Rule #5: Visualize Success

torah-scrollIn recent posts I  have been considering the individual rules, compiled by personal trainer Joel Harper and listed in an article called “Ten Rules Fit People Live By,” examining each of them in the light of Biblical teaching. You can check out Rule #4 and get to the previous ones from this link. Today, we get to examine rule #5: Visualize success. Here’s how the author explains this rule.

Harper has all of his new clients close their eyes and imagine their ideal body—both what it looks like from head to toe, and how it makes them feel. Then he tells them to go shopping: “I say to people, ‘Hey if you want that body, then buy clothes that would fit if you had it. And try them on every day until they fit.’”

How could I have known when I was ten years old that I was practicing rule #5. I went to the back yard and imagined myself coming to the plate in game 7 of the World Series. “Based loaded. Two outs. Bottom of the ninth. Browning hits a long one down the left field line. If it stays fair it’s . . . it’s . . . it’s a home run! The Royals win the series! Oh, the humanity!” I did that day after day, finally giving the practice up when I turned 50. How’s that for visualizing success Joel? Maybe it would have worked better if I had tried on a major league uniform every day as well.

Harper’s rule #5 is all about willing yourself into smaller clothes and a more toned body. It’s about remaking yourself, into your own ideal image and under your own steam. There might be some value in that, but it seems to me that the Bible’s teachings take a different approach.

Rather than focusing on who I want to make myself become, the Bible tends to ask me to focus on who God has delivered me from. In Psalm 40, David gives a great example:

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.

Harper encourages his trainees to buy the clothes they want to fit into and then squeeze themselves in until the new togs fit, yet time after time, the Bible uses clothing as a metaphor for the righteousness that God places upon us through Christ. In Isaiah 61:10

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

I’m not utterly dismissing Harper’s idea of visualizing success. However, I do believe there is more power in focusing on the negative past from which God delivered me than in the positive future to which I might be able to take myself. I’ll be more dressed for success in the garments of salvation than in the wishing wardrobe of items that don’t quite fit yet.

Fully aware of the magnitude of the sin from which I have been delivered, I can surely find motivation to keep my heart beating, my eating in check, and my sunscreen on. And if I could be closer to the fitness model that I’d like to be by following Harper’s path, then I’ll let that go in exchange for being the faithful (and fit) follower of Christ that He created me to be.