Thursday, May 27, 2010

Getting Ripped For Heaven

I didn't want to do it. I did it anyway. Sometimes it feels right and good. Sometimes it hurts. I was pretty certain that today was going to fall into the latter category. But I threw my gym bag in the car, dropped the top, and drove to the gym anyway. Why? Well. Because I was suppose to. Because I'm eating relatively little in order to drop a few pounds and it isn't working. Because I pay them $29 a month and I should take advantage of it. Because I told Debbie that I was going to and I thought it would just be a shame if she collected on my life insurance too early.

So I got there, scanned my membership card, changed clothes and went to make myself sweaty and miserable. I hit about 10 weight machines and climbed onto some aerobic equipment. This is the part I hate. Because it is boring. There are 6 or 7 flat screen TV's on the wall. You can plug your head phones into a little gizmo on your machine and tune in any of the TV's you want. There is a room called "The Cardio Cinema" where you can watch a full length, huge screen, surround sound movie in the dark while working out. And I still get bored.

There is something wrong with me. I already know. No need to point it out.

When I was finished I changed again, slid into the hot tub and the pool. Rough life, huh?

It was in the shower of all places when it hit me. The gym I go to is a Golds Gym. You've probably seen their logo. It's the figure of a bulked up guy holding a bar with dumb bells on each end. The weights are so heavy the bar is bowing. The guy isn't bowing. He's bulging. I stood there with soap in my eyes and I whispered out loud ... "No way. It ain't gonna happen." I've been going to one gym or another since I was in my early 30's. I use to run. I use to lift more than I do now. I've used every kind of aerobic machine you've ever heard of. And after all of these years I finally understood the truth.

No matter what I do ... I am NEVER going to look like that guy. No way. No how. I am always going to look normal. Why? I was never willing to give all that it would have taken to bulk up like that. Honestly, I wasn't there for that purpose. I'm still not. I'm just trying to make sure I leave an old corpse rather than a middle aged one. I'm just trying to make sure I'll be able to actually LIFT my grandchildren rather than just look at them and have them push me around in a chair that has big wheels. Some of the men walking around the work out area really do look like the God's Gym guy. I look more like today's version of Chevy Chase. (Sorry, Chevy.) But more and more ... I'm good with that.

For me, First Timothy 4: 8 puts it all in perspective. It says, "For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." I want to bulk up on godliness. I want to be all that God wants me to be. One prayer that I have prayed for decades is, "God, do whatever you want to do in my life today to make me the man You want me to be." When God began answering that prayer ... I stopped praying it. Because I found out that it hurt. A lot. But lately I've been praying it again. I guess I've just realized that, hey, if I turn back now .... well, I've run about 5/8ths (6/8ths?) of a marathon and then I sat down on the curb and ate some ice cream. Who would do that? Am I really that stupid? Sometimes, yeah. I am. But I'm trying to break myself of it.

Usually when I get in the shower I just get wet and soap gets in my eyes and then I have a good Herbal Essence cry. Today I got more than I bargained for. I got a reminder of what I am not. And I got a reminder of what I am.

And honestly? I wouldn't trade. Cause in heaven ... baby I want to be ripped.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A picture of love

They were an aging couple when I spotted them. They were older than I am but younger than I will be in 15 years. They were going up the escalator and I was going down. They were entering the hospital and I was leaving. They could have been anybody. As a matter-of-fact, they WERE anybody. I would not recognize them now if they walked into my living room. And yet there was something different about them. She was on the step above him and she talked on the cell phone. I imagined she was talking to a close friend that was a nurse or a medical expert of some sort. I think she needed advice. She looked straight ahead but her body was turned toward the left. And he, a step below, leaned into her chest. His eyes were closed, his head buried into her. Standing on a lower step allowed a minimum of hunkering down on his part in order to fit perfectly into this place of comfort.

You know how escalators are. You go up. They go down. They go up. You go down. You see people across from you for a moment and never again. But this couple remained in my mind as I walked through the parking garage. It was easily in excess of 100 degrees down there. You could taste the air. It was dark and heavy. But all of those feelings and sensations escaped me as the scene on the moving stairs played itself out in my brain again and again. He was sick. She was well. She was bringing him to a specialist at this world renown hospital. He was tired of fighting. She was resolved to get him help. All of his senses were geared toward just getting there and sitting down. All of hers were geared, laser-like, toward getting her husband back. He was not giving up but he was clinging to her for direction and she had become his hope.

Maybe I am wrong about all of that. I don't think so. But this much I know. I was looking at a picture of love. Love is something that is tough to define. But when you see it... you know it. It was not in their walk because they were not walking. It was not in their speech because they were not talking to each other. It was in their posture. It was in their faces... one resolved... one resigned. One defending... one depending. But mainly I felt it. It's waves rippled out from this couple like the sound of a gentle murmer spoken in hushed tones. It was the sound of a crises shared and a solution sought. I had no place in their world. I will never know how their appointment went. I will always wonder what news they received. But I learned from them today. They taught me two lessons. Lean. Support. And of course they taught me a third.... love. no matter what.