Matthew 5:43-48
“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

I don’t think that Jesus was necessarily thinking about this trainer at my gym (I’ll call her Barbi) when he proposed this radical way of living.  Barbi is petite, perky, young and blonde. Between teaching classes,  Barbi works out hard yet never seems exhausted, or she sits pretty on a high stool, sipping a smoothie and looking at her phone.  In terms of looks and confidence, she’s everything I’m not.

I’ve only had two interactions with this woman since she joined the staff last December

The first was when I took her class and she found fault with my kettle bell swings. I tried to modify what I was doing to follow her directions. She finally huffed in apparent disgust, grabbed the weight and had me do a different exercise so I wouldn’t “hurt myself.”

I felt humiliated and decided then and there that I would not sign up for any more of her classes. There are plenty of other trainers. Lately, I have been feeling childish about that. Maybe I should give her another chance. After yesterday’s incident, I am not so sure.

I was taking a class and attempting to do one-arm rotational pull ups, while keeping my body straight. Fighting gravity to lift my body weight with one arm is incredibly difficult for me. I had never done it and was having trouble. I kept wanting to bend my knees. On the second set, I fell. I wasn’t hurt. The only casualty was the nail on my left thumb.

A few minutes later, Barbi breezed past and said, “It’s good that you fell so early in the morning. There was almost no one here to see, so you shouldn’t be embarrassed.”

She didn’t stay around to hear me reply, “but I’m not embarrassed.” Still I was hurt by her words.

I’ve lived through many embarrassing moments at the gym. In my first class, I got both feet stuck in the pedals of a spin bike, fell down and didn’t have the strength to extricate myself. Two trainers had to pull me out. I fell off a foam roller, flew backwards and hit my head on a row of kettle bells. I had a knob on my head for a week. After these and other embarrassments, I’ve gone to my car to sit and cry and vow never to go back.

As I showered and changed, I had an imaginary conversation with Barbi in which I explained how difficult it is to be 56, overweight and go to a 5 am class before work. I wanted her to know how easily I criticize myself. I’m mean to myself; I don’t need her help. I’ve got it covered.

I’m not going to the gym to impress anyone with my transformation or to see a lower number on the scale. I just want to be stronger in order to help my husband who has Parkinson’s. I want my clothes to fit so I won’t have to replace them. Against those benchmarks, I’m doing OK.

I have such thin skin, especially when it comes to doing “athletic” things. I regress to the awkward, overweight kid who did everything to get out of gym class. Barbi doesn’t know anything about my struggles and my poor self image. She probably has no clue how her off hand remark hurt me. For all I know, she was trying to be nice.

As I was leaving the gym, I saw Barbi teaching her class the same move, but with bended knees. Hmmm. I think that makes it a bit easier with less risk of a fall.

So I am praying for Barbi. May God abundantly bless her and make her successful in her career. I need a trainer who will be gentle with my fragile confidence, but perhaps Barbi’s style is just what someone else needs to improve. I hope that those who take her classes will feel encouraged and be inspired by her example. I pray that she will build confidence in her students. While I’m at it, I will pray that I can detach myself from a silly pride that leads me to brood (and write a blog post) about how easily I am wounded by a few words.

Perhaps one day, I will have that talk with Barbi or take one of her classes, but for now, praying is all I can do.

#prayer, #embarrassment, #gym, #enemies, #confidence,#pride