Exercise + God = ?

I am not a super “fit” person. I’m friends with a lot of great girls who seem like they live in the gym. You know who you are. I, on the other hand, only started consistently – and I use the term loosely – exercising the summer before my senior year of college. Whenever I did choose to exercise, it was always because the people around me were doing it.

What my experience in fitness boiled down to was this: either I (1) used exercising as a way to help me fuel my already-too-large ego by feeling great about myself for working out that day, or (2) I played comparison games and felt worse about myself if I knew other people were “better” at working out.

And then, very recently, something changed. I was forcing myself outside to complete one of those obligatory runs. I wasn’t looking forward to it. I decided to listen to different songs than the ones on my upbeat, slightly inappropriate running playlist that’s my go-to. These songs conveyed some truths about God.

Okay, pause. The moral of this story is NOT “listen to worship music when you run.” Honestly, ew. Because who wants to do things out of obligation rather than personal conviction? That’s why I hated exercise in the first place. And I still have that slightly inappropriate upbeat playlist.

But, as my feet hit the pavement, and the words sung reminded me of my Creator, it made me reflect on my running and helped my mind turn towards Jesus (instead of trying to forget I was even running at all, like I usually do, until I’m finally done).

Instead, I started to think about how incredibly special it was that I was getting to use my body in a way that it was created to be used – to run, to sweat, to breathe heavily, to labor, to work, to endure, to feel. And, I kid you not, all of a sudden I felt overcome by the excitement of it all. To get to be a feeling, breathing, human with strong legs propelling me forward and a heart pumping blood and clean air filtering through my lungs.

In those moments, I felt alive. I felt worshipful, filled with all the fullness of God. But here is the real miracle: for the first time in – well, ever – I was overjoyed at the fact that I was exercising. I was overjoyed because I felt like I was living into my created purpose. Is there a better feeling than that? Our bodies were made for this. Part of experiencing full life (whether as a religious discipline or not) is using our bodies the way they were intended to be used.

I know I’m late to the party. You are a smart person and have probably already figured all of this out. But man, if we’re not really taking joy in the physical bodies we’ve been given – testing their abilities, moving and pushing, jumping and swimming and climbing and running – we’re really going to miss something beautiful. So I’m not doing that anymore.

If you want to go on a run together, let me know.


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