Spiritual Lessons from Physical Training – written by Jana
First of all, you need to understand what a victory it is for me that I’ve been consistently exercising for three months now! I loved activity as a kid — running fast and climbing trees were two of my favourite things — but junior high PE class changed all that! (I’ve tried three times to start writing why, but there are so many reasons, it would take this post off-topic. So let’s just move on….) For decades, doing any kind of exercise has been something I don’t like and struggle to stay at it. Mostly, I don’t. Or didn’t.
Three months ago I finally admitted that I lacked the self-discipline to keep up with exercise on my own, and I started working with a personal trainer. The progress I’ve made in that time amazes me! And while I’m loving that clothes shopping is kinda fun again, the bigger victories for me have been in my thinking, and in my spirit.
Here are a few lessons I’m learning, that cross over from physical to spiritual:
- When moving forward becomes painful, I want to give up (especially if we’re talking running). But if I persevere through the pain, it goes away and then I feel better than I did before I started! And I’m more able to tackle that distance or that move or that weight again.
- Growth requires silencing — or at least ignoring — the old tapes in my head. Voices that have been there a long time saying, “You’ve always failed at this; this time will be no different.” And, “You look stupid when you do this.” Whether that’s feeling like a spaz (note: junior high word!) when I’m trying to do a new move, or being afraid people will think I’m weird when I talk about God, those old tapes need to be erased, and I need to put a new message in their place! “With God’s help, I can do new stuff — and get better at it!”
- This was new news to me: To make a muscle get stronger, you need to push it to the point of failure. When you’ve lifted a weight that you’re able to move at first, but then with repetition gets to a point where the muscle just plain gives out, that sends a message to your body: Hey, we need more strength here; send reinforcements! Likewise, don’t be surprised or discouraged when your faith “fails”, this is the point where God’s strength comes to build us up — IF you’ll I’ll lay down your my pride long enough to let Him!
- When you’re trying something new and hard, the trainer is there to suggest new tactics when you run up against a difficulty, to spot you if you do start to drop something (my trainer taught me this one), and to encourage you when the going gets tough. Pastor/teacher Chip Ingram talks about how, in the spiritual realm, we often feel like we just need to try harder, when what we really need to do is to train better. The training leads to improvement. And training works best with help! (See a bit of his teaching on this here, and here.) Likewise, God is your partner in your spiritual growth, He can send you new tactics or encouragement, and He’ll always be there to catch you when you fall. But He also sends others to help coach and encourage you along the way. Make use of them!
- There will be sweat! That’s okay! Maybe you’ve seen a jock type wearing a t-shirt that says, “Sweat is weakness leaving the body!” Likewise, there may be tears as your faith is stretched. But maybe tears are just spiritual sweat?!
Yours in Health and Happiness