I had a moment tonight at the gym. For so many it might have been a defeating moment. I’ve been working out a lot this year and I feel healthier than ever. I’m stronger than ever. Between running, weight lifting, kettle bells, and eating decently (I still like the occasional soda and brownie…). And finally my hard work is paying off. Its an amazing feeling looking at yourself in the mirror and seeing your improvements. Its amazing when other people notice it as well.
Tonight while at the gym, I was pushing hard. I intensely did kettle bells- squats, swings, and dead lifts for about 40 minutes. Despite the gym still being packed, I was in the zone. In between my kettle bells I would do sets of 10 squat jumps. I decided tonight to increase the height to around 2 feet. I just started doing these jumps about a month ago and I am improving every time. But tonight my worst fear in doing box jumps occurred. After about 45 minutes of my circuit, going back and forth between kettle bells and jump squats, I went to do a jump and my foot got caught on the step, I think, or maybe I misjudged the step. But I came down crashing HARD. Like bruised my shin badly and almost busted my face hard. My legs were basically nearing muscle failure. They felt like jello. I regained myself and breathed for a moment. I thought, for a second, “did anyone see that?” and praying nobody did. Then I laughed. It was a simple yet profound moment for me. I could have stopped. I could have gone home to ice my shin right away…it was swelling and turned into a nasty bruise pretty quickly. I could have, but I didn’t. I didn’t want that to be how my workout ended.
I didn’t want to end in defeat.
I got back up from the floor, reset the equipment, and told myself I needed to do 5 more box jumps perfectly before I could be done. I ended up doing 7 I think. Why does that matter? Because sometimes, often really, in life we fall. We will crash. We might bust our face or our shin or simply our pride. It is so so easy to let the difficulties or failures or our footing become something that defeats us. And even more, we let the voices of others bring the same shame or defeat. We might get mocked or laughed at while in the midst of difficulty or failure. Others might look at us with concern but do nothing to help. Like I said, it is so very easy to look at what has happened, or see our mistakes or look upon failure as a sign to stop, give up, give in, or quit.
Friend let me tell you this. Do not quit. Don’t give up. If you are going through a major difficulty, something out of your control, breathe. Find people to help you along the way. But if you are going through a failure or a mistake, something you can control, stop sitting on the floor looking at your bruises. Stop seeing the defeat before you. And get back up. There might be people mocking you. There might be the nay-sayers in your life that tell you that “you can’t”. There might be the people who laugh at your fall. Don’t be discouraged by those voices. Be encouraged by the only voice that actually matters: God. He loves you massively. He adores you. When you make a mistake, when you sin, when you fail, he does not see you as defeated. He sees you as human yet fully capable in him. I’ll be even more honest tonight. Recently I have had conversations with friends of mine, a few specific incidents actually, where the person slipped up and made some mistakes and poor choices. There might be tangible consequences- the symbolic bruise or busted face- but they made a choice or mistake. The conversations I have had with a few of those individuals are ones where they speak of such shame and defeat and believe that in no way could God love them. I remember feeling such shame and defeat. I remember thinking that I was too messed up for God to love me. I also remember the feeling of freedom when I finally, truly received God’s love, on more than one occasion…my metaphorical getting back up.
You see, our walk of faith is not unlike that of fitness and health. You don’t just arrive at being healthy and fit. You work at it every day. You work on form, increase weight or intervals overtime, increase distance, and more. You choose to make better choices and even some sacrifices. You choose to pursue it. And like me tonight and in relationship to our faith, when you make a mistake and end up hurting yourself, or sin or disobey, you have a choice. You can continue to wallow in whatever the mistake was and be defeated by it, or you can get back up and keep working on it, even with your bruises. You might get up limping. You might make the mistake again. You might fall again. But you keep trying. God is by your side cheering you on. Ignore the voices that oppose his. Whatever you might be struggling with, choose to keep pressing forward. Choose to keep pushing. Your faith is a journey of daily becoming closer to God and stronger in him, just like when we workout. Overtime, you’ll begin to see your hard work and faithfulness pay off and then you’ll be able to look at the journey and see from where you came.