Every January 1st, I become an idealist.
Rarely do I want to be like the rest of the world, so this year I signed up for the gym on December 30th. This will be the year! I told myself as I paid for a gym membership at the front counter. This will be the year I suddenly transform into one of those shiny, athletic women with the high bouncy ponytails.
I felt like a fraud walking into the gym. My hair was not high or bouncy, but falling further and further out of the messy bun I had half-haphazardly pushed it in. I had never stepped foot inside a gym before. My level of confidence fell below zero. I watched the muscular lady at the front counter hand me my pass.
“Here you go,” she said smiling. “You’re now a VIP member.”
“Oh,” I said, accepting the key card. “Thank you.” I think they call you VIP so you feel more important. It wasn’t quite working for me.
She pointed toward the large staircase behind her. “All of the equipment is up there. Don’t worry, there are diagrams on each machine that explain how it works.”
“Right.” Could she tell I’m the least athletic person in Canada?
I took my plastic water bottle — which was glaringly un-eco-friendly — and my running shoes, putting my coat and boots in a locker. I forced myself to walk up the giant staircase toward the machines.
Three thoughts before we move on:
- In gyms, why are there mirrors everywhere? Do I want to constantly be looking at my sweaty self? Short answer: no.
- I now understand why people go to the gym with friends. For an extroverted person, it’s a lonely experience on your own.
- I think my body missed the “endorphins” memo. I have yet to feel these release. Everyone talks about these magical endorphins that make you want to work out. What do they feel like? So far I feel only tired. I’m hoping these endorphins eventually get the memo and kick in.
I plugged in my earbuds and began listening to one of my favorite podcasts, looking at the people around me. Everyone was different. I had a picture of what the gym was supposed to look like in my head: consisting of tall, confident, beautiful people. Those people were there, of course, but there were so many more.
You’re on Day One of your journey, I told myself. Don’t compare your beginning.
Two seconds later, I almost fell off the machine I was on. I stopped looking at the people and focused harder on what I was doing — some sort of leg workout, I think. (My legs felt like Jello afterward, so I’m assuming I did something right. Don’t worry, I’ll check in with my actual athletic friends and find out.)
Each January I’m hit with a fresh recognition of how utterly human I am.
I become an idealist, I set a goal (or ten), and then I fail. I become disappointed and bitter, and then I give up. Rinse and repeat. Take bullet journaling, for example. I lasted approximately ten minutes doing that before writing it off forever.
It’s true that January can act as a clean slate. That’s what we love about it, isn’t it?
We’re all longing to be made new. But Jesus is teaching me that, with Him, each day — each moment — is a clean slate. We don’t have to force ourselves into a rigid routine, but instead start to recognize the unforced rhythms of grace.
I am certain that over these next few weeks I won’t suddenly become an incredible gym person. (I don’t even know what those people are called.) One of my goals, not only for 2018, but for my whole life, is to become a more devoted, a more in-love, follower or apprentice of Jesus Christ. I’m working on carving the entirety of my life around who He is.
There is not a 5-step process to falling more in love with Jesus. This is a lifelong journey.
Recognizing that my life doesn’t need to be a structured, rigid routine (although there is a time and place for that) but instead a rhythmic journey set to the tune of grace–that is what provides true freedom.
I set a goal. There is grace.
I fail. There is grace.
I try again. There is grace.
Tomorrow I’ll wake up and my goal will be to go back to the gym. Eventually, I’ll become more confident. (Maybe the endorphins will wake up and kick in.) Eventually, I won’t trip when getting off the treadmill. Eventually, prayer will be words I find myself whispering, and Jesus will be the first person I think of in the morning.
But these are all eventual. Here’s to failing a lot. Here’s to grace. Here’s to being on Day One.Leave a Comment
They are called Gym Rats and you can do this girl. From a former personal trainer to YOU, don’t compare yourself just make you a better, healthier you.
I woke up feeling like a failure. Like maybe God really doesn’t want me on the path I’m on because I sure am not getting a whole lot of postive feedback from him. When you pour your heart into something and you get nothing in return, it makes you weary. And then I read this. Thank you for being a messanger from God to me! ✌️
Little Mary says
I’m glad you were encouraged by this awesome post!! Don’t worry! Trust on Him, and He will direct your steps! He knows what He’s doing, and remember: you only see a little corner of the big picture! 😉
Beth Williams says
Remember God doesn’t make failures. Put your trust wholly in God and He will direct your steps. Don’t worry about anything just pray about everything. Think on the good things in life. Make a list of all the blessings God has given you. You will be surprised how your attitude change. Praying for you sweet sister!!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Thank you for a smile this morning…you un-eco-friendly water bottle carrying girl lol. I don’t know if this is good or bad, but I used to be an idealist (like you) as each new year rolled around. I would set high ideals and great expectations only to have them dashed or abandoned and then feel like a failure. Perhaps I’m getting to be more of a steady cautious optimist. In the past 5 years I’ve had 5 surgeries. So you know what lingers in my head as I start this year. But, I got through each of those surgeries and God built my faith and trust in Him and ultimately my confidence. So I know I can make my plans, but it is ultimately the Lord that determines my steps. I guess I now focus on each new day (knowing His mercies are new every morning) vs. putting so much weight and expectation upon a New Year. That’s too big a chunk for me to bite off. But, I will be cheering you on gym-rat girl as I get back into my exercise routine. Together we can do this, even if our ponytails are not bouncy.
Michele Morin says
At the beginning of every year, I have to return to the truth that we don’t pour our life out to God all at once, but one drop at a time we become more and more His in our daily choices and intentional following.
Blessings to you from the least athletic person in the U.S.
I literally laughed out loud at your last sentence, Michele. Thanks to all of you dear sisters for the support, encouragement and love you show to everyone here. You often make me smile. You always give encouragement. It is a safe and wonderful place for me to begin each day. You are all the best. Smiley emoticon.
Michele Morin says
Ha! Thanks, Nancy, for passing on the smile! (Emoticon and all!)
On how I wish those endorphins would kick in for me! I love that His Grace and Mercy are new every day. Beautiful devotion!
Pearl Allard says
Aliza, I love this! I also read your words this morning in my copy of A Moment to Breathe. Your writing hugs my heart. I’m with you on that new grace everyday business. I’m also realizing “continue” is a valid direction, and baby steps are valid transportation, even if I don’t know my destination. Here’s to continuing our baby steps in new grace every day! (PS – Bouncy ponytails hurt my head.)
Susan Shipe says
Getting my new year footing but definitely not ready to quit!!!
Sheila Bard says
I have at different times in my life been part of the gym community…….but I get so self conscious of seeing all the skinny peop!e just having fun!! I have a hard time relaxingI don’t have friends who support me. My friends are all slim.as
DaLee Kicker says
Indeed! We do get to start over with Jesus everyday! And I need that assurance that when I fail, I have grace. Blessings.
Eunice B says
Love this Aliza, and that I’m not the only one that’s intimidated with mirrors all over the gym!! 😉 You can do this, and with each step, you’ll get closer to your goal!! What a wonderful perspective for the New Year…and each day!
Kim B Smith says
One step, one day at a time. No comparing, just do what you can do and all else will prevail. Take it slow or you will be so sore you may not go back. Epson salt baths are amazing as well.
You got this!
“…a rhythmic journey set to the tune of grace–that is what provides true freedom.” — Yes. Amen. Love that. And that Matthew verse is priceless. — Day One is underrated, don’t ya think? I mean, there’s hope and vision and grace-gifts set apart for the obedience of Day One. — Prayers for strength and blessings for you, Aliza. Getting back to exercise again myself this year. Got busy and side-tracked last year, and my health paid the price. — Happy New Year! ♥
Brenda Heckard says
Thank you for being sooo real. From a person who is 50ish and still working on this lifelong journey…thank you.
Becky Beresford says
Love this!! Thank you for encouraging my heart today to move forward in God’s grace, even if I fall down. So good!
Oh how I appreciate these thoughts Aliza. This is perhaps the first time in my almost fifty years that I haven’t resolved to be or do “X” then share that certain failure with others. I have goals in mind for the coming year, of course. But I think refraining from calling it something has me feeling set free! I pray you find joy and grace and rest and Him in so many things this year…that pursuit is always the most prolific. Much love in the New Year!
Becky Paplanus says
Thank you thank you so much for reminding me that we always have grace. That even when we mess up or forget there is grace. That Jesus loves us even when we slip up or take that wrong turn. That Jesus is always there with open arms to help pick us up and start fresh again.
Rebecca L Jones says
Everything good about us comes from the inside out, especially as believers. I used to exercise 4 hrs a day in my 20’s, just couldn’t keep it up. It is better to follow Jesus and follow love, then you can run the rat race.
Beth Williams says
New Year’s resolutions are for the birds. I don’t make any. I’ve been through a lot in the last 4 years. Like Bev God has strengthened my faith. Now I just look at life one day at a time. If I fail one day I ask forgiveness & start fresh the next day. This year I’m going to try & get more active & lose a few pounds. No bouncy ponytails here just short hair & a willingness to try.
I plan to follow after God more actively. I want more of Him & less of me. I will be doing more this year for Him!!
Cyndi Carter says
Love this! God’s grace is truly amazing, and I’m thankful it’s there for us every day!
Thank you for your encouraging words. I’m with you on missing the endorphins! I was a sports girl in high school & college, but I detest running, unless it’s in a sport. Zumba is fun, but other than that, I’ve never found the right “workout” concotion to enjoy(?!) consistently. Like you, I always feel tired afterwards if cardio is involved… maybe that feeling is because of adrenal issues. Anyways, your words on grace touched me. Bless you in your journey towards closeness with Jesus!
Am also in Canada like Penny, My word was Brave. 🙂
I have made the same resolution every year since I was a single mom in my twenties. A dear, older woman told me that she never bothered with those; “I just made up my mind that any time anyone blesses me in some way I will let them know.” And I have been blessed many times over by seeing things as blessings even when they at first don’t look like blessings.
My word is Simplify.