Sometimes it takes a while for me to realize there is a harvest to reap from enduring. There is sustenance to be gained through the sweat of hard labour. This is proving to be true in both literal, and metaphorical terms in my life.
I go to the YMCA, and I lift weights. I raise the bar, I make the dumbbells heavier, but I don’t see any change. Then one day, I look in the mirror, and can make out the definition in my arms, and the muscles in my calves. Perhaps something is starting to take shape out of all this hard work after all. I’m encouraged to be a little more patient, and hope my persistence will pay off.
Lifting weights to strengthen my body has been like elevating the metaphorical ballasts of my life. Sometimes I wonder, does all this effort make a difference at all? Am I going through the pain to walk away empty handed? It can take a long time to reap the rewards of hard labour, and I run the risk of giving up before I realize what I’m walking out on.
I go to a friend’s house, and he has a portable chin-up bar. We secure it to his door, I raise my hands up and grab hold of the bar. My feet lift off the ground as I heave my entire body vertically high by the strength of my arms. My chin passes the bar line.
“I couldn’t have done that a year ago!”
In fact, a year ago I found it difficult to schlepp my 26 pound, two-year-old daughter around in my arms. Now, I am lifting over a hundred pounds off the floor. If I can lift myself, I know I can manage her. At three years old, my daughter is heavier now, but I carry her more. The weight of her body no longer feels heavy in my arms. In fact, I love picking her up because I know every time I do I get stronger, and we both reap the rewards of a momentary snuggle.
I lower my body back to the ground, and then repeat.
“That’s impressive,” my friend says.
“Really?” I ask surprised that’s it’s not only me who thinks so.
“Most women find it difficult to do one of those, and you’ve just done two.”
That’s enough to motivate me to try for a third. Success!
This gets me thinking, the ability to pull my own weight came after lifting smaller weights, and continually increasing the poundage on my bar. Sometimes, I look at the added pressures in my life and think, “I really don’t need this. I’ve been through enough. Just leave me alone and let me sit on my couch and veg.” Then, I physically see the progress of endurance and I know I couldn’t have lifted myself off the ground without getting off the couch and doing the work. I think if I can see each obstacle as a gift, as equipment that will make me stronger, instead of burdens that will bring me down, if I persist, and engage, that is where my victory lay. If only I can perceive the work outs of life, in whatever context, as an opportunity to strengthen my core, and to fortify my arms so I can carry my own weight, and lift another when they need to be carried. Obstacles are the provisions that will build my character, define who I am shaping out to be, and reinforce the strength I need to gain, to endure the greatest trials of life.
I want that. I want to be an over-comer. The weights of life will only get me down if I let them. Or, they will prove to be the tools I choose to use to define who I am shaping out to be.