An Exercise in Humility

I had my very first free personal training session a couple mornings ago. I thought it would be a brief tour of the facility, introducing me to the pieces of equipment that would blast away my fatty problem areas and perhaps a little product plug for the latest protein powder and how delicious and not-chalky it tastes.

Not so. The trainer, surprisingly, put me to work right away. He had me lifting weights and doing these horrible things called, “burpees”. I had heard of them and how they worked miracles in their grueling and terrible fashion and now I was going to do them.

I did just fine for the first few minutes, but as he had me alternating between weights and burpees, things went downhill very quickly. My awkward flopping to the floor and scrambling to hurl my body back upwards was quite a sight. I evoked all the grace and majesty of a walrus hefting itself onto an ice floe.

The rest of my training session was a hearty cocktail of physical contortion, pain and just a skosh of humiliation sprinkled on top. To make matters worse, my nose was runny from allergies so even before I was red-faced and gasping for air, I was crusty and probably blowing snot-bubbles every time I exerted myself.

An inspiring Rocky training montage it was not – “Gonna Fly Now” would not be the soundtrack of my performance. All my lurching and heaving was more suited to the sputtering of a Whoopee Cushion.

But whatever, that’s ok.

I care enough about losing weight right now that it really doesn’t matter to me that when I run on the treadmill, I look like I’m running under water. I don’t focus on the fact that when I jog, small vermin could surf on the rocking and rolling waves of my tummy fat. I really, truly do not worry about how awful I look and smell when I’m working out because I have a goal I’m trying to reach.

I’m sure my trainer had a good laugh after our session. There are probably some great jokes they’re cracking around the water cooler about my stunning failure.

When you care enough about change, you don’t worry about how weird it looks and sounds, who’s watching and what they’re saying. When becoming a different person matters enough, you throw pride to the wayside.

It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve looked like a weirdo in public. I’ve had plenty of people poke fun at my Christian beliefs and ridicule the way I live. But a few tasteless jokes and ignorant words are nothing compared to what some people suffer.

The world is never going to run out of hecklers and haters. There will always be someone eager to snuff out good and bring others down, but don’t let them steal your joy or your resolve. Good is worth fighting for, even suffering for. Never concern yourself with what people think when you’re on the right track.

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Waiting: When Months Turn Into Years

Every morning that I drop my son off at preschool, I join a procession of moms politely jockeying to be first in line to the classroom. It’s subtle, but I think it’s pretty clear that we are all anxious to leave our tiresome offspring in the hands of other capable adults. Maybe I’m projecting, but I think if we weren’t so hung up on what others thought, you’d see a lot of moms skipping and doing cartwheels on the way back to their cars and then speeding off with Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA” blaring and the windows down.  Off in the distance all you’d see is hair blowing wildly out the window like a flag declaring: Hallelujah, let freedom ring!

In this brood of mothers and children, there are a few put together mommies with their cute little hairdos, bright lipstick and shiny heels tapping along the walkway like a sprightly pony.

And then there are the rest of us.

Like a bunch of ashen zombies in yoga pants and fuzzy ponytails, we have tired and glassy eyes that tell of the unspoken horrors of trying to get out the door on time with small children.

I look at myself and other moms and I don’t recall as a kid thinking my mom looked this haggard. But I noticed recently in a professional family portrait, that maybe mom was a lot more frazzled than I remembered.

In this particular portrait, mom isn’t wearing any makeup and her hair is a bumpy mess of curls. But more obvious than the underdone appearance is mom’s bedraggled expression that read like a miserable groan: I have three kids.

I don’t have three, but even having just two children is stressful enough to have me looking like life grabbed me by the hair and jerked me around.

Kids are great and all but raising them is tough on the body and pummels the spirit.

I remember when my son was a baby, every so often I would have these internal panic attacks because it had been months since the last time I wrote, painted or played piano. I would freak out because I was desperately afraid that if I didn’t keep being creative, one day I wouldn’t be, even if I had the time.

I realize now that I wasn’t just anxious about losing my skills, I was afraid that I’d forget how to be “me” and become a faded and fragmented version of my old self.

Child-rearing isn’t the only occupation that can rough up one’s soul. There are many times in life that you might have to set aside normalcy and put off dreams in order to support others you love.

It’s been during these tough seasons that I have attempted to “have it all” and add and add until I felt “normal”. I Knew I couldn’t do everything one hundred percent, but I still wanted to give it a try. When that failed, then I’d opt for a more long-term strategy. Something more akin to what Oprah once said, “You can have it all – you just can’t have it all at once.”

Though this statement offers a positive perspective, it’s missing a source of hope. It’s based on human wisdom and plans. In Jesus I have real hope, and he cares about my soul, loves who I am, and even wants me to dream. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” That’s not just an optimistic mantra it’s a path to true happiness.

Right now raising my kids takes up more of my time than building my dreams. There is a lot of trading, settling, and going without and sometimes it’s gut-wrenching. God knows this and is prepared to take care of me when I’m tired and discouraged. I can look to scriptures like Isaiah 40:31 for encouragement, “But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.”

There are a lot of things that I have been waiting for and will likely keep waiting for a bit longer, like going back to school, writing fulltime and painting a few masterpieces.  Until those desires are fulfilled, I can depend on God to help me thrive during this waiting period and not merely survive.  No matter which approach I take, whether it’s achieving my goals by my own willpower or by God’s direction, it’s going to take time. So while I’m waiting anyway, I’m better off putting my trust in God.

Angie Derrick 9/24/2012 ©

 

 


  • I believe in Jesus, loving people, living fully and creating good things. Whether it's art, food or finding solutions, I am always in "creative mode". With this blog I hope to encourage and help others to live in whatever "mode" God has called them to.

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