaff, the dust – everything was unpleasant. In that day in the life of Gideon, the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and his life was changed forever. He said, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valour!” (Judges 6 v 12).

When you take the time to study what a “man of valour” is in the original Hebrew word, you will find that God called Gideon “a champion overcoming warrior who possessed valour, dignity and honour!” When the angel said that to Gideon he said, “Look, uh, Lord – would you please look around? Look at me. Come on, I’ve been a mess my whole life. I’ve been making minimum wage. I’ve just been trying to make it through life. I come from a family of dysfunctional people. We’re all just surviving – barely making it through. So are my friends. We are all trying to make a living. Everybody I know is sick, poor and in debt.” But God told this insecure young man, “All that is going to change son. You are not what you think you are. Listen, you are what I say you are! You are a mighty man of valour – a champion overcoming warrior who possesses dignity and honour!” And this fearful young man from the tribe of Benjamin changed the course of his nation. Gideon went to war, and God fought with him: Judges 8 v 28: “Thus Midian was subdued before the children of Israel, so they lifted their heads no more. And the country was quiet for 40 years in the days of Gideon.”

God told Gideon who he was and the rest was up to him. It was up to Gideon to decide whether he will trust God or whether he will continue to believe what he sees in the physical.

Just like god said to Gideon, He’s also saying it to you today: You are not what you think you are. You are what I say you are. You are a mighty woman of valor, a champion, an overcoming warrior – who possesses dignity and honor!

Now you might argue that you’re not worthy of God’s grace. And yes, we are all sinners. And we will never be perfect. And if it wasn’t for God’s unmerited favour and grace – none of us would have been able to be saved! But grab your Bible, and highlight this verse with the brightest pink highlighter that you can possibly find!

Jeremiah 1 verse 5 (Amplified Translation): Before I formed you in the womb I knew [and approved of you as My chosed instrument], and before you were born I consecrated you [to Myself as My own].

My dear girl, God loves you. He always has and He always will. No matter what happened in your life or how you feel about yourself – God loves you. God accepts you. And God approves of you.

What is important to realise is that even though God approves of you, it does not necessarily mean that he approves your behaviour. God already know the sins that you will commit even before you thought about it or end up doing it. God knew you before you were even born. God knew about all the wrong mistakes and choices you would make in life – yet, He still approved of you. That’s a kind of love like no other! Nothing that you have done or will do in the future can surprise God. He already knows and yet He still chose you.

Ephesians 1 v 4 says, “He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world.” He already knew every weakness and every flaw and He still said, “I want you.” Ephesians 1 v 5 says that He predestined you to be adopted as His child.

Ephesians 1 v 6: “To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He has made us accepted in the beloved.”

[Part 3 coming next week]

Posted on Leave a comment

Part 2: Finding your True Identity

Mental Health & Renewing your Mind (Part 2)

Surely we all feel secure in our superficial identities. We know our names, surnames, where we come from. We even kinda know what we stand for – well hopefully!

But I want to challenge you today to look beyond the superficial. To look a little deeper that what meets the eye. What skills have you cultivated over the years to cover up your low self-esteem. How do you cover up that you disapprove of yourself or that deep down in your heart you do not like yourself. It’s so easy to look at someone and think “oh they are so happy” or “she’s got it all figured out.” And some people even start to believe themselves at a certain point. There are so many people in this world who do not like themselves. In today’s day and age, we are continuously faced with questions like “who am I?” “what is my purpose?” “where is my life headed?” “who cares?”

Before you read any further – go read our previous Mental Health Blog Post: Part 1 – You become what you gaze upon!

You can be a child of God and struggle with these questions. And the sad thing is, it doesn’t get mentioned in churches. So, people end up suffering in silence. We as Christians look for fleshly things to fill our wounds. We continuously search for things to bring us peace, to make us happy, to fulfill us. But all of that is in vain. It’s a never-ending toxic cycle.

Unless you find your true identity in Christ, you will never get to a point where you will experience true content!

Content is defined as a mind space or state of satisfaction. A place of peaceful happiness. And true, everlasting content can never be found in things of the world. In the teaching “Who you are in Christ” by Dr MK Strydom, she starts of the document by saying “Building a healthy self-esteem comes through seeing yourself through the Father’s eyes. We cannot even see ourselves through the eyes of our friends. How much harder it is to imagine seeing yourself through the eyes of our Father.”

God gave us the Bible as the “blue print” of how our lives should look like. So if we want to see ourselves through the Father’s eyes – we need to go to the Word of God, to learn about His ways. To learn about His heart and His principles. If we don’t know Who He is, we’ll never be able to see ourselves through His eyes and figure out who we are!

John 17 verse 17 says “Sanctify them through Your truth; Your Word is Truth.” To sanctify ourselves means to be set apart. To purify oneself. To become holy. To free yourself from sin. God said in His Word (Gen 1:27), that He created man in His image. Yet, we stand in front of the mirror and pick ourselves apart. My tummy isn’t flat enough, my thighs are too big. My nose is to prominent. My this, this and this. We pick ourselves apart, breaking our self-esteem down until there is nothing left. When God clearly says: I have made you in My image!!

You, with your excess stomach skin, your jiggly thighs, your prominent nose. Yes YOU – you are made in the image of God! And God does not make mistakes. He never has and He never will! As children of God, we need to continuously spend time in His Word. Like Ephesians 5 verse 26 says, “that He may sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word.” The more time we spend learning about God and His character, the more we will learn about ourselves. By spending time in God’s Word, at His feet, He will reveal to us our true identity & renew our minds. He will show us our identity that can only be found in Him!

The worldly standards have been setting us up for failure for thousands of years. Unrealistic expectations and pressure we face on a daily basis are literally making us sick! It’s changing our minds and it is changing the way our brain functions! Remember the toxic branches we spoke about in the previous mental health blog post? If not – go read it again!

By spending time in the Word of God, we can start to wash away our worldly mindsets. The doctrines and standards of the world. The failure strongholds that the enemy has set in place to keep us in bondage. It’s only once we allow God to come into our lives (and I’m not talking about growing up in church and going to Sunday school) I am talking about truly allowing God into your heart – getting to the point where you stand in relationship with God – because you yourself got to know Him. Not because your grandparents took your parents to church and your parents took you. That is religion and not relationship. Religion is tradition. And the Word of God says in Mark 7:13 that nothing can nullify the Word of God like tradition.

I want to challenge you to step away from the tradition and the set ways you’ve grown up in. And really evaluate your faith. Is it based on religion or relationship?

You see, when we are stuck in religion, we battle things like low self-esteem, self-condemnation, guilt, self-disapproval, bitterness, self-hatred, feelings of not being good enough, feelings of standing alone.

But once you start having a real authentic relationship with the Father, He teaches you about His heart and His ways. And little by little, He will renew your mind and replace those earthly, carnal minded lies with the Truth of His Word and with your true identity – which can only be found in Him!

[Part 3 coming next week]

Posted on Leave a comment

Part 1: You become what you gaze upon…

Mental Health & Renewing your Mind (Part 1)

We’ve all heard the phrase “you are what you think” or the well known “you become what you gaze upon” – right? How often do we do a stock take on our thought life? Wait what are you saying Renché? Haha you heard me! Do you take time to think about what you think about?

Every time we think, we build memories. Literally! Every thought builds branches on the nerves of our brain. Imagine a tree – a nerve looks quite similar. Nerves also have a stem/trunk and branches. The more you think a specific thought, the more branches will grow on that tree (nerve). This is not my opinion! This is real biological facts – proven by doctors and scientists.

The more you think about the same things / meditate on the same thought, your hypothalamus (part of your brain) generates an electric wave that pass through your existing memories in your brain – and it actually re-activates the thought. This cause pre-existing memories to come to your mind (conscious) again. Let’s illustrate it by an example. Let’s say you have had an argument with someone a while ago. During and shortly after the argument you might have felt anger or resentment towards that person. The feelings/emotions later on subdued. And then after a while – when you see that person or someone else speaks about them – you immediately feel that same emotions you felt during / shortly after the argument. Have you experienced that before? I’m pretty sure we all have!

Both good and bad memories form in the same manner and function the same way in the brain. Just like a good memory gets triggered and you get the same warm and fuzzy feeling when you think back of the memory – those memory (nerve) branches get reactivated in the brain and it grows stronger. Same thing goes with negative thoughts. Dr MK Strydom calls them the poisonous thoughts. And that’s exactly what they are! Imagine the memory trees in your brain. The good memories are filled with pretty blossoms at the edges. And the negative memories are full of thorns / fangs.

Every single thought you have, releases a substance in your brain or creates a chemical process. Ever wondered why the Bible places SO much attention on the renewal of our minds? It’s pretty intense! That’s why!

When we renew our minds – by getting rid of toxic thought patterns, we are literally uprooting the thorny trees in our brain. And what’s also important is that when we uproot the thorny trees – we have to replace them with memory trees of life! We do that by finding our identity in Christ. Meditating on who we are in Christ and thinking about good and positive thoughts – we literally re-activate the electric wave in our brains. But since we are thinking good and positive thoughts – we are no longer causing toxins to be flushed out into our brains. But instead – we release healthy and life giving (more commonly referred to as “happy hormones”) in our brains.

I want to leave you with a few Scriptures regarding the renewal of your mind:

Romans 12:2 – And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

2 Corinthians 10:5 – Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things!

Proverbs 23:7 – For as a man thinks he is, so he becomes.

Don’t you think God is trying to give us a message through these Scriptures? If our thoughts and thought patterns did not matter or didn’t influence our lives – why then would He take time to mention any of the above?

God said in Deuternomy 30:19 – I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse: therefore, Choose Life, that both you and your seed may live!

We literally have the ability to change our reality by simply shifting our focus! You become what you gaze upon!

Today I want to encourage you to do a little “stocktake” on your thoughts! Are you meditating on life giving thoughts? Or are you making your body sick (mentally and physically) by constantly thinking negative thoughts that cause toxic chemicals to by flushed into your body?!

In the end it comes down to the fact that we have the responsibility to cleanse and renew our thought patterns. We all have to make the decision for ourselves to actively renew our minds – there is literally no one who can do it for you.

We are created in God’s image and His likeness. And thus in order for us to renew our minds – we have to start by finding our true identity in Jesus Christ!

[Part 2 coming next week]

Posted on Leave a comment

I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me!

This past weekend, I participated in a sprint triathlon. For those who don’t know the tri-lingo, a sprint is the short triathlon aka the baby triathlon. The sprint consisted of a 600m swim, 20km bike and 5km run.

If I have to place myself in a category of only one of the above – I would probably choose swimming. I love cycling – but I am definitely not the type who will do big cycling events/races. And running, well let’s just say – I’m pretty unfit haha. Unless there is an upcoming race that I know I have to train for – you won’t easily find me running. I used to be a sprinter, so the love for long distance has never been rooted in my heart. And then swimming! I swam throughout all my school years and to this day – I love it with all my heart!

However, with this weekend’s race – my biggest “fear” was the swimming leg. As I DREAD cold water & let’s be honest – I haven’t trained nearly enough but anyway.

So when I dived in, the cold water hit me in the face and for the entire time I was in the water – I never got warm/adjusted to the temperature. I had a serious tough time in the water from start to finish. But as I was swimming – Phil 4:13 that says “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me” – popped into my head. I was like BOOM! I’ve got this. I might suffer till the end, but I’m gonna finish this! And the rest of my swim turned from suffering focused to a blessing through the suffering. You could say that in my suffering this blog post was born haha.

And although the swim didn’t get any easier, a smile crept onto my face in the middle of an open water swim – because my focus shifted.

So often when things get hard in life, we tend to grab onto Scripture of promises and blessings or Scriptures that promises breakthrough, etc. But what God reminded me off – was that I can do all things through Him Who gives me strength. That verse does not guarantee that there will be no hardships / hard times. Or that when I find a promising piece of Scripture, that my circumstances will suddenly change. It simply means that God has already placed everything inside of me that I will need to push through. So often when hardship strikes, we start questioning why me? Or why this or that? Or why is this so hard? Where is God in all of the troublesome times?

When in fact, most of the time, it’s us who have shifted our focus. God didn’t change. He never has and He never will. He said He will never leave you nor forsake you. And He meant that!

About a month ago I saw a quote that read – you are trying to carry the mountain which you should have been climbing. I just loved it! And I think it fits in seamlessly with this blog. So many times, in life we ask God to lift the mountain off of our shoulders, to ease the burden. But yet, we don’t realise that we are making things harder for ourselves. We need to surrender our mountains at Jesus’s feet. Take the mountain off your shoulders, and start climbing it instead of carrying it. We can do all things through Christ Who strengthens us. He will never leave you nor forsake you.

We should stop asking God to change our situations that we struggle with. Of course you can (and you should) pray and tell God how you feel and what your heart’s desires are. But He already knows it whether you tell Him or not. But instead of asking God to change your situation, we can shift our focus. Keep your focus on Him. In every situation there is a lesson to be learned. There’s an opportunity to grow. Start thanking God for keeping you and protecting you – even in the midst of the raging storm!

Don’t tell God how big your mountain is. Tell your mountain how big your God is!

Hard times will come. But luckily, they won’t last forever. But whilst you face them, may you always remember that you can do ALL things through Christ Who strengthens you!

Posted on Leave a comment

You don’t have to be available 24/7

You really don’t! This topic is one that has been on my mind for months now! We live in an instant society these days and over time, our mindsets have been re-programmed that everything has to be instant. Well may I remind you; life is not a drive-through.

I am very goal orientated and quality over quantity will always be my approach. I love serving people to the best of my abilities. But at some stage we have to stop and ask ourselves if we are serving at the cost of ourselves.

Being a small business owner always seemed so much fun before I started FIT BEST Training. I knew that it would be hard work and that most of your work would be behind the scenes. But I could honestly never have fathomed that it would be THIS much work behind the scenes! This is not me complaining! Oh hell no! I love being self-employed, growing a teany tiny business and hustling to reach my goals!

But being a small business owner means that there is no structure below you to whom you can delegate tasks and help carry the workload that you face every day. And most people will never realize how much effort you put in, and I’ve learned that that is also fine.

I still remember back in January 2020 when Nadine and I attended a course and we discussed business related things, and she just sat there one day looking at all of the content and said “oh my word! I didn’t even know about half these things.” And I laughed and thought to myself – I must remember that when I write the blog. Yep, back then I’ve already had the topic on my mind. Well, fast forward 9 months and I’m finally writing it!

We all have so many things in our lives that keeps us busy on a daily basis. And we’ve gotten so used to instant connections, response and service – that we seldom (unknowingly) expect an immediate response. This was such a big thing I had to deal with, and I am still dealing with it!

With FIT BEST Training I aspire to inspire. I honestly want to leave people better than I found them. I want to help people to the best of my abilities. And although I love that about myself. I also had to learn to take a step back and realize that I is not my job to be everywhere, help everyone and burn myself out in the process. When FIT BEST was just starting out, staying connected to my clients was easy – as there were literally only a few! But as time progressed, we’ve been blessed to grow continuously. Which obviously means more people, more messages, more enquiries, more everything – whom I have to attend to.

At first, I was so hard on myself. I would constantly feel that I was letting people down when I did not respond to their messages immediately. And I’m not someone who like to do things half-heartedly. So responding to enquiries, etc is something I put my time and effort in. First impressions DO last!

Unfortunately, it reached a point where I would wake up in the morning, grab my phone, start responding to messages – without even getting out of bed! Literally! Every! Single! Day! I would set my alarm earlier so that I would have at least 45 minutes to an hour to respond to messages before I need to get ready for the rest of the day’s events.

And once I finished work, whether it was giving class, coaching swimming, doing forensic investigations or personal training sessions – I would grab my phone once again and start responding to the day’s messages and emails, checking in on clients, etc. To the point where I would sit with my phone the entire night until I go to bed.

This is no life! And I am thankful that I have reached this point and came to this realization. I am goal driven and strive for excellence in everything I do. But I simply realized that I can’t do either of the fore mentioned if I burn myself out!

I spoke to Marli, who was one of our former brand ambassadors about this quite a bit at a stage. Because we both went through the same mind space at the time. Where we felt like we have so much to do and we don’t manage to get around to do it all. And then we end up feeling guilty that we’re not responding and it’s just a never-ending terrible cycle. So we continue to burn ourselves out in an attempt to “get ahead” and being there for everyone else except ourselves.

And I remember the one day I made her a voice note… The poor soul is the one who probably listens to the most of my brain farts! Haha… Usually when I send her voice notes ideas pops into my mind and she has to listen to the unfiltered information as I sift it through my own brain (verbally). We have a unwritten rule where we give each other 3-5 business days to respond to text messages. Tiny shout out: I’m forever in debt to you for always listening and your pure heart!

But anyway, what I wanted to say about that… We spoke about life being so busy and the stress we place on ourselves. And I said to her (brain fart) I’ve come to a place to realize that we need to be able to not feel bad or guilty about not returning promptly when life gets busy. It’s the fine line of that you don’t have to be available 24/7 without being rude or unprofessional. And when I said that, I thought to myself… hmmm I am preaching to myself but anyway!

The point I’m trying to get across, is that we should never underestimate the importance of taking a step back. If you fail to take time off and take time for yourself – you will burn yourself out! And a burnt-out person cannot serve others. So, by learning to take a step is not only good for you – but also good for the people around you!

If you have sent me a message to which I haven’t responded (in longer than 3-5 business days) – pop me another message and say “hi, answer me dammit!” – I won’t be offended haha.

We need to remind ourselves that the person on the other side of the screen is not an automated robot. That person also has a life of their own. They also have personal matters to attend to. And they don’t live and breathe their business even though they put their heart and soul into it.

Let’s all have a little more grace and understanding for one another. But most importantly – have some grace for yourself! You are doing the best you can and it’s time to lay down those heavy burdens that you’ve placed on yourself to always be there for everyone!

You want to be there for everyone, but sometimes it is okay to step back and not be there for everyone! You can’t pour from an empty cup! Remember that!