So, one day, I am in the gym lying flat on my face, sweat dripping from every pore, muscles tremoring and teeth clenched as I rep out my first set on the hamstring curl machine.
That sounds waaaay more glamorous than what actually happened. I was on the lowest weight possible, I could barely complete the movement, and I was literally hugging the seat and grunting with each attempt.
I like having a trainer, sometimes. I enjoy working out in a setting, with a little more privacy, with someone who can teach and motivate me. But, not this day. This day, I wanted him to go away. Far away.
We sort of banter back and forth during my sessions sometimes. It helps make it more enjoyable. I looked at him in my moment of agony and, half kidding and half not kidding, say: “You see I’m over here struggling, don’t you?” I give my best pitiful look hoping he’ll decrease the weight. You know, lighten the load a little.
He leans back on the rigging crossing one foot over the other, letting the tip of his toe land with a "thunk" on the floor. Folding his arms, a slow whimsical Willy Wonka-ish grin creeps across his face as he says, “It’s perfectly fine to struggle, you know.”
He never lightened my load. In fact, he walked away while I struggled to finish, but I did finish. I fought through every rep. It took longer than I wanted, and I was sore for days, but when I was done, he was there standing and applauding silently with that darn grin.
His words rolled around in my spirit for days. It’s perfectly fine to struggle, you know. It was like God was sending me a message. I have been struggling recently. Struggling with my health, my self-confidence, my life roles…even my connection with God. It was like God was affirming my struggle. Letting me know that struggle is okay, in fact, better than okay.
Struggling can be a really good thing.
It means we’re going against the tides, swimming upstream. We are working to create change. In fact, according to the Oxford Dictionary, to struggle means to make violent or forceful efforts to break free of a restraint. To break free from brokenness, illness, poverty, dysfunction, old mind sets. To fight your way out while God smiles at your perseverance and power, applauding you every step of the way.
If you are struggling with something, please take heart. It is perfectly fine to struggle. You are using a mighty force to break free from something that is binding you. In fact, it says a lot about you that you are willing to go up against oppression time and time again until you break free. Keep pressing until you are free!
Prayer: God, help us to push through and break free of things that hold us back. When we can’t feel Your presence, help us to know You are near. When we are tired, hurting, and losing hope, comfort us and give us each exactly what we need to keep pressing toward the mark.
Phil 3:13-14 - I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.