My feet are frozen ice pops without socks to warm them, but I suffer through the discomfort. I’ll just think warm thoughts. My chai tea has cooled, making it an unappealing room temperature, but this one time, it’s okay. I’ll just drink it anyway. I can hear the tune announcing the end of the dryer cycle. Those towels need to come out for this afternoon’s swim team practice. I guess the boys can just grab them straight from the dryer. My bladder is full and my stomach is empty and growling, but none of that matters.

I am unable to move. Every muscle in my body is fatigued and sore. Wall sits with hammer curls rendered my legs a useless wobbly mass of limbs. (Wall sits are just the torture you might be imagining–pretend to sit in a chair by sliding your back down the wall, hold for one minute which will feel like an hour, and repeat three times.) Squats with shoulder press, pushups, and tricep press with calf raises left my body unable to move beyond the mere lifting of fingers for typing. (I may never wash my hair again. It’s just too much work to reach my head.) Five hundred sets of planks in one class (I could possibly be exaggerating) make me dread sneezing. Remember Buns of Steel? Instructors at the gym still use those dreaded exercises. Guess what comes before getting buns of steel? Burning buns. Buns that lack any comfortable sitting arrangement. I am foregoing any further movement for the day; I can do without anything upstairs, in the kitchen, or even in the bathroom (no more liquid of any kind for me, thanks).

While my muscles may be crying out in agony and I may be confined to this seat for the foreseeable future, there is some good news. I can tell I am getting stronger. Exercises that were beyond my ability a year ago, are now easier. When I brush my teeth, a bicep is visible without me flexing. I don’t have to call my husband or teenage son to open a jar. (Okay, so I still do but that’s only because I know they both love to be the hero coming to the rescue.) I can lift more weight, endure cardio longer, and stabilize myself better. (I used to fall over immediately whenever we had to do an exercise on one foot … okay, even on lunges.)

I almost wish I could be sore and fatigued in other ways. What would it feel like to have my brain be sore? Wouldn’t it be helpful to know if you’ve increased your weight factor in your devotions, prayer life, and Scripture memory?

This one guy at the gym–we’ll call him Stud–used to do a thousand bicep curls in front of the mirror. Every time Stud lifted the bar, he kissed it. I’m talking a loud smacker. I glanced over at him the first time to figure out what he was doing. Stud looked at me, curled his lip, raised his eyebrow, and did the guy nod. The cinnamon raisin bagel I had for breakfast threatened to come back up. Two other guys–we’ll call them Jacked and Ripped–spotted for each other on the bench press. You know, Jacked held his hands just under the bar while Ripped struggled to push 800 pounds off his chest. The problem was Jacked was a lot smaller than Ripped who was losing the battle with the bar. Just like a car accident, I couldn’t look away. Ripped was surely about to crush his diaphragm and I couldn’t see how Jacked could save him. Every time I thought Ripped was a goner, he yelled out like he was giving birth and pushed the bar up. Jacked, responded with a deep booming “Yeah! One more!” straight from the bowels of his belly.

Following the example of these clearly passionate gym rats, I could kiss my Bible and hold it up every time I memorized another verse? Or along with “in Jesus name, amen” I could grunt with enthusiasm. Now that I think about it, I was pretty uncomfortable–and pretty embarrassed for Stud, Jacked, and Ripped–in the gym so maybe I won’t do any of those things after all.

Discipline in physical training leads to pain. Discipline in spiritual training is no less painful, but the reward is worth it.

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 (NLT)

It’s time to push yourself beyond what you’ve been lifting spiritually. Let me be your cheerleader in the faith. You can do it! Surrender yourself to God to be grown and stretched. If I can summon the strength to lift my arms, I’ve got a high-five waiting for you.

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