Burpees. I hate them. And planks. And some evil contortionist thing called a Turkish getup, which I tried yesterday and nearly pulled my hip out of its socket. Never again.
You muscle girls know what I’m talking about.
Two weeks ago, I joined a gym. Let me explain what this means. I… joined… a GYM. I have not had a gym membership in over ten years, meaning, before children, back when my brain cells still functioned at optimal speed and my abs had not yet been stretched to hippo girth and back—twice.
Why torture myself? Well, you know, the same reason anybody does. I’m on this kick now to take care of me. You’ve heard me talk about it before, on the blog and in my book and on Facebook. We women spend a lot of time investing in other people. If we fall apart, who’s gonna cook the pot roast? Self-care is not self-indulgent. It’s necessary for the whole family’s sake. We’re worth it.
So. I eat right (mostly). I get adequate sleep (now that my children are past toddlerhood). I swallow a whole schlew of vitamins, and I use the fancy face cream. I carve out time for prayer and rest and vanilla lattes with friends. Good for me.
But, until now, one thing still remained. One commitment I’d been holding back.
I had to start exercising.
So I did.
Let me just say that I do not enjoy working out. I don’t like to sweat, I don’t like sore muscles, and I don’t like spandex shorts. (Can you wear LuLaRoe to work out? Somebody tell me.)
But. I do like the way I feel after I work out. My lungs breathe clearer. My body might ache but I can feel it getting stronger. I want it to get stronger.
Because right now, compared to the other, more experienced women in my exercise class, I am a total wimp. They’re adding weights to their sit-ups and I’m barely finishing. They’re holding two-minute planks and I’m trembling at 15 seconds. They’re punching the bag in hip-hop rhythm and I’m spazzing out like a giraffe on rollerskates.
It’s so easy to look at those women and think I’ll never get there. That I should just give up now because I’m so weak and they’re so strong. I’m a loser and this was a dumb idea in the first place. I’m taking my spandex and going home!!
But then yesterday one of the ladies told me, “A year ago, I couldn’t even do a jumping jack. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you improve.”
Really? I couldn’t picture it. Because this woman had just finished that two-minute plank. It was so hard. She was one of those rock star kickboxers I’d been so jealous of a minute earlier. I assumed she was just born strong.
But of course not.
None of us are born strong. We arrive weak and empty into this world. We know this—we raise children. Each one of us must grow “in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).
I hear a lot of women tell me, “I wish I knew my Bible like you do.” They say, “If I could just recall scripture like you can, then I’d be able to live my life better! I’d know what God wants from me.”
Ah. Let me tell you how I know so much about the Bible.
One day, I opened it. For the first time. And I started reading.
The next day, I read a little more. And the next day, and the next. I pondered what I read. I prayed about it. I asked questions and listened to sermons and took Bible studies. I soaked it up as a habit, little by little.
And now, only a dozen or so years later, I have some wisdom to show for it. But not a ton. Because just last week I met with three wiser friends to discuss John 3 (for fun, yes, that’s what we do) and they totally kicked my butt. These ladies pulled stuff out of scripture that I only wished I could see. I wanted to be like them—stronger in their knowledge, stronger in their faith.
There is always someone stronger.
Our job is to begin where we are.
Just like I’m doing right now at that blessed gym. I show up. I do the work. And a month from now, six months from now, a year—I will be a stronger version of myself. All the work will be worth the sacrifice.
And if you pick up your Bible today and start reading—just pick a book in the Gospels, or Proverbs or Psalms; you don’t have to understand it all yet, but simply ask God to reveal His wisdom to you—and if you do it again tomorrow and the next day and the next and so on. Then a month from now, six months from now, ten or twenty years from now—you will be stronger and wiser, too.
And somebody else will wonder how you got so smart.
And you’ll tell them.
I showed up.
I did the work.
And little by little, God shaped me.
Here’s the thing, ladies. The time will pass by anyway. Why not spend it investing in what matters long-term?
So if you see me at the gym, don’t laugh. I’m doing enough laughing at myself, believe me. But I won’t quit. And neither should you. Because every ounce of effort toward what God calls good—it’s worth it.
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).
Do you believe it?