I learn a lot about myself and my faith walk in the gym. Just typing that statement is somewhat comical because I am NOT a 'work out girl.' I enjoy being healthy and active, but I do not enjoy being pushed physically, sweat or pain. (Oh, the irony and the application to so many other parts of life.)
I have realized working out is a head game for me. My body is certainly not the strongest, but it is my will and determination to suck it up and stick it out that gets as much stretching as my muscles most days.
When I am in the midst of a challenging work out, I escape the difficulty of the task by going into my head. Face down on a sweaty black mat, hair torn loose from my ponytail and snot hanging from my nose, I am stripped of my pride. Out of my weakness, the Lord reveals truth to me.
I work out three mornings a week with a friend. Each day when I arrive there is a stretching/warm up routine, then she kneels either over a small white board or with chalk on the gym floor and writes numbers. I watch closely, keenly aware that the fate of my next 15 minutes (and a few days of muscle soreness) are in her hands. This morning, the numbers overwhelmed me by their volume. (Don't laugh if you are athletic...I already mentioned I am not :)
I was assigned ten rounds today. With one exercise I was instructed to do less each round and with another I did more each time. I couldn't resist the comparison to the various stages of our lives. Dialing up & dialing down challenges through different seasons. More patience and less hard driving here. More independence and less hand holding there. More listening, less talking. Relationships and life demand constant adjustment.
I realized how much counting up versus counting down I do in other parts of my life.
"I've marked x things off the list" versus "I have x more tasks to complete today."
"I only have 9 more years with kids at home" versus "We've made it through 9 years of parenting."
It seeps into so many elements of our thought life. Are we counting our blessings or our struggles? Are we rejoicing over how far we've come or lamenting at the journey still to come?
It was an interesting inventory for me. I thought about what this could mean in my marriage and motherhood. Am I counting up accomplishments along the way or counting down so I can cross the finish line and fall into an exhausted heap on the ground. Frankly, it depends.
In real life, most of the challenges we face don't come numbered. We cannot see a goal of how much farther there is to go--just that we aren't there yet and we must keep going. And this is the place I came to in my workout this morning. I stopped looking at the chalk numbers and just tried to concentrate on one movement at a time--and doing that next thing as well as I could. I know this flies in the face of all coaching on goal setting, but it worked for me when the going got tough. Instead of being overwhelmed, I was able to focus. One thing at a time.
I thought of the Lord as my trainer, marking out each morning the "works, which He prepared in advance" for me to do. I was reminded of the Scripture that teaches "all the days ordained for me were written in His book." I was challenged that even though I don't get to know the number of 'rounds' in advance or what exercises each which require, He does.
May we not be so consumed in how much longer, how much farther, how many more, are-we-there-yet mentalities but instead pray diligently for grace for each moment--and give each day our all.
This occurred to me as I was physically exhausted, frazzled and flat on my belly on a stinky mat--but I pray the Lord will remind me when I am feeling that way emotionally too.