What's In a Name?
by Coach Marianne
The primary focus of Equipped with Strength (EWS) is fitness and well-being, but the driver behind this approach is deeply rooted in personal faith and values. What I value most is just being honest and getting to the heart of things, so let me be open with you now.
This is not a religious organization; all are welcome (many members are not religious and some are). But I am a "person of faith" and I cannot separate that from the way I do things. I feel compelled to state that clearly. But I also want to state that this is not a "come-to-Jesus" club (lol). It was something I considered - making it more faith-focused - but I've opted to make it values and purpose driven instead. My faith, therefore, is the wind in my sails.
That being said, the name of this organization is inspired by the following two Bible verses:
"She equips herself with strength [spiritual, mental, and physical fitness for her God-given task]"
~ Proverbs 31:17 (AMP)
"the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless"
~ Psalm 18:32 (ESV)
They resonate with me because together they reveal both the grace of God to take care of us, but also our responsibility to take care of ourselves.
The chapter in the Psalms seems to show King David reminiscing about his life, and how God has been with him, even through his greatest challenges. And the chapter proverbs seems to describe the personification of wisdom, like it's a woman who believes in her own inherent worth. This drives her to take care of her body, mind, and spirit for the greater purposes God has for her life, should she choose to step that way.
So, how does this relate to this fitness community?
Well, if you read my account in "The Cause", you'll see that there have been things over the years that have brought me to the end of where I thought my strength lived. I was in so much physical pain, mental distress, and powerlessness that, at times, I've wanted my life to end. I felt at my absolute weakest and lowest, but looking back, I can see that throughout that whole period of darkness, I was being equipped with the strength just to persevere. By responding, I was accepting my part in that process.
I think a lot of the people are struggling to reconcile the old and new realities of their life. Perhaps they sense shifts within their priorities but don't know how to respond. Some people are being hit hard with major challenges, big responsibilities, and lots of stress. And a common thread? They all think they're failing, or broken, or not doing enough, and they don't feel equipped to overcome it. So action gets put off, and the cycle continues.
When pain and depression took hold of me, and fitness fell by the wayside, I remember struggling to accept a loss of identity (I used to be super "in shape" and physically stronger than I am now). I would reminisce and ruminate about "the good old days" and how easy I had it, wishing for those times to return. An anger grew toward myself as I wondered "what's wrong with me!", "when will I ever get myself "on track". It seemed like one thing after another was derailing me, and when that happened, my inner chatter caused me to spiral even more.
I felt like SUCH a failure because I wasn't able to live up to standards of fitness, motherhood, business, or even my faith that I thought mattered. The little I could do never felt that it was enough. I couldn't see the forest for the trees, and I lived in a perpetual cycle of shame that, because I was doing less, I looked worse, and so: I was less. The shame caused me to hide behind the scenes, not quite knowing what I was meant to be doing with my life.
The crazy part? I actually was making progress. I just couldn't see it, because I was so focused on comparing myself to my old life, and others using this arbitrary measuring stick to define my own success. I was so focused on where I was NOT, that I couldn't see where I was. It was all about the outcome.
But the best part was how this time in hiding and facing the truth helped me realize that who I am now is more me, because the old me was a bit of a cover. I'm sure I still have covers, but I no longer have that one.
For a start, the push-ups I can do now mean far more to me than the personal bests I did at my "peak". I can see these represent a different kind of strength, the kind that doesn't seek praise, but expresses gratitude for the privilege of health and freedom of movement. Something I was longing for in those "in shape" days.
The name of this community acknowledges the strength it takes to face your reality, and choose to live forward even if it's not perfect. To take what you have and put it to work, even if it feels like nothing right now.
That's what it means to be equipped with strength. We all are, we just don't all believe it.
For me, I eventually realized that I was anything but a failure. Somehow, despite feeling like I was never doing enough, I hadn't given up. Perseverance (maybe stubbornness, too lol) and a sprinkle of hope were driving me forward.
I slowly began to value my efforts over outcomes. And I began to see even small, imperfect actions as successes.
There are times when each day feels like a struggle, and the last thing you feel like doing, even though you want to, is exercise. Yet you do want to be stronger and look after your health, but there's always weeds trying to tangle you up.
I think a lot of us get sucked back into wanting an outcome of what we used to have/be or just wanting NOT to have the outcome we have now, so it poisons our journey more, and the fire goes cold. We feel so far behind, it almost feels useless to get started.
But what if your perseverance could serve you to keep making small, imperfect actions forward into the next leg of your journey? What if the journey really can become the destination? Isn't your health, well-being and greater purpose worth leaning into that?
You can absolutely still make progress doing less than you used to! And if you see the value in your efforts, you'll be ahead of most other people in the fitness-rat-race.