If there’s one thing that you should know about me, it’s the fact that I love to exercise. It helps that I am a Kinesiology student because I get to learn about how the body works and when I go to the gym I can see and physically apply what I am learning in class. As much as I like to watch people’s techniques (good and bad) and comparing what I do with other guys at the gym, I can’t help but feel small, scrawny, and weak when I walk into the room. Compared to most of my friends I am among the tallest and strongest; but at 5 foot 11 inches (or roughly 180 cm) and weighing 175 pounds (or roughly 79 kg), to say that I am not the biggest guy at the gym is a total understatement. Even though my goal for working out is not to get big, I still can’t help looking at guys that are the biggest in the gym and wonder if I could get like that.
Yesterday, when I went to the gym, I realized that I don’t need to be insecure anymore. I was standing in front of a mirror and working on my shoulders and a guy working out beside me glanced quickly at me and then looked at his arms, comparing his arms to mine. That was the first time that I realized that there were also people who were less secure than I was because even though I wasn’t the biggest guy, I was still bigger than them.
Another insecurity that I have has to do with my shoulder that I had injured almost three years ago. My shoulder was weak because it went through a subluxation (a dislocation followed by an immediate relocation). Ever since that initial injury, I would reinjure that shoulder whenever I played any sport. It got to a point where I almost gave up on it and tried to play sports with my opposite arm. Even so, I would continue to work out to strengthen my shoulders.
This term I am taking a class on how to teach and demonstrate proper techniques for the game of badminton. Last week we learned how an overhead clear, overhead drop shot and a smash use the same form and technique. We were encouraged to try it out and get a feel for each move. I tentatively tried a smash and I was OK, so then I started putting more power into it. I realized that even though I need to be careful with my shoulder, I was completely underestimating my strength and ability. I kept on telling myself, “I can’t… I’ll get hurt again… I’m not strong enough…” I was lying to myself the whole time!!
Now how can I relate this to my faith in God? Well I learned from the guy at the gym that I know and acknowledge that I am not the strongest guy in the gym, but I am still stronger than some others and should use the strength that I have to good use. This will not only make me better with what I have already, but it will also make me stronger overall. If God were to tell me to do something and I say, “I’m not the strongest, go send (Insert name) instead.” How will I ever get stronger and gain confidence in myself? This is like Jesus’ “Parable of the Talents” where God gives us various amounts of “talents” to begin with, but we need to make it grow into more. If I were to completely stop going to the gym because I’m not the strongest and don’t have the most potential, then I don’t gain anything!! In fact, I will lose everything and get weaker.
My second lesson that I learned was from that badminton class. I thought I had lost full use of my shoulder so I started focusing on using my other shoulder. This is like when God tells me to step out in faith and it doesn’t turn out well and I get hurt. That hurt will likely cause me to completely avoid ever doing that again. But God may have put me in that situation on purpose. By allowing me to fail once, I know what to prepare for next time. In fact because I am prepared, I am stronger because I know that I can get through the situation. A physical example that I have is one time that I played volleyball about a year and a half. I was cautious, as usual, about my shoulder. I honed my other skills because I didn’t want to risk a spike. Unfortunately, because I was one of two players that knew how to spike, our team played too defensively and was losing badly. I was desperate to rack up points any way that I could without using too much power. Then it happened. The opponents gave us a free ball and it was perfectly set up for me to crush it. Instinctively, I spiked it hard and we got that point. I was in shock and relief that my shoulder didn’t give out, but I still played it safe from that point on and we lost the game. In the same way, if we are hurt spiritually and we try to avoid that situation, we will instinctively turn to our strongest trait (even if it’s the one that we are trying to avoid). We need to realize that we need to continue to use our strongest trait and actually use it instead of avoiding it (or else we will lose).
I pray that I will remain confident in who I am and what my strengths are. I pray that I will look at myself and not compare myself to others around me. I pray that I can continue to believe in your healing of previous hurts.