It was 3:30am last night when it happened. The previous night it was around 2:45am. As for now, even as stand up from this chair for a break, it happens again and again and again. Curious? Well, I started back working out five days ago. After four months of complete and total physical lethargy, I am back crushing my body so that it might live. Right now, even the most basic of movements makes me question my will to live. I’m only partially speaking in hyperbole. I am hurting.
Since November, I have traveled a lot, eaten more (mainly disgusting food you eat when living out of a suitcase), and exercised almost none. The result . . . eight pounds gained and general physical malaise in every way. I knew it was time to get back on the horse, but I was just slow to mount. Thankfully, an old friend moved back to town who makes it his business to destroy his friends for their good.
Alex Detmering is a university English teacher by day and a professional trainer by night (he is a physical trainer in America). Michael Gregory, Tyler Leuck, and I are the willing victims of Alex’s torturous workout regimens and the recipients of his motivational yelling of statements like “do it!” and “butt down, heads up!” and “go outside to puke!”.
As I woke up this morning and did something that I have never done before in my life (popped an Advil prior to breakfast), I questioned my desire to keep submitting to Alex and his brutal ways of getting my softening body back into fighting shape. “Why do I do this?” dominated by thoughts as I limped over, with the gracefulness of a wounded rhino, to brush my teeth.
The answer is easy; I do this because the benefits of good health way outweigh the painful process that is necessary to get there. I want to be healthy and strong. I want to be a good steward of this life God has granted me. I want to be able to participate in all that life has in store. Being physically fit is critical in order for this to stay a reality.
One day, I hope to have children. Just doing the numbers, I’m looking at a minimum of being 60 and sitting in a high school graduation (and this is fairly optimistic!). In order to be healthy 20 years from now, I know I have to sacrifice in the present. Though the process of working out is painful, it is an investment in a future which is worth paying and sacrificing for now.
Thinking more deeply about this, I can’t think of one thing of real worth that comes without a cost. I learned early on that if I wanted to make good grades, I had to study at nights instead of watching TV.
In football, if I didn’t get to school every day at 6:45am to lift weights all winter, if I didn’t run wind sprints all summer when the rest of my friends were chilling out by pools, then I would never see the field on those glorious 11 Friday nights under the lights every fall.
In college, I learned the hard way my freshman year (along with Sam Shin) that unless I learned the painful, arduous task of sacrificial study, I would fail out. Plain and simple. It was not high school. Thankfully we both learned to study like we never thought possible and we did fine. Just not that first semester.
When moving to Asia, I honestly don’t think I had a single night where I didn’t study characters on notecards until lights out for my first two years. It was painful at the time, but worth it now that I have lived here for over 10 years.
Any parent will tell you that the process of raising kids is filled with pain and joy and sacrifice and laughter and tears. Every parent I have talked to has expressed this in one way or the other. However, EVERY ONE of them says that it is more than worth it. The joy of raising kids way outshines the sacrifice it always comes with.
If you want to make an impact in the lives of others, neighborhoods, families, and even cities, then it always comes with painful sacrifice. You have to give up in order to get something. The bigger the goal, the greater the required sacrifice.
Everyone wants to “make an impact”. . . everyone. However, very few are willing to actually sacrifice in a meaningful way to make this happen. I so admire those I see around me that do. I want to be among their number. I really do.
How could we expect anything that brings meaning in life, positive change within ourselves, and/or true impact in the world around us coming about without genuine sacrifice (and even pain)? As a Christian, my faith was founded upon the Savior of the world living a life and submitting to a death of supreme sacrifice. He did it for the glory of His Father in heaven and the good of the world around him. With Christ Jesus as our fountainhead, how could we expect any different?
Through this reality, we find purpose in sacrifice, both for personal growth and for the good and redemption of the world around us. For this reason, I really do find great strength in Hebrews 12:2-3. . .
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Lord, help me to be a man who truly embraces the “the process of purposeful pain and sacrifice” in all areas of my life. May I see that temporary pains and sacrifice is more than worth it in light of your eternal values and scope. In the small things like working out and eating right, may I be disciplined. Keep my eyes on my long-term goals. In the big things like making an impact upon the world and people around me, my I see clearly that the momentary cost is but a fraction of the real, eternal value.
Thank you for your clear demonstration of this through the person and work of Christ Jesus.
(For a look at some of the more bazaar things about our weight room here, you might want to read “Revolting Green Tea Gatorade and my Asian weight room”.)