Praying on the Treadmill

Anyone who knows me in my personal life knows that I have a longtime distaste for physical activity. The gym and I haven’t exactly been friends, like ever. This, in part, has to due with my lack of normal coordination that most people seem to just magically have. But if I’m being real, the truth is I’ve allowed insecurity and self consciousness to drive a wedge between me and a ‘fit’ lifestyle.

Since starting my new post-grad routine, I have actually started going to the gym fairly regularly (who the heck am I?). To be honest, this all started because I felt tubby and feared that my noodle arms would limit my performance as a therapist in a Skilled Nursing setting.

When you’re a fitness newbie like me, you do things like follow all the fitness accounts on Instagram, and weirdly stare people down at the gym while you’re on the corner elliptical to try and figure out 1) what the heck they’re doing and 2) if that’s something you could maybe be capable of doing too.

And then you learn all this stuff like motivation vs. discipline, calories vs. macros, weight training vs. cardio training. Which is all relevant, but it wasn’t enough to educate/motivate me to put in my full effort at the gym.

Enter Jess Connolly and her myfreedombell account on Instagram. Jess is a lady who inspires me on the daily. But a few weeks ago, she wrote a post on her Insta all about using a one mile run each day to refocus her spirit and reconnect with God. #onemileworship. And I read that post and thought to myself “Okay, I’m not that great at running. In fact I actually hate it and I haven’t tried it in a while. But I could do this. I could run just one mile. I might be slow but I could do it.”

Well I couldn’t do it. I went to the gym with high hopes and good intentions. But I just couldn’t do it. Every time I hopped on a treadmill and started to run, something held me back: fear. Fear of failing. Fear of looking stupid. Fear of judgement from the person who happened to be on the treadmill next to me.

Now normally I don’t go to the gym on Sundays, but yesterday I just needed to. So I laced up my shoes and headed over to the gym. I got on the treadmill, hit play on my worship playlist, and just started to run. No pre-run walk. No easing into it. I just went for it. And I ran a mile (plus a little extra).

It was truly spiritual. Why? Because I am just straight up bad at being athletic. Try as I might, I just can’t do it. But when I stopped focusing on my weakness, and started focusing on His strength, the fear suddenly didn’t matter. In fact it became completely obsolete. Things were no longer dependent upon me. The only thing I had to do was show up and admit that without Him, this would be another feeble attempt that ended nowhere.

Life can be a lot like this, can’t it? Feeling afraid or discouraged or frustrated when our own attempts simply don’t measure up. Fear can so easily taint the most precious of things. But I’m finding more and more that when I openly admit my fears is when I experience God the most abundantly.

So I’m going to keep running, and I’m going to keep praying, and I’m going to remain expectant. Expectant to experience God despite my fears again and again and again. Not just on the treadmill, but in all areas of life.

I love you, O Lord, my strength. Psalm 18:1


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