Rolling Out of Love Versus Fear: What Motivates You?

It’s on. You put on your gi, tie your belt, step on the mat, line up, and wait in expectancy as the Professor begins pairing up the rolls that are to come. Your adrenaline is already pumping, and it is time to get your mind right. It is in these moments where we come face to face with what fuels us.

Are we motivated by not wanting to be tapped, to be better than our opponent, or to prove ourselves and gain respect from our teammates? Or is the over-riding theme of our practice the pure love we have for the art of Jiu Jitsu – to learn, improve, help others progress, and to be our best? More often it is the former.

Motives matter. They both reveal and influence the condition of our heart. Motives are shaped by our beliefs; they determine our behavior and feelings, as well as the direction of our training….and our lives. Our heart condition and thus motives are important to God.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. – Proverbs 4:23

Our actions on and off the mat can be categorized into two camps: being guided by love or dictated by fear. Both love and fear will influence us in ways like: who we choose to roll with, how hard or light we roll (and even warm up), if we show up to class on time, and so on.

On the mat, a signal that we are being motivated by fear is often when we focus on winning over technique. To illustrate: fear of failure can reveal itself when we choose to stay within our comfort zone of the tried and true during rolls rather than being willing attempt a newly learned technique that would risk creating an opening to get tapped. Fear of the unknown, and thus the need for control can manifest in someone muscling through a match with strength and explosiveness rather than taking the time to execute proper technique and learn from their training partners. Fear of rejection, and subsequently the need for acceptance, can result in not putting in the extra roll so as to quite while we are ahead and avoiding a loss – whereas losing a match is equated with losing the approval from the instructor or teammates. And the list goes on…

It is true that fear, and its cousin pride, can move us to action in ways that simple desire falls short. Fear of being mediocre can get us off the couch and to the gym, push us to push through to new levels, and achieve a sense of success. But ultimately fear (and pride) directs us down the wrong path, cornering us to where we will eventually hit a wall and reach a ceiling. While fear will get us to be productive (not the same as successful) and realize achievements, it will not lead us to true joy, lasting happiness or fulfillment.

Fear as a motivator cannot be confined to the mat just as it did not originate on the mat. Instead, fear is a seed, whether planted by some past hurt, lie or disappointment, that takes root in our heart and grows until it permeates every area of our lives; ultimately taking us captive. A consequence of fear in our lives is a lack of inner peace. Fear can mask itself as anger, defensiveness, or even passivity – all of which builds barriers and walls us off from connection, growth and joy. It is an unrelenting, underlying tension that may seem subtle, under control, or that we have become so accustom to it that we fail to perceive it – but it’s there.

Being driven by fear is so common that society ceases to recognize it as such, not to mention question its destructiveness, but rather accepts it as normal. It masquerades itself as criticism, skepticism, indecisiveness; it is often hidden within our pursuit for comforts and insurance. However, there is an alternative to fear.

Scripture tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8). And love, being the opposite of fear, has the power to set us free from anything that hinders us and to set us in our divine calling to walk out our God-given purpose individually and collectively.

Such love has no fear, because perfect love casts out all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love. – 1 John 4:18

God has provided us with a straight path that leads to strength, protection, victory and health. Through Jesus we are made new, made in the image of God – in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24, 2 Corinthians 5:17). As we experience God’s love and goodness we are transformed and set free from fear (Psalm 34:8).

For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind/self-control. – 2 Timothy 1:7

God has promised us that as we look to Him and walk in His ways that no harm will overtake us and no disaster will come near us (Psalm 91:10). When we turn from doing things our way and turn to obeying and relying on God, who’s ways and understanding our higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9), He has promised to forgive our iniquities and restore us to health and heal all of our wounds (Chronicles 7:14, Psalm 103:3). God assures us time and again that He is for us and with us, helping us in our weakness (Romans 8) and never leaving or forsaking us (Deuteronomy 31:6). Taking Him at His word, believing His promises and knowing that He is the same yesterday, today and forever should give us a boldness to live out of a place of courage and openness.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9

It is God’s love for us that sets us free from fear. We are released to live a life uninhibited to walk in the fullness of our purpose and potential, experiencing God more fully, and be used to impact the world and eternity for Him. We love because God first loved us (1 John 4:18). Now, let us make the choice to live on and off the mat out of love, not fear.

  • Written by Amy Passos

About Amy Passos

Amy is the Director of Operations for Team Passos Jiu Jitsu. She is a believer and witness that Jesus performs miracles and uses Jiu Jitsu as a tool to change lives. Amy has a background in business administration and international economic development. She is passionate about entrepreneurship and business as a way to advance human flourishing. She believes that the most beautiful thing in life is someone enjoying the work of their hands while pursuing their passions to realize their purpose and potential. Amy enjoys cycling, strength training, traveling and exploring life.

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