I read a blog post recently by author and fitness expert Lisbeth Darsh that articulated many of the things I’ve been thinking about lately. If you read last week’s post, then you can probably guess that one of those things is the growing sense that our planet is spinning out of control as Jesus’ second coming draws near.
Ms. Darsh, a fellow writer and CrossFit enthusiast, has similar sentiments. Though her beliefs – so far as they’re related in her article – aren’t informed by biblical prophecies which foretold the global “birth pains” we’re now experiencing, she, like millions of Americans, recognizes that this world is “on fire.” She writes:
“The world is on fire, the United States seriously might be selecting the road to dictatorship, and here we are—talking about burpees and deadlifts. What the heck do power cleans have to do with a peace that seems to elude our society at this point in time?”
I said something very similar to my husband Ben just this week. I was lacing up my Chucks when the thought hit me, “People are dying. Our nation is fighting. Everyone is full of fear and outrage. And here I am about to lift weights.”
Suddenly it all seemed so silly.
Silly to get excited about hitting a personal record on a high-rep set of deadlifts.
Silly to get excited about eating the perfect amount of protein, carbs, and fat as part of our gym’s bi-annual “Macro Challenge.”
Silly to get excited about watching the 2016 CrossFit Games on TV.
Silly to post pictures of my workouts on social media.
None of those things seem to make sense right now, do they?
Lisbeth answered her own question with this thought-provoking statement:
“Those things [deadlifting, push pressing, back squatting, etc.] help me to move better, feel better, think better, and treat everyone in my life better … I emerge from a workout with a patience and a kindness for people that I did not have so strongly before I entered the gym.”
I’ve written at length, in my books and blogs, about the various benefits of exercise that far surpass physical health. Being fit enables us to serve others better because we have the energy, strength, and confidence to do so. Serving, in turn, improves our mood and boosts our self-esteem because helping others has the magical effect of making ourselves feel joyful and fulfilled. When we’re joyful, we naturally feel more motivated to want to exercise and eat healthy, and so the cycle of wellness continues.
For some reason, I’d gotten it into my head that fitness, and all the wonderful things go with it, must fly out the window now that the world is seemingly imploding. Shouldn’t I be doing something else, like praying more, watching more of the news, or showing more sympathy, instead of squatting and worrying about how much protein I’m consuming?
Ms. Darsh reminded me that the benefits we reap from exercise – patience, kindness, discipline, peace – are needed now more than ever.
It isn’t when the future is bright, our freedoms are assured, and our fears are abated that the aforementioned virtues are needed most, but when the opposite is true.
I don’t know about you, but the gym is many things to me.
Some days it’s a haven, the place I go to meditate and pray as I row 5,000 meters with worship music blaring.
Other days, it’s a boxing ring, the place I go to pour out my stress on bumper plates and barbells.
Other days, it’s a playground, the place I go to have fun and hang out with like-minded friends who consider weightlifting a foremost hobby.
But every day, the gym is a workshop, a place to improve myself in one area or another. With every workout, I learn something about myself, be it a physical shortcoming, a mental block, an emotional weakness, even a spiritual dilemma. I walk out of there more in touch with who I am as a wife, a friend, a daughter, a writer, a child of the Most High God.
If I only worked out for reasons rooted in pride and vanity, it would be silly, especially in light of the times we’re living in. Darsh put it this way:
“How sad would that be? To be that kind of human. To be selfish and have my words be only boasts, clouds of self-aggrandizement that pollute and choke, instead of clarify and sustain. If this happens, slap me.”
Changing this world for the better starts with changing ourselves for the better. Activities that mold us into stronger, fitter, less stressed human beings shouldn’t be minimized or degraded. Instead, we should optimize the time we spend doing them and ensure that our reasons for participating are ultimately motivated by a desire to glorify God, help others, and shine like beacons in a storm.
What are your thoughts on working out in dark times? Please comment below or tweet me @dandersontyler!
 Matthew 24:4-34; Luke 21:25-26; Romans 8:22
 http://wordswithlisbeth.com/2016/07/23/power-cleans-at-a-time-like-this/ (accessed July 24, 2016)