I was on holiday over Easter for about ten days, which meant I didn’t make it to the gym for about two weeks. And now I’m home again, I’ve apparently forgotten that I had grown to like going, had enjoyed the feeling of pushing myself a little harder each time, the sense of tired satisfaction when I make it each time to the last station.
Now I’m trying to trick myself into not going, like a young child tries to fool her parents into not noticing the uneaten vegetables. I make plans to go in the gaps between meetings, knowing full well I won’t be able to make it. It’s the 29 year old equivalent of hiding peas under my knife. It’s a little ridiculous!
I drink a lot of water. I only recently noticed this about myself. I always knew I should, like everyone does I suppose. In January this year I bought a cute reusable water bottle to take to the gym, and then started also keeping it on my desk during the day, refilling it each time it got empty.
Now I notice I’ve been drinking the recommended amount every day for the last three months without even realising it. When it’s sitting there within arms reach, I take sips through the day.
And I’m more often thirsty. If I have a morning without water, without my bottle nearby, I’m gasping by lunchtime. I don’t remember this happening before and all I can conclude is that my body had forgotten it was thirsty, because thirst had become the norm. My body was so used to being thirsty, it had forgotten it wasn’t meant to feel this way.
I wonder how many other bad habits I’ve learnt to find normal? And my gaze falls on the packed gym bag waiting for my enthusiasm – or more likely, for my guilt – to grew enough that I’ll use it again. I spend most of my days at my desk or at a coffee table in town. I hardly move, and I think my body has forgotten that this is not normal, not healthy, not fun, to lead such a sedentary life.
Some days I’ll leave the flat to see my bus just pulling away from the curb. Those days I usually decide to walk rather than stand and wait ten minutes for the next one. And as I walk, I always find myself feeling happier. I like walking in to town. I like noticing the people on the way, watching the shop window displays change with the seasons, spot the new daffodils that came out in the last week.
Last weekend I went along to a pole dancing workshop that a friend was organising. Despite the multiple purple bruises I came home with, I also took home with a new level of respect for my body. When our instructor had first showed us some of the moves we’d be doing I’d shaken my head in disbelief. But by the end of the 90 minutes I was managing it – all be it with a little less poise and effortless grace than her!
I was made to move, my body is an incredible gift that I rarely bother to unwrap. When I do force my unbelieving body back to the gym though, that first time back is like a distant happy memory being recalled, the dance moves coming back to me.
How many areas of my life might this be true for? I imagine that I must be “thirsty” without realising it in many areas, that I have taught myself to be used to something that is far from healthy, far from the abundant life we’re meant to have. In my thought patterns, my eating patterns, how I structure my time, my balance between work and rest and play.
Yesterday our pastor taught us at church from a letter written to some early Christians, who were going back to piling rule upon rule on themselves. “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.”
Sometimes I fool myself into thinking that the very things that bring freedom are things that bind me down. I think it about exercise; I used to think it about drinking water. How boring! What a chore! But really they are life and freedom and joy. And there is so much more that I risk missing out on by buying into the message of the slave instead of the life of the free.
Thirst has become a gift to me now because it shows me what I am lacking. I am aware now of what my body needs to function at its best. And I ask now that I’d become even more thirsty, that my eyes would be opened to the other places where I’ve grown used to a way of life that’s anything less than abundance and joy.
Because I want that fullness of life. Nothing else is worth settling for!
Picture source: Beccy’s Place; I edited it to add the quote.