I’m a newly converted Barre3 member, which means I’m in shape, but I can barely walk. And though I can now sit and eat comfortably in my jeans without unzipping them, I have trouble getting into a seated position. If you look up Barre3, the website will tell you it’s a “full-body workout” that includes “sustained holds, micro-movements, and cardio bursts” that leave your body feeling balanced. I agree.
Approximately twenty minutes into a Barre3 workout, the instructors ask you to go one inch deeper into a hold. As your body starts to shake, they reassure you that this is normal. Coaching us to recognize the chaos entering our muscles, causing us to quiver, they say to breathe through the hold.
Now I am accustomed to pushing through and even enjoying the challenges in that workout. Even though I can anticipate the part of class that is going to hurt, I know building endurance is for my good. And I really appreciate that the instructors make a point to remind us of what we are accomplishing by staying in a hold longer than we want. We can get through this, and we will be stronger for it.
Building Heart Strength
Paul spoke to this strength when he wrote to the Romans:
We also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.
Romans 5:3–4 HCSB
According to the Scriptures, we can come to a place in our faith when we rejoice in our pain. Building heart strength is a physical discipline for our bodies, but it can also teach us a sacred spiritual lesson about our heart for God. Facing the chaos of life, pushing through it, and enjoying the breakthrough that naturally follows is the kind of exercise our hearts need in order to thrive.
It’s More Braveheart than Bridget Jones’s Diary
As I considered how we could live up to Jesus’s call in Mark 12:30 to love God with all our hearts, I went to the Word of God for direction. Before looking up how often and in what setting the word heart was used in the Bible, I was expecting confirmation that ladies need to control their feelings, because I’ve grown up hearing how much more emotional and relational women are than men. While keeping my feelings in check and directing my affection toward Christ is a worthy goal, it’s not the extent of loving God with all my heart. What I thought would be a lesson on tempering our feelings turned into a lesson on integrity. It’s a lot more Braveheart than Bridget Jones’s Diary.
Our Truest Inner Self
I was surprised that even though the word heart appears more than a thousand times in the Bible, it rarely describes just our feelings or one of our internal organs. Instead, the term is used more broadly to mean “our truest inner selves.” Think about that. Our truest inner selves can sometimes be buried beneath our insecurities, our talents, or the opinions of others, or they may even contrast what we say we believe. When authors of Scripture used the word heart, they intended for us to envision the raw, plain truth about our whole lives.
What’s Driving Your Heart?
I sifted through commentaries and lexicons to find that the meaning of heart in the Bible includes our whole personality and disposition, with an emphasis on reason and will. The best way I could summarize my findings on the word is that our heart is the driving force behind our actions. Loving God with all our hearts is not just feeling love toward God or redirecting misguided feelings back to God. It’s about letting our love for him determine how we live.
Kat Armstrong engages disconnected women exploring God with the relevance of the scriptures, commissions rooted Christians to flourish in their God-inspired assignment, and refocuses the Church to outreach. Kat holds a Masters in Christian Education from Dallas Theological Seminary and is the Cofounder of Polished, a network to gather young professional women to navigate career and explore faith together. Her husband is the pastor of Dallas Bible Church and they have a son named Caleb.