The middle aged lady snuck in late to the weightlifting class. Obviously a newcomer, she tried to hide in the back, but the class was completely full. A nice person in the back directed her to the front where there was the last open space between me and the mirrored wall and kindly fitted her with the lightest of the weights on a barbell. I helped position her riser and showed her how to grab the apparatus with her trembling and ring-less hands.
She wore a long-sleeved everyday shirt and wore baggy sweatpants over her grannies which kept peeking out with every bend of her body which, though not overweight, carried not one extra ounce of muscle. Gray roots belied her tired blond which was pulled back into a pony tail with a scrunchy. She had a kind smile and kept apologizing for her very presence. “I’m sorry to bother you,” she repeated, as I gave her tips on form while the class continued with various weightlifting drills to music.
Recent divorcee? Midlife crisis? I wondered, as she began to exercise, perhaps for the first time in 30 years. Or ever. She responded surprisingly well to the instructor’s cues.
“I bet you were an athlete growing up, weren’t you?” I asked during one transition between sets, partly to encourage her but mostly out of curiosity.
“No, I was always a wimp,” she laughed through her Tootsie glasses. (And if you just understood what I meant by that, then you are almost as old as she is).
I bet her kids and husband — ex- or not — never helped her get in touch with her inner athlete. You go, girl!
Although she tired easily and could not make every repetition, she didn’t quit. When the instructor called for increasing of weights for certain muscle groups, I encouraged her to keep her barbell as is…at 2.5 pounds on each end.
“Don’t want you to get injured,” I said, but I also didn’t want her to get discouraged. It’s so easy to go too hard on the first day, then never come back.
Somehow, the topic of pie crust came from the instructor on the mike who asked for a show of hands if anyone had actually made it from scratch.
This lady raised her hand.
I bet she spent all her life giving of herself to her family, always putting herself last. She stayed up late each night doing laundry and making pie crusts from scratch, for goodness’ sake!
I pictured her, maybe in one or two more years, showing the results of her consistent efforts at the gym — new definitions on her arms, abs, and thighs. I pictured her with a cute, updated haircut with color that better matched her skin tone. I also pictured her in a more form-fitting and revealing athletic outfit from lululemon like the many regulars in the class. I pictured her a confident woman, an empty-nester, enjoying life and contributing to society in ways she could not while her kids were little. I saw her whole and complete.
And that’s when it dawned on me — God pictures us whole and complete already, too. Not saying that being athletic and in shape is the definition of being whole, but He sees us already as the complete person He has meant for us to become all along.
He took a stuttering, bumbling, hot-tempered man like Moses and an overly-spontaneous fisherman like Peter and used them to change history. The Lord always kept the end in mind as he patiently worked with them. The same God can also take a fumbling, stressed out, insecure, and imperfect mom like me and make something out of my life, because He already has the end in mind. God already sees in me a confident and competent mother to my children. Maybe not a Tiger Mom, but at least a Panda Mom.
“Thank you! I’m coming back on Thursday,” she said enthusiastically as the class ended.
I sure hope so. You have no idea how much you encourage me today, so thank YOU.
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
- Philippians 3:14