Six years ago when I started my “Eat, Love and Pray” journey, I decided to join a gym. That first gym was a small one, in a shopping plaza. I walked in and everyone there was buff. Super buff. I should’ve looked around before signing on the dotted line, but I didn’t. Instead I gave them my money and got excited about my potential future of fitness. It was hard for me to go alone. I kept telling myself “You got this!”.. but the stares of those who looked at me as if to say “Why is she here?!? She obviously knows NOTHING about fitness” would discourage and intimidate me. No one ever was kind enough to say “Hi! Good to have you here. Do you need help with any of the equipment?” Nope. I was on this journey alone in a room where I didn’t belong. I cancelled my membership and swore off the gym scene. I was “gym hurt”.
I justified my choice to stay away from the gym because friends would tell me “You are thin. You’re fine. You don’t need to go to the gym.” Well, clothes hide a lot and if you could’ve seen my heart? It was very out of shape!
A year or so later a friend talked me into at least just visiting Planet Fitness with her. Reluctantly, I went. This time I looked around. There were people of all shapes and sizes, all at different levels of physical fitness, all on the same journey with the same common end goal – to become more physically fit! Some needed cardio for their hearts and would spend a lot of time on the treadmills. Others needed to strengthen backs or rehabilitate a recently operated on knee. And then I saw the sign “Judgement free zone”. The staff was friendly and encouraging. Hmmm…. maybe I’ll give this gym thing another try…. So I did. And I loved it! And I went every day for like, 2 months. And then life got crazy. Long days at work. Time with friends. Ministry work. Church events. Family events. All were “good things” but they all slowly took the place of the gym. My physical health once again started to suffer… I kept saying “I’ll go back, I’ll go back.…” but I never made the time.
This past weekend marked 4 years since I had joined Planet Fitness. Every month that auto payment came out of my checking account. I decided I could use that money in my checking account, and I was wasting it by paying for something I didn’t use. I called the gym and they said in order to cancel, I had to come in person to sign paperwork or send a certified letter through the mail. Smart PF, very smart. I walked in the gym to sign on that dotted line to cancel and then I started to look around. I hadn’t been there since the remodel. There was nice new equipment installed, people of all shapes, sizes and fitness levels. The young man working obviously saw my hesitation and took the opportunity. “You haven’t been here since the remodel? How about you let me show you around…” As he did I started to get hope again. Get excited. Summer is just around the corner and I want to be able to put on a bathing suit this year. I can do this! I can reach that goal I’ve had set in my heart and mind for the last 6 years. I got this!! So today? I start my journey, again. Failure is never defeat if you pick yourself up and try again.
As I drove away from Planet Fitness that day I saw in the column outside, Psalm 118:22 “The stone the builders rejected became the corner stone”. I knew I was at the gym I needed to be to start this journey. And then? Like the Lord always does, he started the download. I love when He takes the every day events and speaks to me in parables. Follow me as I share what he laid on my heart…
Just like you got “gym hurt” some of my children out there have been “church hurt” by those bound in religion instead of relationship. Remind them that the church is a hospital for broken people. Remind them that they are there to seek ME not the approval or acceptance of others. Remind them they are to forgive easily and not get easily offended. And when they seek me with their whole heart? I will bring them good friends to encourage them, just like I did for you.
We can be in the best gym ever, friendly people on the same journey, in different stages, who will share tips and secrets of what has worked for them. We can access the trainer who will give us a regimen to follow. But we can’t just be in the gym, listening to everyone around us and get healthier or more physically fit. We have to SEEK IT FOR OURSELVES. We have to be committed to the journey. We have to push ourselves to the limit and then push some more. And then as we start becoming physically fit? We can then be the one who encourages the new comers. It’s the same way with church and our spiritual journey. We can be in the best church, full of the friendliest Christians who encourage, inspire and speak life into us. We can have a Pastor who is on fire and preaching the truth. But just sitting in the building, listening, won’t make us Spiritually fit. We have to SEEK IT FOR OURSELVES! We have to be committed to the journey. To read and pray at home. To listen for His voice and hear from him ourselves. And then? As we start to build our spiritual muscles? We become the encourager for the baby Christians.
People told you that you didn’t need to go to the gym because you “looked good”. But you knew on the inside your heart wasn’t good. You knew that your clothes were hiding a lot. There are many of my children out there hiding behind alcohol, fancy clothes, a fake smile and things the world tries to offer for peace that never quite fulfills the soul. They look good on the outside. But inside? They are lost, hurt and dying slowly. They are not spiritually fit. They need me. They need the peace and hope I have to offer. Tell them about me. Tell them about the “remodel” I did in your life. Get them excited, give them hope.
I hope you leave this blog today feeling the same way I did as I drove away from Planet Fitness last week. Ready to try again. Knowing that no matter how many times you’ve started your spiritual journey and then stopped? Failure isn’t final. As long as you’re breathing? It’s never to late to start once again. If you haven’t talked to Jesus in awhile? Why not start today. He will hear you wherever you are – just bow your head and say “Help me get started” and He will meet you there.