Who do you know who is friend enough to challenge you in your goal-setting and keeping? Who could you help out as well? Read on as Amanda Anderson offers some great advice on eating - or not eating - donuts!
By Amanda Anderson
When a video pitch from a personal trainer popped up on my Instagram feed (you know they type - the kind that promises the answer to all your specific body-type issues), I decided to give it a try. My friend Gina agreed to join me in the online program, and we promised to hold each other accountable.
I immediately forgot about it.
The next day, Gina texted: "Did my first workout! Feeling good, did squats and might be feeling it soon. Lmk how I can support you in your workouts."
I wrote back: "I ate a donut."
Thankfully, Gina's response was not that of an in-your-face bootcamp trainer. It was more of the laugh-out-loud emoji variety. The next day, when I did get my workout in, I texted an update, knowing that my friend would be proud of me. Gina, however, had been up throughout the night with a sick child, so she got a pass on her workout that day.
This kind of grace-laced accountability might not get us six-pack abs, but in the past few weeks, we have both moved toward a sustainable active routine, motivated by the fact that someone is cheering us on.
I'm a big fan of this style of accountability, which brings depth and meaning to my friendships, purpose to my life, and ease to my struggle with self-control. Anytime I set a goal, I ask at least one of my closest friends to check in on me.
To some, accountability sounds judgmental, so many women forget it can be a great tool for growth. I've found that my girlfriends are actually very loving personal trainers, helping me stay on track in life without shaming or berating me.
Sometimes accountability does get a little more challenging, when the issues at hand aren't workouts or work goals, but ones of spiritual growth and our identity in Christ.
The book of Galatians is a great model for spiritual personal trainers. Though Paul's affection for the church of Galatia is clearly expressed throughout the letter, he also employs tough love. "You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?" he writes halfway through (Galatians 3:1). The church in Galatia was listening to teachers whose message was causing them to abandon salvation by grace, through faith, and trying to earn God's favor through works, so Paul takes a tough tone.
Our own works-based substitutions for grace might be different than those in Galatia, but I am very often lured into a worldly, fear-based assessment of my value, keeping a punishing schedule and trying to please impossible-to-please people. Gina and others take a hard line with me, using words similar to that of Paul's in Galatians 4:9: "But now that you know God - or rather are known by God - how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces?" These reminders keep me from blowing up my family life or sinking into anxiety and depression, which I battled for years. They help me to walk in the freedom that is mine in Christ.
We all need this kind of "wake up and remember!" accountability, sisters. Can we be brave enough to ask for it and then offer it? When we get close to danger - an office or online flirtation when we are married, over-use of alcohol, or even a legalistic Bible study that is threatening our freedom - can we dare to pull each other back from the edge? To receive his grace and also walk in his righteous ways is the ultimate path to safety and completion this side of heaven.
If you don't have someone in your life who can act as a spiritual personal trainer, I recommend starting with the grace-laced donut-level accountability. These small exercises build the muscles we need for spiritual growth in friendship: trust, grace, insight, and the courage to stand for the truth.
Amanda Anderson is an author, speaker, blogger, freelance journalist, and Bible teacher. Her book, All My Friends Have Issues: Building Remarkable Relationships with Imperfect People (Like Me), releases in July and is available for preorder now. Connect with Amanda at www.heartintraining.com.