When challenges, troubles, or opportunities enter your life, are you burdened with limiting thoughts of self-doubt, fear, and impossibility? How can you train your mind to biblically conquer uncertainty, beat insecurity, and step past the tragedies of yesterday?
Bible Gateway interviewed Kelly Balarie (@kellybalarie) about her book, Battle Ready: Train Your Mind to Conquer Challenges, Defeat Doubt, and Live Victoriously (Baker Books, 2018).
Why did you write Battle Ready?
Kelly Balarie: For a large part of my life, I wished my life away. I’d go through one issue, get to the other side, then decide, here, I can finally be happy. The reality is, while I’d never admit it, I subconsciously believed—on the other side of my issue—was real happiness. When God really provides for me, then, life will be good.
What a lie. Trials kept coming. I experienced things like depression, financial debt, relational problems, housing issues, and health concerns. Just as I got through one issue, another would hit. God kept “doing it to me.” God, where are you? God, what happened? God, what am I doing wrong? Why are you doing this to me?
After experiencing so much tiredness and weariness from battle, I finally got to the point where I proclaimed, If Jesus died for me to have life, shouldn’t I really have life? If I’m a new creation, shouldn’t I be beyond my old ways? If God is good, won’t he really help me?
I knew it was time to transform my thoughts—my outlooks, attitudes, and beliefs—so Jesus could get access to transform my life.
Battle Ready is a 12-step field manual to help us seize the mind of Christ. Included are practical how-tos, biblical tips, habit-changing wisdom, and personal life-story explorations to help people like me to move from doubt, despair, and dejection to new faith.
We really can experience the fullness of transformation that Jesus talks about. I’m an example. Although, I’m not perfect by any means, I do have greater faith, confidence, and strength. Even today I’m in the heat of a battle, but I feel full of joy.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:12 NKJV).
You mention we can proactively get ahead of battles rather than reacting emotionally charged throughout them. How, when you feel hopeless?
Kelly Balarie: Hopelessness is really difficult. I’ve been there. I remember sitting in a medical office with the deep fears that, before long, I wouldn’t be able to walk anymore. I remember being so focused on my issue, I could hardly see the world around me anymore. The struggle is real. Real hard. The emotions can feel unbearable.
Yet, power for me has come in recognizing what feelings are. They’re like passing waves. One moment, they’re huge. They might clobber you. The next, they’re small. You’ve ridden them out. We truly can let the waves of feelings ride out in a way that they don’t rule us. How? We give them a couple of days to run their course without acting on them. We acknowledge them, but don’t immediately act on them. We run ahead of them, so as not to be weighed down by their burdens. We bring them to the cross to get Jesus’ outlook on what we face. These things all help us become proactive rather than reactive.
To proactively get ahead of your problem is to not allow your emotions to get bigger than your God. We can make our emotions bow down under:
- the truth of God’s Word
- his promises
- his wisdom that trumps our assumptions.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” (Heb. 12:1 NIV).
What is a buffet mindset? You mention it can change our lives tremendously. How?
Kelly Balarie: My son, like any kid, loves a good treat. Yet, he’s not the best sharer. If you try to take a little bite of his sundae he’ll scoot his plate away from you. Don’t mess with my son’s food. With the little bit of sweets we give him, he keeps stuff to himself.
One day, we brought him to a buffet at a hotel. The spread was gigantic and I told him, “Son, get whatever you want. You can hit the buffet multiple times.”
An amazing thing happened. He stopped hoarding the food! He stopped keeping it to himself. He said, “Mommy, have some; you have to try this. His smile was huge.”
Likewise, when we believe God has enough resources—enough time, money, talent, and goodness for us—our whole outlook changes. We love others more. We give more. We receive God’s goodness, teachings, and help more easily.
God has a buffet of love set before us. He doesn’t hold back his love, guidance, or care. He’ll be faithful to abundantly equip us no matter what we face. We can choose to see the fullness of God, rather than lack and insecurity. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10 NIV).
You’ve learned to take a mind vacation. What is it and how do we do it?
Kelly Balarie: Have you ever found it hard to relax on vacation? This usually happens when we first arrive to a new location. It takes about three days to settle in, to let go of our worries, and to get a new view of our surroundings. Likewise, when we’re in the heat of an issue, we can’t see clearly. Our minds are usually clouded due to heated emotions, bitterness, and frustration.
Just as a vacation gives us space from our world, we need to gain space from our problems. Only with ample space do we create room for God to show us his truth, wisdom, and perspective. Only when we remove the self-condemning words, self-judgment, and frustration at our actions do we begin to see things clearly.
A mind-vacation allows us to hear the words Jesus might want to say to us if he were with us. We gain clarity about what to repent of and we also gain perspective on how to move forward. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus….” (Rom. 8:1 NIV).
Explain the connection between the mini-mind and the mind. How does this change how we approach trials or hard circumstances?
Kelly Balarie: Indeed, we must mind our mind. This means we must think about what we’re thinking about. Yet, beyond this, we must also mind our mini-mind: our heart.
You can begin to mind-your-heart by asking yourself questions like these:
- What’s the heart-motivation behind this action?
- What pain of the past may be driving me to react this way?
- Do I need to forgive anyone today (including myself)?
Our heart drives our thoughts, which, in turn, impacts the actions played out in our life. We must become closely aware of our mini-mind happenings. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Prov. 4:23 NIV).
How do we exchange our “always have” responses for “now can” redirects?
Kelly Balarie: What is it you’ve always done, but no longer want to do? Deeply consider it. Write out a new approach. Think through what the fruit will be, what success will look like, and what might transpire after you’ve seen it through. Write this down as well. There’s a longer, more detailed plan in the book, but this is a great way to get started.
What are some of the insecurities you’ve faced? Why does being spirit-filled make a difference?
Kelly Balarie: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor. 3:17 NIV). Anything done apart from the spirit leads to death. Anything done full of the spirit brings us to life, liberty, freedom, and love. I’ve learned to think-past my feelings, my lack of abilities, and the many ways “I can’t do stuff.” To think past these things is to submit my thoughts to the Spirit and to be ruled by the mind of Christ. It’s to pray. It’s to seek. It’s to want God more than anything else. It’s to hunger and thirst for righteousness.
What advice can you offer the woman who feels lost, abandoned by God, or overwhelmed because she’s enduring one pain after another?
Kelly Balarie: What is coming against you, God will use for you. Look for the goodness of God in the land of your living. Those who seek God, find him. Those who call, are answered. God is near to the brokenhearted. Do not dismay. Jesus is conqueror, restorer, and rescuer. He came to die for you. With this, how much more won’t he do for you, as you trust him?
How can life-long engrained habits be changed?
Kelly Balarie: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17 NIV). While there’s a whole plan for changing habits in Battle Ready, I think I’d do you harm without first stating: all change comes from God and is gifted from God. It’s not ours to work up. The first step of change is surrender and prayer. Start here. Ask God. He still gives out good gifts.
What’s the most important takeaway from reading Battle Ready?
Kelly Balarie: The immensity of God always trumps the intensity of problems. This breeds fresh faith, trust, confidence, and life. This truth changes lives when applied. I’m seeing this in-action. Readers of Battle Ready are being transformed. People are putting on work-out shoes, changing habits, renewing their mind, approaching problems differently. They’re seeing more and more from God’s point of view rather than their earthly one. I praise God for this.
What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?
Kelly Balarie: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13 NKJV).
Jesus gives strength.
I do things.
I get more strength.
I keep doing things.
I get more strength.
I can do all things.
The strength he wants to give me never ceases.
Love keeps going out.
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App and Bible Audio App?
Kelly Balarie: Drink it like you drink water. Come to the fountain morning, day, and night. Let the Living Water change your heart, mind, and soul, so that you love God with all your strength. The Bible Gateway App will change your life if you let it.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Kelly Balarie: Customize your own daily battle plan for free at www.iambattleready.com. There you can also take the Battle Ready-Style quiz to help you identify the specific ways to fight the enemy and to stay close to God.
Bio: Kelly Balarie, author of Battle Ready: Train Your Mind to Conquer Challenges, Defeat Doubt, and Live Victoriously and Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears, is a passionate national speaker who has spent nearly ten years leading groups of women in spiritual growth, marriage building, and general Bible studies across the nation. She has lived her subject matter. Her faith was built as she battled through a debilitating eating disorder, depression, multiple sclerosis testing and concerns, company failures, family deaths, job losses, and times without income or money. Throughout difficult circumstances, Kelly has looked past the pain to uncover the beauty of God’s always-developing purposes for her life. Her greatest desire is to share this treasured beauty with other women who need a fresh drink of God’s grace and restoration. Kelly is a featured blogger at Crosswalk.com and iBelieve.com. Her work has been featured on Relevant, (in)courage.me, and was also the cover story on Today’s Christian Woman. She lives with her husband and two toddlers near the sun-soaked shores of the East Coast. Get all Kelly’s blog posts by email or visit her on her blog, Purposeful Faith.
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