I have been working out for several years. I run, walk and do some strength training. I decided that I wanted to try Pilates. I did my research and found a DVD meant for “beginners.” Then I 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 outfit. Her hair was perfect and she was smiling as she exercised. “This doesn’t look THAT hard!” I popped in the DVD and began.
As I went through each exercise I noticed that she 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!) When I woke up the next day, I was aching ALL OVER. I mean, it hurt to walk.
The lady in the video didn’t tell me THIS is how it would feel. She made it look easy AND she looked beautiful doing it. I had been completely uninformed! When I looked at the DVD I saw a beautiful woman on the cover. I imagined myself doing what she does with little effort.
The truth is that not many people would buy the DVD if there was a picture of me lying on the floor on the front cover. How many people would watch a DVD if the woman was sweating, 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 “Christian” world. 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. Like exercise, though, the Christian life is painful. It’s hard. It doesn’t always feel good. Knowing that God is there to gives 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 we WILL face.
I often think of what we will look like at the end of “the Christian life.” I think that when we meet God we will be tired and worn out . Sweaty, weary, aching, but with gratefulness that God enabled us to press on 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 loved 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!” I’d rather know that you are tired just like me, and then we can help each other get to the end. I’d rather know what to expect so I can prepare myself to persevere. I love when I share with someone what’s REALLY going on in my life, and I hear them say, “Thank you for being honest! I am struggling too!” Then we can cheer each other on!
Until we can accept the reality of this battle we are in, we won’t be able to fight effectively. When we can accept AND admit that hardship is going to be a part of our Christian life, and that we aren’t always going to look beautiful or live pain free lives, we can also rush to the aid of our fellow battling brother or sister.
When others see us, may they see women who sweat and hurt, but who are persevering. Women who admit to each other that the Christian life is HARD, but that we can do it with God’s strength. Let’s practice the privilege of getting on the floor and sitting next to a weary saint, looking them in the eyes, and telling them that it’s okay to sweat and hurt, but that God is there to help: and so am I.
And may God be glorified as we persevere TOGETHER!