I did some exercise today and it nearly killed me.

I recently bought a zumba dvd and for those who know me know that I love a good dance on a night out, so I thought this would be a gentle way in to getting back into exercise during the day. I may have, one:underestimated how unfit I have actually become. Two: underestimated how crazy hard zumba is. Three: thought too highly of my own dance skills. Most likely, it’s a combination of all three.

What I found hardest though was the endurance. I thought I had picked the 30 min session as I have been doing more exercise recently and found that 30 mins was enough to push me at the moment, but instead I found that I was actually doing the 50 minute session. I had to stop/skip a couple of the dance routines, I was simply not up there yet with the pristine, coordinated physically fit dancers.

It made me think how I had got to this place, depression, comfort eating and not looking after myself the way I should have been. I used the excuse of becoming a mum to continue to use food as a shield to hide my anxiety about my new world of babies. It was a complete shift from the person I thought I would be considering that I was so fit in my teens and early 20’s, but that is not to say that I had not tried before to get back into exercise. I tried many times, I realised that I could lose the weight quickly but I could put it back on even faster. It was a change mindset that I needed.

I give God thanks that He lifted me up out of depression and slowly ever so slowly He showed me the ways I covered my hurts and triumphs with food and the double whammy of not exercising had caused me to gain weight.

My faith on the other hand was another matter, I had turned away and the story that reminds me of so much of God’s grace is the Prodigal Son, every time I read it or hear it, it reminds me of how God welcomed me home and the sense of homecoming was profound in me on that first sunday morning back at church roughly five years ago.

However, exercise is a discipline, it trains the body and the mind, it hurts, it stretches, burns away the fat that has built up and transforms the physical the part that can be seen and touched. After I had finished my killer work out and sat down with a cup of herbal tea, I thought of Paul (strange place to go after I know but) he talked about running the race. He told Timothy:

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6-8

There is no doubt that Paul lived a hard life and for the sake of the Gospel he endured more than many could face, but I can’t escape the joy he expressed knowing that he in fact did it, he finished the race! He was trained by it and Jesus and preaching the gospel sustained him to the very end. He had endurance, to keep running the race of faith, he had his eye on the prize and knew that everything he had suffered was worth it.

While I lament that I have allowed my physical state to get so poor and I have to exercise to get my physical fitness back up, I am so grateful that God did not let me stay where I was, spiritually dead. More and more God keeps telling me to lift my eyes to Him. Once again I find it beautifully expressed in Hebrews  in the form of a race:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3

The key word I had noticed is endurance, while my blog picture explains its meaning as a noun, it is also a verb. To endure has connotations of experiencing something painful and unpleasant but it also describes something that lasts longer. I am reminded that it is a life long race, that I will learn more and deeper about God’s love for me in every situation good and bad, to remember the cloud of witnesses, the churches that I have been blessed to grow up in, to read the word and pray, to be determined to follow the Spirit, for where the Spirit there is liberty.

I am also determined to say that yes, exercise is good for me, no matter how much it hurts and if I end up doing the 50 minutes instead of the 30, that just means I am building up my endurance to finish the race.