“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
– C. S. Lewis
I worked out at the gym for the first time in MONTHS.
And now, everything hurts, and I’m dying.
When I say worked out, I mean really worked out. Not just a leisurely stroll on the treadmill, which is what I had been doing. But cardio that made me sweat, followed by strength training using free weights and machines.
I am out of shape. And everything hurts. I feel self-conscious as I climb the stairs and circle the classroom in my cute bow-tie heels because I’m wondering if my co-workers and students can sense that my muscles are screaming, or that squatting beside a student to read through their draft with them is making me want to collapse completely.
Do you remember that principle from science class – a body in motion stays in motion. Yeah, not this body. This body does whatever it can possibly do to stop being in motion, regardless of how many inspirational Pins I add to my board. I am one of those people who really has to work hard at being healthy and fit. The best I can hope for is being close to “skinny”, and close only comes through a lot of time, energy, and focus. Three things that I have lacked recently. Just getting through the day required all of my time, energy, and focus, so there wasn’t anything left to help me be healthy or fit. Now I look at the results, and I am not happy. I’ve got to get back into my healthy, fit routine quickly. Shorts and swimsuit season is coming!
My physical soreness over worked muscles is not anything like the emotional and spiritual pain I’ve wrestled with for the past year and a half. Different types of pain require different types of treatment. Just as we take care of a sore muscle differently than a broken leg, we have to address the invisible wounds based on their source and effect. However, if we aren’t careful, we run the risk of over-treating and doing more damage than good.
How do we discern what pains are commanding us to stop and heal, and what pains are urging us to push forward?
Can I speak honestly to you? I was hiding. Life was too overwhelming. And life made everything hurt. Each step down the hall, each conversation in a classroom, each knock at the door, sent terror through me – can they tell that my entire soul is screaming? As much as I hate looking out of shape, I hate looking frail and weak thousand times more. I don’t want people to know my doubts, fears, insecurities, mistakes, and failures. Binge-watching TV and ordering pizza – that became my comfort zone. Funny things about comfort zones – If you spend too long in your comfort zone, it stops feeling comfortable. I spent too long hiding. And I spent too long away from the gym.
The journey is different for each person, so I don’t know where you are in your journey, whether it is time to stop and heal or time to embrace the soreness of moving forward. For me, it was when I realized that the pressure from my “crutches” was more uncomfortable than the once broken bone.
Everything still hurts. Inside and out. But rather than seeing the pain as weakness, rather than fearing what others will think of my pain, rather than bemoaning my pain, I am embracing my pain. Embracing it for what it really is – a sign that things need to change, an indication that something is not right, and evidence of getting out of my comfort zone.
I will go to the gym today, I will exercise my sore muscles, and I will continue to build the strength I need to continue my great adventure.
(And then I’m going to soak my whole body in a tub of Epsom salt).