As a high schooler, I was a scrawny, ghost-white toothpick with very little strength but a lot of stamina. (Oh, wait . . . I'm still like that.) I loved to play sports and I certainly had the genes for it. Unfortunately, my build made it easy for the opposing team to crack me in half before the referee had any time to notice what happened. Good thing I was fast.
A couple of months ago, I signed up for a gym membership and I've been hittin' the gym with a close friend three times a week. And by three times a week, I mean we usually make it once or twice a week if I go to bed on time and don't hate my alarm clock in the morning.
Consider the text conversation my friend and I had at 6 AM a couple of weeks ago:
My friend: 'You up?'
Me: 'Yes, but I don't want to be. Actually . . . I'm going back to bed.'
My friend: 'Yes!! I really didn't want to get out of bed!! You're the best workout partner ever! Sleep well.'
So much for accountability.
It's Easy to Become Discouraged
While working out one day I found myself looking around at the others in the gym. I was lifting only a third of the weight that my rugby star friend was lifting and after looking around the gym it would've been easy to be very intimidated, even discouraged by the 'bodybuilders' around me.
Have you ever found yourself doing the same thing at your youth group or at church on Sunday?
It's easy to look around the room and compare ourselves to our peers. Jessica sings better than me . . . Willeke prays out loud better than me . . . Annie is always happier than me . . . Heck, even most images and statues of Jesus display our God with six-pack abs and beefy biceps.
Don't be discouraged. The Church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints (Abigail Van Buren).
For When I am Weak, Then I am Strong
When we look around the room and compare ourselves to our peers, it can be very easy to become discouraged. Instead, let us look to the love of God which never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8, 1 John 4:8) and takes us just as we are, especially in our weakness.
'The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, saves those whose spirit is crushed (Psalm 34:19).'
It's so easy for us to be convinced that weakness is something to flee from. I mean, why not? It's not a pleasant feeling, always feeling like we're not enough.
The truth is, when we feel weak we are pressed to rely more on God and ask for His strength. If we always felt strong, we wouldn't need a Savior.
In Saint Paul's second letter to the Corinthians he writes, 'For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).'
When You're Lifting 5 lb Spiritual Weights
So remember when you look up at the crucifix during Mass and see six-pack Jesus and His perfect sacrifice, Jesus loves you just as you are.
And whether you're lifting 5 lb weights or 100 lb weights, you are loved. Whether you're just learning what prayer actually is or you've been praying since you were two years old, you are loved.
Be fearless. Go to the 'gym' even when you feel weak or discouraged. And always remember, God loves you . . . very, very much.