Last month I lightened things up a bit and “jumped in the pool” with Part I of taking life lessons from swimming in the Lap Lanes. This month I’ll continue teaching life parallels from my gym workouts.
Lesson #6 – The Importance of a Greeting
I know the front desk employees at the gym are paid to greet me with a warm smile, enthusiasm, and encouragement like “Have a great workout!”, but it still makes me feel welcomed and associates the gym, in my mind, with a friendly atmosphere.
Greetings can have a huge impact. They convey many things in a first impression or greatly affect how a relationship or job begins. They also foster good feelings in our ongoing relationships. An unfriendly greeting, on the other hand, can trigger feelings of anxienty or doubt.
Positive greetings can contribute to feelings of safety and security in our relationships could always count on a friendly, warm greeting from my mom whenever I walked through the door. “Hey…It’s my Sweet Sarah…it’s so nice to see you today!” I miss that so much now that she’s gone.
Friendly greeters at our present church, posted at each door, were a great first impression and initially drew us there. Likewise, I remember when my three older children were young, I would purposely enter the mall through the Nordstrom entrance just because it was pleasant to be greeted by friendly, helpful people. It made my day a little less stressful to have smiling associates appear to be happy to see me.
Sometimes it’s easy with people outside of our homes, but how careful are we to greet our loved ones with warmth, a hug, and a smile in the morning? Or our husbands after a long day away from home? Are we focused on our own needs all the time, or are we demonstrating love through enthusiasm and encouragement for the ones we care about? Do they feel like we are glad to see them or even notice their entrance? Never underestimate the power of a greeting to make family, friends, and other people feel noticed, loved, accepted, valued, and welcomed.
Lesson #7 – Real Food
Inside my gym facility is a café. They advertise super healthy food that is free of preservatives, but they also have a lot of energy-supplements, protein shakes, and even Paleo meals to grab and go.
I’ve actually been on a diet this summer, using a calorie counting App called Lose It. With the calorie counting method, it really helps to use protein shakes for meal replacement to ensure that I get enough protein, without going over the allotted amount of calories. Since I’ve been doing this, I’ve noticed something interesting. If I go too many days in a row drinking shakes for breakfast AND lunch, I start to crave real food. This might sound obvious to most people, but I’m not what one friend would call a “foody” person — someone who thinks about recipes and special food preparations a lot and really enjoys cooking.
These past few months, I have felt this way in another area. I find that if I’m not reading my Bible regularly but reading other helpful and healing books, I start to crave the real food of God’s Word. Devotionals and great books on wholeness and healing are really wonderful, but I always want to make sure I am reading The Bible. Why is this? Because the Bible says that God is the “fountain of living water” (Jer. 2:13; 17:13 NLT), and Jesus is “the Living Bread” (John 6:51 NLT). Living water and living bread are the real super foods.
I try to make sure my spiritual diet is calorically high with mostly the real food of God’s Word and not clever and interestingly packaged food substitutes. I use all the food substitutes too but want the foundation of my nutrition to be the Bible.
Lesson #8 – Stop and Stretch
Why is it hard to stop and stretch in the middle of a workout? Why does it feel like failure to listen to our bodies and slow down or stop all together for a bit? Our bodies are like anything else in life: complicated, getting older, break unexpectedly, have inconsistent energy, and in need of repair.
Some days I feel great when I’m working out. I love those days. It feels great to push my muscles hard, get really winded, and work up a great sweat.
Other days are hard because of: fatigue, tight muscles, and pains from exertion the day before. On those days I stop and stretch a lot and try to focus on the end goal—health. I ignore the lies in my head that beat me up for stopping. When I see stopping and stretching as failure, it’s usually because I’m wrapped up in my To-Do List or the time clock by the pool.
When I was growing up, the concept of a Sabbath rest was a regular life pattern for our family. Especially on Sunday afternoon, we would usually nap and hang out as a family at home. I learned to give myself permission to stop and rest and saw rest symbolized as a positive thing.
We still try very hard to structure our week so we consistently have a Sabbath day. However, what has also worked for me in recent years is to take small blocks of time to stop and stretch and not always push myself when I don’t have to. Furthermore, if I’m particularly busy, I find a way to cut something out, make the prep easier, run one less errand, or slow my pace just a bit. By conserving energy, I have a little left at the end of the day for friendly greetings toward my own family.
Checking things off my list makes me feel productive and accomplished, and this is essential. But it is equally important to give myself permission to stop for short Sabbath moments in my day, even if it’s a mental break from work or electronics. This becomes easier when the foundation of our identities is not dependent on our tasks and responsibilities.
Sabbath moments in my day, even if it’s a mental break from work or electronics. This becomes easier when the foundation of our identities is not dependent on our tasks and responsibilities.
Our worth does not depend on our productivity each day, but was settled because Jesus loved us unconditionally and paid for our sins on the cross. What a relief! Our worth as God’s children does not depend on anything we do or don’t do. God wants to greet us each day as His beloved children as we stop and stretch in His presence.
Still Stopping to Stretch,