I have been working out, off and on, for several years. When you have a sports medicine-guy husband, a personal trainer son, and a daughter who played volleyball through high school and college – and disciplines herself to work out several times a week no matter how busy she is – you make time to work out!
I love to do cardio! I love walking, running, and I own a rowing machine. I do a little bit of strength training, not because I love it, but because I know it’s important to include it in your routine as you get older. I’ll never be the poster child for what a fit, 50 something woman should look like, but I try to be consistent and stay in decent shape.
Not too long ago I decided to try Pilates. I did my research, found a DVD meant for beginners, and anxiously waited for it to arrive. It finally came in the mail and I quickly tore the box open so I could start my journey with Pilates. On the cover of the DVD I saw an attractive lady wearing a cute little outfit. Her blonde hair was perfectly styled and she was smiling.
“This doesn’t look THAT hard!” I popped in the DVD and began.
As I went through each exercise I noticed that the cute little lady who was teaching me Pilates was smiling, not sweating, her hair looked perfect, and she was in control of each move. Me? I got up half way through the workout and closed my bedroom door. I did not look like the lady in the DVD. I was not smiling, my hair was not perfect, I was not in control, and I was sweating…and grunting and groaning!
And when I woke up the next day I ached all over. I mean – it hurt to walk!
The lady in the video didn’t tell me THIS is how I would feel. She made it look easy AND she looked beautiful doing it. I had been completely uninformed. I imagined myself doing what she does with little effort.
The truth is, nobody would buy the DVD if there was a picture of me, lying half dead on the floor, on the front cover! How many people would watch a DVD if the teacher was sweating profusely, groaning, and had messed up hair? I know I wouldn’t! I like the image of that “perfect” woman and I want to believe that I can be her. With no pain and no sweat.
It can be the same way in the life of a believer. If you walk into a Christian bookstore you will see books with beautiful people on the covers. Books with answers. Often they make the Christian life appear to be something that isn’t very hard, or like all it takes is 5 simple steps and you will attain a level of maturity or have victory over that sin. Like exercise, though, the Christian life is painful. It’s hard. Knowing that God is there to give us hope, strength and purpose as we go through the trials is what makes us different from someone who does not know God. We are not promised ease or that we’ll always look beautiful, but that God will go with us through all that we face.
I often think of what believers who have persevered in their faith will look like at the end of our lives. I think that when we meet God we will be tired and worn out. Sweaty, weary, aching, but with grateful hearts knowing that we made it, and that God enabled us to persevere even when every muscle in our body may have yelled, “I can’t do this anymore!” or we felt like shutting the door so that no one could see how hard it was.
I would have appreciated it if at the beginning of the Pilates DVD the lady had said, “You need to know that this is going to be hard. In fact, right now I am sore. You will sweat and get tired, but you can do it. Remember that you will probably hurt tomorrow, but don’t give up. Pace yourself. It will be worth it in the end!”
Until we embrace the reality of this battle we are in, we won’t be able to fight effectively. When we accept and admit that hardship is a part of every season of the Christian life, and that we aren’t always going to look beautiful or live pain free, we can turn to rush to the aid of our fellow battling brother or sister.
When others observe our lives may they see a people who, although weary and aching, are persevering. May we be people who admit to each other that the Christian life is HARD but that we can persevere as we cling to the grace and strength that God provides.
I pray that I will practice the privilege of getting on the floor and sitting next to a weary brother or sister. That I will look them in the eyes and tell them that God is there to help them persevere…
And that I am too!