Freedom to Choose

Despite not yet breaking a sweat, I tapped the bright red STOP button on the treadmill and climbed down. It had been months since I’d been to the gym. And if I’m honest, I can’t even remember the last time I did anything other than walk on the treadmill while there. But on that random afternoon, I not only found myself at the gym, but turning away from my trusted treadmill and walking towards the weight room.

The weight room…

There was a time I could be found in the weight room 6 days a week. My Instagram feed was filled with fitness accounts. I spent a crazy amount of time meal-prepping and counting each gram of protein, fat, and carbs that I ate. I stepped on the scale often, and each passing glance in the mirror led to a critique of the girl staring back at me. But despite the physical changes in my body, it was somehow never enough.

But God… God stepped in and rescued me. He met me right there. In my mess. Even though I don’t think I realized I was in a mess at the time. And with intense love, He began to pour His healing graces into the wounds of my heart, targeting first the areas that dictated my obsessive striving for perfection.

I stopped obsessing over food. And for a very long time, I stopped going to the gym.

I tried to return a few times. I recall bargaining with Jesus before I went - trying to convince Him I was ready. Suggesting to Him that I could offer up my gym time for some specific prayer request. But each time I returned, I quickly developed some random back or neck issue, one that ultimately kept me in the chiropractor’s office and out of the gym. And one that I now see was likely a strategically placed road block from Jesus, as He knew I wasn't ready to return.

But several weeks ago I had a sudden desire to revisit the weight room, so I did. And I’ve been back several times since.

***

I turned off my alarm and felt my way out of the dark bedroom. I was up early, hoping to hit the gym and get in my quiet prayer time before my household stirred. I walked through the house and gathered my things, barely noticing - and quickly disregarding - both my tiredness and a faint twinge in my lower back. But before leaving the house, a gentle tug from somewhere deep within caught my attention as it invited me to pause and consider what I actually wanted to do next:

… Did I want to ignore my tired body, ignore that twinge in my back, and go to the gym? After all, I had planned to go to the gym.

… Or did I want to respect my back and skip the gym? I could instead dive into my coffee and prayer time. After all, starting my day with coffee and Jesus is what I do.

I stood still, nearly frozen as I weighed these options. And in my stillness I realized a third choice was before me. A choice that, in my haste, I nearly missed. A choice that obediently following my routine would never have allowed. And a choice that I ultimately took as I grabbed a blanket, curled up on the sofa, and went back to sleep.

***

Still snuggled under the blanket, I sipped my coffee. I was well rested and the twinge in my back was gone. I’d not made it to the gym. But I realized, something was different. I felt no remorse. No guilt. And not once had I considered scouring over the day’s agenda, searching for time to squeeze in this “missed” gym trip. Rather, my actions (or lack of actions!) had left me only with a sense of Peace.

Reflecting on it all, it became clear my choice was much bigger than a simple decision to listen to my body. It was more than saying no to the gym and yes to rest. It was more than saying later to prayer and yes to sleep. This choice represented my freedom.

For years I had allowed the “Gym time-Body image-What I should do” issues involved in this choice to own me. To order my thoughts, my time, and my priorities. And eventually, to define me. But on this morning, when I chose to skip the gym, postpone my prayer time, and go back to sleep - and when I did so with no feelings of guilt or remorse - I effectively stepped out from under the control of those things. Through God’s Grace alone, I have broken free from the chains that once bound me. And not only did I break free, but I have finally stepped far enough away that I was not tempted to re-shackle myself.

A smile I could not contain spread across my face as I considered, not how far I’ve come, but how far God has brought me these last few years. I picked up my phone, quickly searching for the one thing I knew would help me express the gratitude that was welling up from within. It's a song I first heard while watching The Chosen’s Christmas Special several weeks ago. And one I’ve listened to countless times since, often through tears, as it captures the immense gratitude that fills me each time I think of where I was before Jesus was in my life and where I am now with Him by my side. And as the opening notes of Brandon Lake’s "Gratitude" began to play, my tears of gratitude once again began to fall.

Take a minute.
Think of what the Lord has done for you.
Listen to the song with me, and let the words and heartfelt emotion move your heart.
God is so good.

As always, I'm praying God breathes life into these words...


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(blessed by these words? feel free to share, so you can bless others.) 

Comments

  1. So glad you chose to rest! As always thank you for sharing and letting God use you !! 😘😘😘

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  2. Love this...the "no guilt" is key. It gets us all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it does.... which is exactly how I knew NOT feeling it was so significant!

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