After a nearly four year hiatus, I am exercising again. As with most habits that require discipline, I must be dragged into them kicking and screaming. Fortunately, I married a man who is not afraid to drag. (God knew what He was doing there.) So for many early mornings this past month, I’ve ridden in Brad’s passenger seat, silent with my arms crossed, as we prepare to pant and groan through the ominously named “Boot Camp”.
And now, one month later, I like it. It’s funny how that happens.
Yes, it hurts and feels like torture. And yes, I cringe when made to crawl across a floor soaked in the sweat of strangers. But there is a dignity that comes from accomplishing hard things.
* * *
Sometimes, my girls cry when I make them get out their math workbooks. I am not sympathetic. I am also not mature. Usually, their tears result my own raving rants, which were the closest I came to exercise before joining “Boot Camp”. It isn’t that I’m a math fanatic. Sure, I believe in education, but my deafening diatribes are rooted in a value even more fundamental than arithmetic. My passion is this: I want my kids to do hard things.
I want to do hard things.
Anyone can love the friends who make them feel good. Anyone can enjoy a nap in the bed. These aren’t bad things. But they are easy. They aren’t the things that tone our heart muscles and make us a strong force for good.
There is so much I want for me, and for my girls. Hard things.
I want us to pick up the phone and extend love when it is uncomfortable. I want us to make dinner for the family facing surgery, even when it is inconvenient. I want us to choose vegetables more often than candy, work more often than television, and courage more often than fear. I never want us to downsize our dreams because of the labor required.
But I fight most things that require discipline. And so do my girls.
* * *
Sometimes Christians get a bad wrap for being Doomsday fanatics, as if we’re a bunch of crazy street corner preachers shouting that the end is near. I don’t know when “the end” will be. But I know two things: One, the end is getting closer every moment, and two, Jesus said things would get really hard towards the end.
Scripture says many will fall away from Christ as things get harder.
I could spend my whole life pursuing comfort and learn nothing about endurance in hard times. Doing hard things, and with endurance? There are eternal implications there. Our hard work doesn’t earn us intimacy with God; only Christ’s blood does that. But God’s children can live ineffective lives in pursuit of comfort, or sweaty, groaning, powerful lives in pursuit of His Kingdom being seen on earth.
Sweating is starting to sound so good.
* * *
The last time my girls wept over math, I drew a line in the sand. I told the girls we would do hard things. Myself included. We had a long talk. They had noticed I tell Brad that it’s “too hard” to fit in writing. So I vowed to write. They vowed to learn.
I printed a simple sign
and taped it between their beds. It says, “I can do hard things.” I read them Phillipians 4:13
and told them about Christ our strength. Our new mantra around here is simple. “I can do hard things.” We celebrate all that makes us sweat and strain and grow.
Usually, one of us in the family resists discipline, nearly kicking and screaming. (It isn’t always a kid — and it isn’t usually Brad.) But that’s what family is for. We can drag each other along. And in the end, even the most unyielding of us enjoys the gratification of perspiration and accomplishment.