April 1, 2015
Something that I have been struggling with the last few months is how to fit faith and fitness together. When I choose to work out I feel like I am choosing not to spend time with God. I feel guilty about choosing to sweat over praying. I feel selfish choosing to strengthen my muscles rather than strengthening my scriptural knowledge. Why does it have to be a choice? Why not just do both? I do try, but I just don’t have the time every day.
You see, as a stay-at-home mom of two young toddlers I get ZERO alone time. On top of that it is very hard to do most things with my kids awake. My little blessings are 3.5 and 2 and very demanding of my attention. It is hard for me to do things that require my concentration, e.g. Bible study and exercising, while they are around to distract me. And trust me, they work hard to distract me at these times. I have learned that I have to prioritize what I will choose to do when I do get alone time. I am sure there are many other moms out there that can relate to this.
If you aren’t a parent, chances are you are pretty busy too. You probably work, at least most of your day, maybe go to school, have a pet, spend time with friends. Everyone is busy in this world and we all have to prioritize. That is my struggle. How do I prioritize anything before God? Even if it is something that keeps me feeling good about myself and loving myself. The truth is spending time in the word makes me feel amazing too. I have grown so much this last year attempting to spend daily time in the word, in prayer, journaling, and focusing my mind’s eye on Him. So, do I give up working out and dive into the Bible head first, every moment I get? Probably not. So, how can I choose exercising, when I get the chance, and feel like God is ok with that?
I am no Bible scholar but I will offer these two verses which, to me, offer differing opinions.
Paul says here that when we invite God into our lives that He will send the Holy Spirit into us and our bodies become a temple that God can reside in. Shouldn’t we then work on our bodies as an offering and sacrifice to God?
Paul states that exercise has some value, but that godliness has value for all things-not some things. He implies that physical training holds no value for the life to come. Isn’t that what we Christians are supposed to look forward to and work towards. Is working out just a distraction from this?
The truth is that every day I have to choose to spend time with God the first chance I get. I have gone through several phases where I wake myself up at 5 am so that I can get a good hour alone with Him and in the word. This way I have put God in the first part of my day and I can allow myself other choices throughout the day, like working out. But waking up at 5 am does not always happen. What about those days? I have to tell myself every day to choose Him first because he chose me.
Now, it might sound like I’m sort of cool with this. Like I probably just don’t want to work out that much or I am just “that kind of Christian” that has the concentration and desire to study the word and pray. Let me correct this. First, spending this daily time with God takes a tremendous amount of effort on some days. But the more I do it, the more I thirst for the word because I never know what I’ll learn about God and His desires for me. Second, I am dying to work out. I love working out! It feels good in the moment and afterwards. I need to feel like myself again and working out helps me with that. After having two kids, back to back, I don’t have the body I once had. Not that I was a supermodel by any means, but I definitely looked better then than I do now. I want to look at myself and feel proud, happy, and excited about who I am. I deserve that. Right?
I don’t know.
The more I get to know God the more I learn about how to please Him. It pleases him to build a relationship with him, through prayer and study of the word. Does it please him to work on my body?
I don’t know.
I am still in this struggle and only get a few workouts in a week because I do put exercising behind other things. I’m curious to know if you have been or are in this struggle and how you work it out. What do you think? Is it ok for Christians to prioritize exercise? Does God still love us and take pride in us when we choose to work on and love our bodies?