Start. Just start. That is the hardest part for me. Maybe it’s inertia. Overcoming forces which have combined to prevent my action. Maybe it’s something more like a fear of failure. Whatever it is, I often struggle to start.
So, I’ve been a bit surprised by my recent starting.
I’m exercising. Walking/running. Lifting weights. Riding the bike. Ellipticaling or whatever it is called when you use the elliptical thing. Predictably, it’s been hard. So many excuses not to go to the gym. So many reasons to avoid the pain, the lack of breath, the feelings of inadequacy.
But, go I have. I have experienced the physical discomfort and the emotional/mental strain. I suspect everyone knows this isn’t natural for me. I’m weak and awkward and silly looking. I’m an old dog trying to learn new tricks and that’s just hard.
But I’ve started.
A friend has led the way, getting me into the gym and encouraging me to try this and push harder at that. The encouragement and support are powerful motivators. Still, I wonder when it’ll become easier. How many miles on the treadmill? How many bench-presses? Maybe that’s not the right question. Should I be wondering about how I’m getting stronger? If something becomes easy, shouldn’t I push myself toward whatever isn’t easy? Isn’t that how we grow even stronger?
Recognizing there is a limit, if I run a mile in 11 minutes, should I challenge myself to run it in ten? If I bench 90 lbs. (yes, that is my max at the moment), should I challenge myself to bench 100?
Maybe “easy” isn’t a goal worth pursuing. And maybe, abandoning easy for what grows me, what strengthens me, isn’t just about my physical life.
Spiritually. Emotionally. How am I “exercising”? More to the point, am I striving and struggling and strengthening my faith? My relationships? My self-awareness?
So many excuses not to pray. So many reasons to avoid others. So many obstacles to dealing with my inner “junk”.
I’ve decided, just like “hitting the gym” (don’t I sound like I know what I’m doing?), I just need to start. The running is becoming easier, so will the spiritual disciples. The amount I lift will increase, so can the time I spend loving God and others. And thankfully, just like having an exercise partner at the gym propels me to do more than I think I can, I have people in my life nudging me to go deeper spiritually and emotionally.
If you’re looking to exercise, let me suggest setting aside the picture of what a perfect body or a perfect spiritual life looks like. Don’t abandon the picture, just don’t let perfection keep you from taking a step, especially if it’s a first step.
Just start. It’ll be hard. Accept that and grow stronger. Get a pal or a buddy or a partner to come alongside you. And then, start.
Life is better together,