a face like all the rest

My alarm went off this morning at 5:42am. I considered waking up at that moment but instead hit the snooze button, promising that the extra nine minutes would not deter my plan to walk out of the house at 6:15am. 

I left the house promptly...at 6:24am.

Less cars travel I-235 North at 6:30am than at 7:30am. There was ample time for prayer and for reflection, but my mind wasn't as awake as my mind so I focused on the road and the country radio station. My eyes were a bit more wide when I arrived at the gym, and the Emergen-C kicked in right before I started my work out.

15 minutes on the stationary bike. 5 minutes running on the elliptical. 5 minutes on the rowing machine. All my muscles ached after I rinsed off and changed into my clothes for work. The aching only intensified as the work day sped by.

It has been over a year since I truly worked out. There were sporadic trips to the gym. There were a few mornings my alarm was set, the snooze button was hit, and then the alarm was reset. A few evenings I planned to go to the gym after work, only to discover I had left my gym clothes and tennis shoes at home. By the time I arrived to the house, the couch, my dogs, and my husband appealed more than a run on the elliptical or swim in the pool.

A few times today I wondered why I was doing this to myself. Why couldn't I just restrict what I ate? Why couldn't I just walk around the neighborhood? Were the gym membership, the early mornings, and the locker room showers worth it?

It's now almost 10:00pm. I hate a healthy dinner of Persian eggs (eggs, eggplant, tomatoes, onions and garlic) over Jasmine Rice. I drank close to eight glasses of water over the day. I took a shower following Community Group. There is a bag packed with clothes for work tomorrow by the front door, along with my tennis shoes. I plan on sleeping in my gym clothes, and my alarm is set for 5:42am.

God's spoken to me through the aching today. His voice has been louder than my complaints of hurting all over, my jokes of this having been the first time I worked out in a year. And He has reminded me that this aching is what will make me change, what will sculpt me into the person I am supposed to be.

It won't be easy. I know that, but He has stressed it today and tonight. But it will be worth it.

As tired as I was at work, I also felt more awake. I was productive. I enjoyed talking with people on the phone more than I have in the past several weeks. I caught up on much of the work I was behind on. The eight hours flew past, and I found myself surprised when the computer screen informed me it was 5:00pm.

The work out ignited the passion I thought no longer existed for my work. It stirred me from the slumber I fell into weeks ago.

It's been one day, and thirty minutes of a cardiovascular workout. My muscles hurt. My eyes are tired. But already I feel changed. And I have so many days left. How much more will change?

It's not about the outward appearance; I know that. In the past, I focused on the shape of my face, the size of my pants, and the tone of my arms. I gave up when there were no results and went back to destructive lifestyle patterns. But this time, while the outward appearance will change (and I will welcome it), I'm more interested in how it transforms me inwardly.

As I lean into early morning work outs and welcome the sweaty forehead, I will learn why it is that change hurts. I will come to see how God molds me, shapes me, trains me. I will learn about tenacity, about commitment, about reaching goals and setting new ones. He'll show me how to replace my insecurities with His security.

Already, He is using this for His glory; it's bringing out the joy in my life. He is transforming my heart for Him, my heart for His will in my life. He's providing me with words, with thoughts. He's meeting me in my aches and showing me the beauty that will be gained.

And it was only a thirty minute workout.

(lyrics from "hero" by abandon)

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