No Pain, No Gain….But why does it have to hurt so much?

In case you haven’t picked up on it, exercise and working out are not high on my list of activities. I understand the value and recognize the need, but I have not found the proper level of discipline and motivation.

Our base gym has a fantastic service called Peep Drop. It used to be that the parent signed up to volunteer to watch the kids. For every hour you volunteered you got so many hours of gym time and your kids could be taken care of. This was a pretty good deal. Apparently, however, this volunteer for gym hours still wasn’t enough to get me to the gym. Recently, they took away my last excuse. Now you don’t even need to volunteer. You automatically get 10 (I’m pretty sure) hours a week. No more excuses. I couldn’t justify not going anymore.

Image from picjumbo.com
Image from picjumbo.com

So, twice this week, I’ve gone to the gym. The first day for a class and the second for some time on a treadmill (i had hoped for a second class but misread the schedule – oh well, I probably would have fallen over in the class anyway). As I sit here writing, I would love to not get up for the rest of the evening. I am so sore!

I was telling Ben about my aches and pains and he laughed. “But it’s a good hurt” he said. “My hamstrings won’t move because I did legs yesterday. It’s awesome,” he boasted. What?? How on earth is that awesome? Maybe I am missing a few synaptic pathways in my brain that have to do with exercise and the body aches it causes.  I mean, I get it, kind of. The main means that you worked the muscle and as it heals, it grows stronger. That’s nice and all, but the process hurts.

Since my body aches every time I move for the most part, I’ve obviously spent a lot of time dwelling on it. There are a lot of things in life that are for our good and overall benefit that involve a process of pain. How many times does a child learning to walk fall before acquiring the core and leg strength and balance necessary? How much did your head hurt when studying for a difficult final or exam in school? How much did it hurt your pride to have to admit an error or mistake at work was your fault? So many lessons in life are learnt through a process of pain. But we grow because of it. We learn to walk. We retain the knowledge from the test which shapes our future learning experiences. We grow as an individual when we own up to the mistakes we make.

Even faith grows in a similar manner. St. Peter tells us, “So that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7) Even though tested by fire – sounds painful to me. But, if my faith deepens and grows because of it, isn’t it worth it? If I am able to more clearly see the hand of God in my life and am better able to trust in the good plans He has crafted for me, isn’t that enough?

If we expect our faith to carry us, then our spiritual muscles need training to go the distance. Habits of prayer, sacrifice, communication, service, self-denial. All these are elements of a healthy, active and growing spiritual life – spiritual muscles.

If we neglect one area, we may find some fatigue, some soreness or discontent, not unlike what my body is presently experiencing. The challenge, just like with exercise, is to go back even though you are sore, confident that any pain or frustration is temporary and that good will come from it. So, maybe it’s time to stop complaining and start training.

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