Flexing My Jesus Muscle

Many thanks to those of you who have generously donated to Trinity Fitness Riverside for our annual fundraising challenge! Donations like yours ensure that Trinity Fitness is available to anyone who is willing to come, no matter their financial situation.  If you’d like to join the kind people making tax-deductible donations, please click here.

So, I know what you might be thinking: What in the world does Jesus have to do with working out? Jesus doesn’t care how big your biceps are. Burpees are not biblical.

And you’re right about that. You will never read in the Bible about the disciples throwing themselves on the floor, pushing themselves back up, and jumping for joy.

But I think Jesus has two things to do with working out, so I’d like to tell you about them, in case you’re still on the fence about donating to this organization.

One is pretty simple: Your body is a temple. You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). You are worth taking care of because your body is the dwelling place of the holy spirit. You shouldn’t trash it, nor should you neglect it. You will not get another in this life.

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The other is what I think of as flexing my Jesus muscle. I think sometimes, for many people (myself included), learning to trust Jesus is such a huge leap. I think: the things that I have in my life, I did that. If I want something, I need to make it happen. I think: I am in control here. And that control, that feeling of being the captain of my own ship– that’s hard to relinquish. But then when hard or unexpected things happen in life, and the ship I’m steering starts to sink, life looks very bleak. Not only am I disappointed in the events that have occurred, but my very sense of myself (as someone who can control the world around me) is lost.

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When I go to Trinity Fitness, though, I’m presented with a workout that almost without fail exceeds my actual abilities. I’m not an elite athlete, ‘case you wondered. But it’s not about that. It’s about taking a leap. It’s about learning to trust in the strength of the Lord when I feel weak. It’s about creating a habit of trust– working the Jesus muscle, and watching it grow stronger. There have been times I’ve walked in the door of the gym, checked out the workout on the board, and wanted to drive myself right back home and go back to bed. But instead I sit down and listen to a devotion from one of our trainers, we pray, and then we get started. Whether I finish or not, whether I set a personal record or not, how many rounds I complete– those are great to know, but the real test is what I do when things get hard. At Trinity Fitness, when things get hard, there is a community of people around reminding me to call on Jesus in difficulty.

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What can I say? I forget a lot.

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When I get there and see 50 wall balls on the board, please understand that I question my sanity.

By now I’m sure you realize that I am no theologian. I’m not a scientist either. But I do understand that in order to get stronger, I need to put my body to the test. After having been stressed, muscles grow stronger. In life, it’s the same. Faith is tested and then grows stronger. Trinity Fitness puts those two ideas together for me and for anyone who makes the choice to show up.

Now I’ll make one final point and let you get back to cat memes.

Sometimes in life, we need to be reminded of our strength.  But more often, we need to be reminded of our weakness. Because when we understand our weakness, we can learn to depend on the one who is strong.

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This is me understanding my weakness, 75 push-ups in.

Even if we need to re-learn that lesson three times a week at 5:30 in the morning.

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Onward & Outward

A little over a month ago, Lee’s sister Kaylan came home from DC to visit for a few days. She came over one afternoon because Mary Bullock had been begging Aunt KayKay to paint her nails. So, while I was making dinner, Kaylan was with the kids, and the next thing I knew, Tucker had lavender nail polish on his toes. He was delighted about this.

It’s so funny, you know, because if I look really closely at his toes now, I can still see bits of that lavender nail polish, and all I can think about when I catch a glimpse is that I’m stunned at how my life has changed in the last month.

I mean, practically, very little has changed. The children still wake up way too early in the morning and start demanding waffles and shows and water cups (with ice!!!! I said WITH ICE!!!!!). Diapers need changing, lunches need making. My car is still a rolling trash can.

I mean it. There is a week-old chicken nugget in one of the back seats.

But when I think of the world without my dad in it, absolutely nothing feels the same.

I’m not the same.

Most notably, I think, is this (and I hope you don’t take this personally): I am probably not listening to you when you talk. At most I am half listening. I will not remember most of what you said when I walk away.

The thing is– I’m thinking about my dad. It’s constant. It’s like I’ve pulled out all the dad files from my brain and strewn them on the floor. I can’t figure out how to put them back, and I’m not sure I want to, yet.

Like this: My dad was a songbird (I get this from him). But there were all these songs he sang growing up, and he would only sing one line of them. And they were old songs, so the only lines I had ever heard of these songs were the lines he sang. For example, whenever we exasperated him (which was often), he would sing Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz? And because I also have terribly exasperating children, they already know this one line of that song. But it occurred to me the other week that I didn’t even know what that song was or where it had come from. So I googled it. Turns out, it’s Janis Joplin. And it has nothing to do with exasperating children at all! Who even knew? And that made me smile and even laugh a little– I mean, my dad? Janis Joplin?

But when I’m not rolling around in my memory, I’m looking at the future without him and that is so much worse. You’ll know I’ve gone to that place because I’m looking at you like all is well– no really, I’m fine– and then WHAM I’m crying. Tucker will grow up not knowing my dad? That’s tough to accept. I can hear him just like he’s right next to me: COME HERE TO GRANDDADDY, TUCKA WUCKA!! But of course Tucker won’t remember that, and that part really sucks.

But you know what else I was thinking? I was thinking: all of you who have never met my dad, and my children, who will have little, if any, memories of him? There is hope for you. All is not lost.

Because:

If you’ve ever heard me sing one line of a song over and over and over again, until you want to smack me? And then instead of stopping, I start humming and/or whistling? That’s my dad.

If I’ve ever made you laugh? That’s my dad.

If I’ve ever told a story you thought would never ever finish and by the end you felt like you were actually there? That’s my dad.

If I’ve ever made you so mad you wanted to curse me? That’s also my dad.

If I have ever been so dadburn stubborn that you wished I would burst into flames? That’s my dad.

So, I might have to point him out in pictures to my children as they grow, but they’ll definitely know him.

At least a little.

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