Friday, February 19, 2016

Kickboxing, gratitude, and love.

I went to Body Combat class this morning with my daughter. It's the first time I've been in a martial arts-styled exercise class in over 10 years, and it was nice to be back, although I'm definitely not quite as intense at it as I was back then.  My daughter makes up for that

Back when I was attending regularly, it was called Kickboxing.  My friend Susanna would email me the list of classes she was going to attend that week at our local Y, and I would join her.  Susanna is super at organizing and scheduling. I was so blessed in that season by her workout structure because it gave me something to shoot for and someone who would know if I didn't show up to work out which gave me accountability.

She probably scheduled three or four classes a week to attend, so we got to experience several different instructors.  I liked most of them, but there was this one that rubbed me the wrong way.  We'll call her Amy.

Just seeing her in the hallway, my spirit would recoil.  I had no interaction with her or basis for my reaction, but the last thing I wanted to do was attend her classes.

However, she taught the afternoon kickboxing class, and Susanna decided to try it out.

I was in a season of learning a lot from Graham Cooke, a British guy that teaches on the prophetic, and had listened multiple times to a teaching called "Messing with the Enemy's Head" (Go ahead and click on that link.  You can thank me later.)

One of the main points is to operate in the opposite spirit.  So if you are encountering someone who is irritated and frustrated, instead of responding in like manner, I get to be calm and kind.

Since it was so obvious that I had no real reason to dislike Amy (and even if there were...), I decided that it was an opportunity to operate in the opposite spirit, so I went to her class with Susanna.

I really, really didn't enjoy the class.  It was a struggle for me to focus on the workout and not on my negative feeling towards her.  But I wanted to be faithful to the lesson, so I continued to attend.

One afternoon during class, the Lord told me: "I want you to go and thank her."

A surge of panic rose in my chest.  Thank her?  For what?  I couldn't come up with anything about the class I was grateful for, so darkened were the lenses I was viewing her through. I could hardly concentrate on the moves Amy was directing us through as my mind whirled through the possible things I could honestly say thank you for.

Finally, I hit on the one that I could truthfully say.

So after class was over, I dutifully walked over to her and said, ""Thank you for teaching the class."

That was it.  She said, "You're welcome," and as I turned to go out the door, the negativity towards her that I had been experiencing was suddenly and completely washed away by an intense love and compassion for her.  I was astounded and moved to extreme gratitude.

God had taken my darkened perspective, empowered my very small step of obedience, and shifted everything in a moment.

My negative reaction to anything/anyone is always an opportunity for me to grow. I'd like to say that since that time, I've learned how to embrace that growth every time.  Truth is, it usually takes several times before I realize that I'm listening to and agreeing with the enemy's broadcast about that person.  I'm partnering with his plan instead of pushing back and agreeing with God's plan and perspective.

Truth is, God's love runs deeper/higher/wider than I'll ever be able to grasp for every. single. person.  So when my reaction/response isn't love, there's work to be done, and gratitude is a powerful tool in this process.

Have someone difficult in your life?  Try finding one thing you can be thankful for about him/her, and if you have the chance, verbally thank him/her for that.  Become aware of when you are experiencing negative emotions towards someone and then ask God to show you how to operate in the opposite spirit.

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