Some people absolutely love going to the gym. I am not one of those people. At least, before last week I wasn’t.
It’s just always been hard for me to see the appeal of working out. It’s not that I totally hate the gym, but if I don’t go for a long time, I never want to go back. Occasionally, if someone really encourages me to workout, I guess I’ll force myself to go. But the minute I get out of a cycle, I completely dread everything related to the gym. If someone so much as mentions a workout, I cringe. Please, please, stop talking about the gym. I haven’t been in forever. I seriously can’t go back.
Last week, my best friend asked me when the last time I worked out was. I honestly couldn’t remember. June, maybe? Well, I don’t know – maybe even before then. They said I should go to a cycling class with them. The class is only forty-five minutes, and it’s free – you literally have nothing to lose. All you have to do is show up.
So I gave in. I showed up. I grabbed a bike, and clipped in my rented cycling shoes. I was so nervous I probably could’ve puked. I can’t do this. I shouldn’t be here. Everyone else here comes all the time!
As the class began, I was really starting to freak out. I was so self-conscious that I wasn’t riding as fast as the girls next to me, or that I was doing something differently than them. It was honestly hard. Physically, yes, but emotionally too. I was out of my comfort zone – I was scared, I was in a setting I hadn’t been in for a long time. But I heard a voice telling me to lean into the discomfort.
That voice was actually my instructor, Grace Ann. She stepped off of her bike at the front of the room and started to walk around, speaking into her microphone headset. She was shouting encouragement to us – you are in this room because you decided to show up for yourself. It hurts, you feel weak, but lean into the discomfort. You are enough.
Some people may think this sounds shallow, or fake. And maybe at first, I shrugged it off a bit, too. I’m just here to workout because my friend made me come. It doesn’t mean that much.
After our one of our sprints ended, Grace Ann lowered the lights, and changed the song. I had never heard this one before. She told us to take this song and use it how we need it. She asked us, what is that thing that sets a fire in your soul? Ride for that.
Honestly, I had a pretty sub-par day before that class. I met with my discipler, and I couldn’t even explain what I was feeling. I guess I feel stuck. Empty, maybe? Not in the sense that I don’t believe Christ is there – I do. I know He is working, and I know the Spirit is in me, so I know I’m not actually empty. But I feel like I am. I don’t know why.
When Grace Ann asked us what sets a fire in our soul, I knew the answer was Jesus. The answer is Jesus. She told us to ride for that answer, and so I did. I started riding for Him. I started praying on my bike, Lord, I feel empty. Lord, I feel stuck. Lord, I do not feel enough.
As I shut my eyes tighter, and pedalled harder, I allowed my ears to process the song Grace Ann had started playing. Hold on, hear me out – empty rooms can be so loud – I just wanna let you know I’m proud – I just wanna let you know I’m proud.
At this moment, I felt almost like I could cry. Literally, these words were coming from a speaker blasting Marshmello. But to me? To me it felt like Jesus. He sang – Close your eyes, tune them out – you’re right here, with me now – I just wanna let you know I’m proud – I just wanna let you know I’m proud.
I’m not sure I would’ve ever expected to tell someone that I heard Jesus through the lyrics of Marshmello in a cycling class. But I did. I gripped my handlebars tighter, closed my eyes, let the lyrics fill my head, and just rode.
As class came to a close, I wiped down my bike and headed out. When I walked into that class, I thought I would leave in pain, and miserable. I thought I’d be judged. I thought I’d never be able to come back again.
But the opposite was true. I left Verticity feeling great, despite how scared I was at the beginning, and how hard it was to open the front door. I think that’s the thing about working out, though – I have never left a workout disappointed that I decided to show up.
And I think that’s the thing about Jesus, too. If you get out of a cycle with Him, it’s really hard to want to get back into it. When you don’t go to Church for a while, the last thing you want to do is show up. Honestly, when I haven’t been going to services and someone even mentions Church, it scares me. Please, please, stop talking about Church. I haven’t been in forever. I seriously can’t go back.
But what is true about working out is also true about Christ – all you have to do is show up. And it’s not fair that no one tells us that. It’s not fair that we feel like we will be judged, or we internalize thoughts about how other people go to Church more often than us. And it’s certainly not fair that sometimes we feel empty, even if we have been going to Church.
But just because you have a monthly pass to the gym doesn’t mean that every workout will make you feel sore. The important thing is that you showed up. Even in the dark, when you feel like you have nothing left, you pedal. When you don’t feel Jesus, it doesn’t mean He’s not working. Sometimes He’s just waiting until your next sprint to pop up, or sometimes He calls out to you in a Marshmello song.
But He’s always with us. And He knows how hard it is to show up sometimes. He knows when we walk away, it’s hard to come back. We’re scared of being judged, of being sore, of being isolated and in pain. But I’ve never left being with Him disappointed that I decided to show up.
I just wanna let you know I’m proud – I just wanna let you know I’m proud.