“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
“How are you doing?” the smiling young man asks.
“Just great!” I say through my breathlessness and sweat.
“Good. Let’s do 3 more.” says my encourager.
“Sure thing.” I reply. All the while in my mind I am screaming, “Are you crazy?? I am dying. I can’t do even 1 more!”
But I keep going with a pasted smile on my face, and pain ripping through parts of my body that I did not even know I had. “God, when is this going to end?”
Welcome to my Thursday morning folks. And my Monday afternoons. Times in which I pay good money for someone half my age to torture me into, what I am promised, will be a brand new way of life. A life filled with self-satisfaction, unending energy, and some rocking’ abs.
Yes, I am working with a personal trainer.
For those of you who know me, I know what you are thinking. “It’s about time.” And you all would be right. Over the past few years, it has been increasingly difficult for me to maintain my weight and my exercise levels. I have been lying to myself for a while, telling myself that I could regain my former body if I would just focus on it. But the truth is, I am so far gone at this point, that I really need some help.
Enter my trainer, Jeremy Martin. A man who finds new and excruciating ways every week to help me conquer my Michelin man shape.
So how come I have let it get this far? Why didn’t I just start sooner? The PAIN! That is why. When you are as bad off as I am, you know it is going to be incredibly painful to correct the situation. And also the EMBARRASSMENT! There is nothing like walking into a gym filled with good-looking twenty somethings. You know them. The women who wear really cool exercise clothes (the stretchy kind that aren’t made to fit people my size) and makeup to work out in. The girls that sprint on elliptical machines and can actually do real pushups.
Yes. I have been on this merry go round before. And the players are always the same. The pretty girls that could probably eat donuts for breakfast and never gain an ounce, the trainer promising me that pain really is gain, and me: wheezing and groaning my way through another horrible experience. Good Times!! So you could say I was a little hesitant to try again. But what choice did I have? I am in my mid-40’s and staring down a family history of heart disease and diabetes. So I am trying again.
But this experience is so much different than those in the past. Jeremy is a great guy and a wonderful trainer and he actually makes me want to go back each day even though I am wiped out when we finish. Here are some of the things that I have found different with him from those I have worked with in the past:
1. He is an encourager; not a criticizer.
2. Although he pushes me to do more, I am never at the point where I want to quit.
3. If something isn’t working for me, he finds another way that possibly will.
4. He makes me feel good about what I am doing. He keeps me moving in the direction of my goal. I believe I might actually make it this time.
So what am I learning during this experience? Maybe it is the guide (or partner) that makes all the difference.
You know, I think it is the same way in our walk with God. For many of us, we have been away from Him for so long, that we honestly don’t know how to come back. We fear the pain or embarrassment of coming face-to-face with Him in the midst of the lives we have created for ourselves. We are afraid of his judgment, or quite possibly, the judgment of the church for our slackness.
Many times we fear the pain of change. If I have been living a lifestyle far from His plan, it will surely be painful to allow Him to cut those things out of my life. I believe that is very true. Which is why we need a friend to journey with us. We need someone who will encourage us on that journey and push us where we don’t want to go. And it can’t be just anybody. It has to be someone, like Jeremy, who knows the end result that we need and exactly how to get there.
Friends, making life changes (even the most positive ones) is extremely hard. We may do fine by ourselves on our good days. But what about the bad days? The days when we are weak or don’t feel good. The days when our old nature is calling us back to the couch and the chocolate cake? Those are the days when we are most at risk. They are also the days that a good support system is the difference between being victorious and backsliding into old habits.
I encourage you today. If you want a strong and healthy relationship with our Savior, make sure you have some folks around you that can be mentors, teachers, prayer partners, and guides. Find those people that are truly walking the walk, that they might be encouragers to you when you reach a stumbling block. Be with people that care about your success more than their own.
Don’t try to do it alone. Your risk of failure is so much higher without an accountability partner. And your relationship with Christ is the most important one you will ever have. Accept the blessings He is providing you through godly friendships. And don’t let your pride convince you that you don’t need anyone else. That is most definitely a lie that we have tricked ourselves into believing.
For a while now, I have been able to trick myself into believing that my health was fine. But if I look at the evidence, the scale, the blood pressure cuff, etc, I can’t lie to myself any longer. And I have to admit that I can’t fix this problem alone. If we truly are honest with ourselves about our spiritual health, it is pretty easy to see if we aren’t where we would like to be. Maybe we don’t have the peace we would like in our lives. Maybe our relationships aren’t as satisfying as they could be. Maybe there just isn’t a lot of joy in our days. These are all signs that we may need some help making that vital connection with the author of the abundant life.
If you live in the Birmingham (Alabama that is) area and need some help with finding that person, please get with me. It would be my joy to connect you with people that can do life with you and be encouragers. If you live elsewhere, visit your local pastor and ask about small groups ministry. If you are seeking godly friends and relationships, He will surely provide them for you. It is God’s greatest desire to have a relationship with you, and He is already at work creating an environment to help you take that first step.
It is my prayer today that each one of you would find an be blessed by a true friend in the faith. That you would grow in your faith, strengthened and encouraged by someone who will pray with your best interest in mind, and counsel you according to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Where two or more are gathered, may Christ be alive and engaged in your midst.
Peace my friends.
ps. If anyone is looking for an outstanding trainer on the physical side, go look up Jeremy at LifeTime Fitness. I know you will be just as blessed as I have been in working with him.