Rethinking what we fill our minds and bodies with

Written by Sue Russell

When I was younger, I was obsessed with the comedy/drama series Gilmore Girls. I loved the fast talking, the witty banter and the fact that they lived in a charming little town. I made it my mission to watch the entire series every year starting in the fall. I am embarrassed to admit that I was able to burn through the entire seven-season series in less than four months.

During these very intense Gilmore-filled months, I found I would start talking faster and consume more junk food, much like the show’s main characters. Coffee and I have always been best friends, but other things crept up in my life more and more. Why? Because I was becoming like these girls I spent most of my free time with.

American author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” I believe that you also become the average of the five mediums you spend the most time with. For many of us in our media-saturated world, that probably means music, books, TV, food, and people.

Going through a rebellious phase where I didn’t want to be “your typical pastor’s wife,” I began listening to whatever music was fun and pop culture-ish on my walks and runs. I hung around people who wanted to be more in the world than into Christ, and I didn’t care about what I was putting into my body.

Even though I was making a healthy choice in exercise, I surrounded myself with very unhealthy things. My language, thoughts, and desires were not aligning with Christ.

Fast forward to two years ago where my world was rocked during the pandemic. I started listening to Christ-centred music on my runs and walks. I surrounded myself more and more with people who were Christ-focused, and not world-focused. I began working on the food I put into my body as well as what I watched and read.

Over time, the words that came out of my mouth started to become more edifying. Why? Because I was aligning myself with what Christ wanted, and when I aligned myself with Him, lesser things became unsatisfying. I became more and more convicted with TV shows I watched and the things I read.

When I played basketball in high school, a verse that ran through my head was, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). I used to think practising and playing hard was all it took, but it is so much more.

In sports and fitness, it is easy to feel competitive and to challenge your body to deeper limits. It is also important to challenge your whole self to be aligned with Christ.

This applies to all areas of life. On and off the court. With your earbuds in listening to music. With the conversations you have with your peers. With the food you put into your body. With how you make yourself the best for your sport. With the thoughts you indulge in—in those deep, dark places of your heart.

In the 1981 film Chariots of Fire, the character Eric Liddel says, “When I run, I feel [God’s] pleasure.” When you’re working at something with all your heart, I believe there is that ability to bring glory to God and to “feel His pleasure.”

However, working with all your heart requires going against the grain. It means resisting the habit of eating fast food that can harm you. It means getting those nutrients in your body that will make your muscles thank you, and your performance better.

It means going against the grain with music. Instead of getting pumped up for a game with music that comes out of you in dark, evil, or sexual thoughts or actions, you choose to listen to music that will keep you focused on Christ, even when the ref makes a bad call, or your opponent does you dirty.

It means going against the grain with your sources of advice. You choose to seek godly wisdom and be an example for Christ instead of focusing on worldly wisdom. We are after all the hands and feet of Christ in whatever we do.

As you strive to do your best in the sports and fitness world, may you continually dwell on the things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable, as Philippians 4 reminds us. May your focus continually be on glorifying God through everything you do—everything you listen to and watch, think, and everything you eat.

Take some time to think and journal down answers to these questions:

  1. Whom/what am I spending most of my time with? How do these affect my thoughts, language, and attitude?
  2. Do these things align with Christ?
  3. How can I glorify God more with the mediums I spend the most time with?