March 28, 2017

Strong, Brave and Free

During the spring of 2009, nearly a year after my youngest son was born, I crawled out of bed every morning feeling a little bit useless and a lot depressed. Guilt and shame haunted me, and I could not defeat the lies that oppressed me each day. I was overweight, but more than that, I was physically, emotionally, psychological and spiritually unhealthy. I don’t remember how I came to decide that I wanted to change my sedentary lifestyle, but once I decided, I joined Body & Soul Fitness.

After just my first session, I felt muscles becoming stronger and I held my head a bit higher. Between the noticeable changes to my body, and allowing the truth in the session’s music wash over me as I exercised, my mind was being transformed and renewed. I still wasn’t losing weight as I had hoped or expected, so I finally began to work out daily and eat a healthier diet.

After the August break, when I returned to Body & Soul Fitness for the fall session, my instructor, Jana Sutherland, was shocked by my transformation. I was thinner, but mostly I was much stronger and able to move in ways I had not been able to in the spring. Jana encouraged me to audition to be an instructor. I was overwhelmed by the idea that I might be even slightly qualified to do such a thing. I prayerfully considered this wonderful opportunity and applied. I cried tears over learning cues and choreography and editing my audition videos—I was definitely out of my element. I called Jana several times telling her I just couldn’t cut it. Before too long, though, videos were sent, and I was approved. The first time I had to cue a song in class, I was terrified; however, I quickly realized that the wonderful women in my class were my greatest cheerleaders. God has shown me over the years that I am absolutely unqualified to do this work, except for my utter dependence on Him.

Since that fall, I have gained and lost weight, eaten clean and eaten too many ice cream cones. What began for me as a physical battle--a desire to look better in my clothes--was God's way of leading me toward spiritual health. I am better able to combat lies of the enemy with truth revealed to me through worship & praise of our Father, all the while sweating and jumping and running.

There are times when God says, Go. Move. Do—times when I know in my spirit that it's time to step out of my norm and do something brave. Often it's in those times that God shows me my absolute reliance on Him and strengthens my faith to give me confidence to keep up the fight.

As an instructor, I often pray that my students will be brave and strong and free. I pray that we will know our worth in God’s Kingdom--that we understand that we are daughters of the one true King. If we could only grasp how great His love is for us, we would be empower us to put our love in action.

Brandi Schroeder is a youth pastor's wife and the mom of four wild young men. She has been co-teaching Body & Soul with several amazing Arkansas' instructors for nearly a decade, and she counts it a privilege to lead the amazing women in her class. She seeks to inspire women to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly, and she is passionate about spreading the Gospel to the nations.