As an athlete, nothing feels more satisfying than sore and achy muscles after a tough workout—especially after leg day. You know that you’ve worked hard when you can’t sit down on the toilet without wincing or falling over in pain. (Sorry for the potentially disturbing visual.)
When I head back to South Africa, my soccer season will begin and I am sooooo excited to get back onto the field with my teammates. Funny story though, my season literally begins the weekend I arrive. With that being said, I needed to get my butt whipped into shape… like several months ago. But hey, better late than never, right?
These past few weeks have been full of tight glutes, smelly gym clothes, and awkward sports bra tan lines. My days have been filled with interval sprints, squat racks, and plyometrics – and let’s not forget about the actual soccer part. Cone drills and cruyff cuts have invaded and taken over my dreams at night, but honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The coolest part about my training regimen is that God shows up and joins me every time I step into the weight room or out on the field. I’ll be in the middle of doing interval sprints and then BAM, “Oh hey God, what are you doing here?” It amazes me that He can use strength and conditioning workouts to teach me valuable and spiritual life-lessons. I never knew that interval sprints could be so insightful (and painful, but mostly insightful). It’s one of the things that I absolutely love about God. He really does have His hand in everything, and He can use anything to teach us, shape us, and grow us outside of our comfort zones. Whether it’s a sport, a job, a chore, or a family member. He’s super creative that way.
So, while my legs were shaking and my pulse was racing, God was busy teaching and convicting. He taught me two things that I’d love to share with you guys:
- Firstly… God asked me why I don’t exercise my spiritual muscles the way I exercise my physical ones? Eventually, I am going to get old and wrinkly, and at about 80 years old, I highly doubt that I will be worried about having a “bikini body.” In fact, I think my biggest concern will be having a body that works well enough to get me to the refrigerator and then back to the couch. So why am I spending so much time investing in what is “temporary” instead of investing in what is “eternal?” Boom. Heart check. When I meet God face to face, I want Him to know me. I want Him to call me by my nicknames, and I want to be able to joke with Him about all of those awkward and glorious moments when we cried and sang and laughed together. He’s not going to care about how fast I could run or how flat my abs were. So, I realized in that moment, that it’s all about balance. I need to keep my body (my temple) holy, pure, and in tip-top shape… but I also need to keep my prayer life and my relationship with the Lord in tip-top shape as well. Plus a sobering thought: He gave me this body, so He can always take it away!
- Secondly… God reminded me that I need to see this pre-season training and this “waiting” period (before I fly out to South Africa) as a HUGE blessing. Let me be honest… I am one of the most impatient people in the universe. No, really. It’s terrible. So when God told me to wait a few more months before returning to the mission field, you can assume that I wasn’t too “keen.” In other words, I was a tad bit pissed off. But as always, God had a reason. He knew that I would need to prepare my body, my heart, my spirit, and my mind for the challenges and adventures that I would be facing in the future. He knew that I would need the three days a week on the track and the two days a week in the weight room to get my body into the best shape possible, so that I would be able to glorify Him to the best of my ability on the soccer field. He knew that there would be so much more for me to learn before I go—that there would be more money for me to raise, more people for me to meet with, more blogs for me to write, and more time for me to spend with my family. I wanted to rush out, but God needed me to stay. So this specific season is meant to prepare me and to glorify Him — whether that’s through my fitness training, my writing, my prayer and worshiping, my relationship building, or my Netflix watching. My only responsibility is to make the most of this time while I have it, because once it’s gone, I can’t get it back.
So a word of advice… wherever you are in life, no matter how boring or how stressful this season may seem, make the most of it. Embrace it for all that it has to offer, and trust that God has you exactly where you are for a reason and a purpose. It may not make sense now, but I can promise you that when you look back days, months, or years later… everything will make sense. He has all of our days laid out before Him, so He can see things that we can’t see yet. I know it’s hard, because I struggle with it daily, but try to find comfort in that!
“So let us not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”
– Galatians 6:9
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.”
– Romans 5:3-5