Hi everyone! My name is Javier, I’m a student in Washington DC, and this is my first contribution to Mbird. I am really excited to be able to add my 2 cents, as I have been reading for a while now, and this site has been such a blessing to me. I am so thankful for the grace this blog (not to mention Judgment And Love and Who Will Deliver Us?) champions and how it always points me to the Cross.
Anyways, for my first post I wanted to delve into one of the great symbols of pure Law (at least for me): the Gym. I was recently reading a NY Times article: Personal Best: Fitness Isn’t An Overnight Sensation and it struck close to home.
When I was a child I was really into sports. Although I grew up all over the world, I always loved soccer and basketball. I watched sports religiously and could name all the stats and players, etc. Gradually, the exposure (somehow) led me to believe that I would one day join the NBA. I played on the local middle school team so – why not right!? Eventually though, as my confidence in telling people I was going to play in the NBA like Jordan grew, certain people got a little worried and tried to knock some realism into me. They would ask, “Do you know how many people want to get into the NBA?” I have never been good at math, but I got the picture, and with crushed dreams, I went back to just watching and admiring.
However, when I got to college, a new wave of athletic hopes came floating in. This time, I wanted to get buff. So, I made a little regiment and began pumping iron my Freshman year. Do not be deceived though, I came back aching all the time, and no matter how many protein shakes I drank, the “buffnesss” never really came. After about five months of trying and trying, I gave up. It just didn’t seem to be worth all the effort.
Now that I look back and think about it, I realize that I have grown scared of the gym and sports in general. Whenever I would walk in the gym, I would see people lifting weights who were like three times bigger than me (taller and buffer) and made me want to run away screaming. To me, it was a whole world – with the treadmills, and the ellipticals, and the free weights, etc. And there was a whole code of behavior – to stretch before and after, look in the mirror periodically to revel in the progress, to make it look easy. Plus, I always got the feeling everyone was looking at me. The message was simple: be perfect – have a perfect body and be chiseled like Michelangelo’s David! It was and is pure Law to me – telling me what to do, even though I know I can’t do it!
It’s no mystery now that I never followed through with that program. I even went to the gym the other day to take another stab at it; of course, I chose to go with an ex-marine – I have not been able to extend my arm fully ever since and I think my abs are internally bleeding! I always joke that the only reason I can run on a treadmill is that my motivation is right in front of me – if I stop, I’ll break my face! Nowadays, when I do go to the gym, it’s because I am listening to a song by Sufjan Stevens or a sermon that tells me that the cross is our salvation. Hallelujah because Christ has delivered us from this body of death!
I leave you with one of Luther’s prayers (from a book called Luther’s Prayers edited by Herbert F. Brokering) entitled “For Help to Overcome Sense of Unworthiness”:
Lord, it is for your honor and to your service that I now ask. Oh be praised and glorified. I plead, fully aware that you have glory, and that I am a poor, undeserving sinner. I cannot be without your help. You are willing and able to grant it all to all who ask for it. Oh see my need and misery, and help me for your honor’s sake. Amen.