Every January 1st, I become an idealist.
Rarely do I want to be like the rest of the world, so this year I signed up for the gym on December 30th. This will be the year! I told myself as I paid for a gym membership at the front counter. This will be the year I suddenly transform into one of those shiny, athletic women with the high bouncy ponytails.
I felt like a fraud walking into the gym. My hair was not high or bouncy, but falling further and further out of the messy bun I had half-haphazardly pushed it in. I had never stepped foot inside a gym before. My level of confidence fell below zero. I watched the muscular lady at the front counter hand me my pass.
“Here you go,” she said smiling. “You’re now a VIP member.”
“Oh,” I said, accepting the key card. “Thank you.” I think they call you VIP so you feel more important. It wasn’t quite working for me.
She pointed toward the large staircase behind her. “All of the equipment is up there. Don’t worry, there are diagrams on each machine that explain how it works.”
“Right.” Could she tell I’m the least athletic person in Canada?
I took my plastic water bottle — which was glaringly un-eco-friendly — and my running shoes, putting my coat and boots in a locker. I forced myself to walk up the giant staircase toward the machines.
Three thoughts before we move on:
- In gyms, why are there mirrors everywhere? Do I want to constantly be looking at my sweaty self? Short answer: no.
- I now understand why people go to the gym with friends. For an extroverted person, it’s a lonely experience on your own.
- I think my body missed the “endorphins” memo. I have yet to feel these release. Everyone talks about these magical endorphins that make you want to work out. What do they feel like? So far I feel only tired. I’m hoping these endorphins eventually get the memo and kick in.
I plugged in my earbuds and began listening to one of my favorite podcasts, looking at the people around me. Everyone was different. I had a picture of what the gym was supposed to look like in my head: consisting of tall, confident, beautiful people. Those people were there, of course, but there were so many more.
You’re on Day One of your journey, I told myself. Don’t compare your beginning.
Two seconds later, I almost fell off the machine I was on. I stopped looking at the people and focused harder on what I was doing — some sort of leg workout, I think. (My legs felt like Jello afterward, so I’m assuming I did something right. Don’t worry, I’ll check in with my actual athletic friends and find out.)
Each January I’m hit with a fresh recognition of how utterly human I am.
I become an idealist, I set a goal (or ten), and then I fail. I become disappointed and bitter, and then I give up. Rinse and repeat. Take bullet journaling, for example. I lasted approximately ten minutes doing that before writing it off forever.
It’s true that January can act as a clean slate. That’s what we love about it, isn’t it?
We’re all longing to be made new. But Jesus is teaching me that, with Him, each day — each moment — is a clean slate. We don’t have to force ourselves into a rigid routine, but instead start to recognize the unforced rhythms of grace.
I am certain that over these next few weeks I won’t suddenly become an incredible gym person. (I don’t even know what those people are called.) One of my goals, not only for 2018, but for my whole life, is to become a more devoted, a more in-love, follower or apprentice of Jesus Christ. I’m working on carving the entirety of my life around who He is.
There is not a 5-step process to falling more in love with Jesus. This is a lifelong journey.
Recognizing that my life doesn’t need to be a structured, rigid routine (although there is a time and place for that) but instead a rhythmic journey set to the tune of grace–that is what provides true freedom.
I set a goal. There is grace.
I fail. There is grace.
I try again. There is grace.
Tomorrow I’ll wake up and my goal will be to go back to the gym. Eventually, I’ll become more confident. (Maybe the endorphins will wake up and kick in.) Eventually, I won’t trip when getting off the treadmill. Eventually, prayer will be words I find myself whispering, and Jesus will be the first person I think of in the morning.
But these are all eventual. Here’s to failing a lot. Here’s to grace. Here’s to being on Day One.