Just Like Muscle Memory

Recently I’ve been reflecting over some of the things and seasons that God has brought me through that has all lead me to be where I am today and I am so grateful.  Right now in a season where it can sometimes be harder to see the truth, I have the choice to actively fight and seek truth in every moment of the day. Whether I’m handling a conflict between students at school, conflicts with friends, when your pizza doesn’t arrive on time for your classroom party, or whether I’m up late at night battling anxiety and feeling exhausted the next day, I have the choice to either feel frustrated or I can turn my thoughts to Him and trade it all for thoughts that are good, true, and holy. I may not always be able to control situations around me, I may not always be able to control the anxiousness that I feel almost daily, but I do have the ability to look at it all through the lens of the Gospel and to actively determine what is true and what is not true, what is reality and what is just in my head. I do have control over my response to the lies that the enemy tries to attack me with. 

Back towards the end of my senior year in college, I took a self-defense class (but don’t get too excited. It was one time. For one hour. And I remember close to nothing from it. Super useful).  After we finished with the evening, the officer leading the class looked around at all of us. And in his words, he said, “when you walk away from this tonight, the reality is that you probably won’t remember 90% of what we learned about in here. Unless you actually put to practice what you learned and practice it every day and are diligent with taking other classes. The harsh reality is, is that if this doesn’t become muscle memory for you, you won’t remember anything of what we showed you here when you do get into situations of trying to defend yourself.  Your body will naturally go into fight or flight mode, your brain won’t be able to recall the strategies and tips you learned.” Yup. He was talking to me. Unless I actually put to practice what I learn, I don’t actually learn from it. So I knew I probably wasn’t going to remember much from that night. Then he continued on and said, “Unless it becomes muscle memory. Unless you sharpen your mind every day and practice these strategies so that when you do have to defend yourself, you won’t have to think, your body will just do. Your body will naturally begin to just fight and will know what to do without you having to think through anything.”

I walked away that night and remembered bits and pieces from the class, but honestly, I forgot about it almost completely weeks, months, and years later.  Until recently I was talking with a friend and I thought back to this night. I think a lot of this applies to me right now in this season I’m walking through currently but not because I’m needing to brush up on self-defense. As I battle anxiety every day, or conflicts that come up with relationships, friendships, or student drama, I’m realizing more and more just how important it is to truly be meditating on God’s word. Not just reading God’s word so that you can magically feel better and less anxious after reading it, not reading God’s word because of something you’ll get from it. But truly reading God’s word because not only does it have the power to change your heart that you wouldn’t be able to do on your own, but because God’s word reveals more about Him and His heart and who He is currently shaping us to be according to His image. We get to know God and His character, and the love He demonstrated for us through His word, not just something we read to put a band-aid fix over our problems. And the more I seek the Lord through His Word, the more I recognize how dirty rotten of a human being I truly am and sins I realize I commit that I need to repent and turn from. And the more I realize how much more undeserving of grace I am that God freely gives and demonstrates to me anyway despite my sin. 

God calls us to feast our minds and thoughts on things that are good and true and holy. To hide His word in our hearts, to treasure it, to recall it when we go through difficulties and trials. Just like with the self-defense class that I took if it doesn’t become almost like muscle memory to me, if I don’t treasure His word, I’m going to forget it when the battle or trial does come. Or I will forget truth and scripture when I’m tempted to feast my mind on those anxious thoughts.  If I’m not daily practicing this daily dying to my flesh, daily surrendering my anxieties, then how much harder will it be for me to see truth as clear as day when my mind is foggy and when the enemy is whispering lies every so sneakily into my life. The enemy comes to seek, devour, kill, and destroy us. He will work in His crafty ways to deceive us whether those false lies are blatantly in front of us or disguised as half or partial truths. Every day it is a fight, every day I need to be recalling scripture even on the good days.  It’s all in preparation for when the day or moment comes when we face trials and temptations of many kinds that our minds would be sharp and would recall truths from God’s word. No longer am I trying to remember what God says, I will already know what God says, I will already know that He gets the final word and the final say. I wouldn’t think about it or search for it, but instead, I’ll just know and I’ll have His word tucked in my heart.    

-Shelby Davis, GEM Missionary

If you’d like to support Shelby as she serves with GEM in Mexico, you can do so HERE. You can also contact her directly to talk further about what it means to be on her support team and find out how you can be praying for her!