Sunday, April 05, 2009
I have admitted here before that I love to exercise. However, I think for the sake of complete transparency, I must admit that I don't always love it. There are days when I hop on my elliptical and work for an hour enjoying every second of it! The time seems to fly by and I feel empowered and rejuvenated when I am finished. Other days, I play mental games with myself trying to trick my body into working out even though my body is in absolute disagreement with my mind. Every second seems to take an hour and I have to focus on small goals...I'll go hard for just ten minutes and then I'll ease up on the resistance. Some days, it takes every ounce of energy I have to put in thrity minutes. But, no matter what kind of day I'm having, when I am finished, I am always thankful that I made the choice to do it.
As I was grinding through my workout on Saturday, I was thinking about how my perfectionism is at times the very thing that keeps me from accomplishing anything. Take house work for instance. Often, if I don't have the time (or the energy) to leave my house spotless, I won't do much to it at all. Before long, it becomes so disgusting, it's overwhelming and I have to spend an entire day devoted to re-finding the floor (ahem...say, this past Thursday for instance!).
In January, I began a daily Bible reading plan which, if done everyday, allows you to read through the entire Bible in one year. It's a lofty goal; but, it has been awhile since I've read the Bible through; so, I found a plan, and stuck to it! Until Spring Break. If you look at my paper, there is a check in every single box right up until the Monday of Spring Break. I kept telling myself I'd catch up but somehow, I'm now over three weeks behind and catching up seems impossible. My perfectionism trapping me again.
But, what if life wasn't meant to be perfect? What if I wasn't expected to be perfect? What if it was okay to work out for only 20 minutes with no resistance and feel good about it? What if the floors went un-mopped and I didn't have to feel guilty about it? What if...and this is a big one...I just started reading my Bible right where I left off even though my check marks would be on the wrong dates? I shudder to even think about it! But, what if, instead of always focusing soley on the goal, I could actually enjoy the process?
The Bible is absolutely clear that the goal of the Christian life is to be perfect. Yet, it is also absolutely clear that God is both the author and perfector or our faith. He is at work in me even on the days when I cannot sense it. He is bringing about slow, oh so subtle changes that are meticulously moving me one step closer to the goal. And, I am often so bogged down with disappointment and frustration about how far I've left to go, that my eyes never look back to see how far He's already brought me.
I get on my elliptical almost everyday because I trust the process. I know that EVERY STEP (no matter how small) is better than not moving at all. I believe that every step is good for me. Every time I choose to (if I may quote Nike) just do it, I am stronger and healthier for it.
Maybe the same is true for my spiritual life. Perhaps it's about trusting the process. Or, even better, about trusting the One who began the process. The One who knows how this book is going to end. The One who has promised that He who began a good work in me will see it to completion.
I find great hope in that promise. I can choose to keep putting one foot in front of the other even if I know the next step may bring pain or uncertainty. I can be assured that I'll attain the goal. And, I can find comfort and peace in the midst of the process. Perhaps that is what faith looks like.