Gifts from your personal trainer


I thought I needed a personal trainer to help me work harder. Turns out I often need her to slow me down. “I’m really happy with your progress; you’re pushing hard enough.” “I didn’t realize you thought you always had to be working at your max. Athletes alternate light, medium, and heavy weights. Let’s train like athletes.”


I think I hear my Father’s voice behind hers: “Tell me if it feels too heavy for today.” “Tell me if it hurts.”


In a world where people don’t always mean what they say, there is One who only invites if it’s okay to accept.

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

It’s not a last ditch patch to be applied when we’ve exhausted everything of our own. It’s gospel, the truth that it is finished and he is perfecting in us the work that He started. He welcomes because He wants us to rest in this love.

Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT)


I lay off the lifting and rub in the Voltaren and do the gentle exercises prescribed to heal the damage I’ve created by pushing through the discomfort.


I don’t mean to keep hurting myself. It’s just that I’ve lived so long in the world’s lie of over-performance that I slip easily into trying to fix my heart by working harder. Maybe, subconsciously, it seems stronger, braver, to push through than to pay attention. It’s not. And in “being strong,” I miss the gift.


Is this why He wants us to tell Him when it hurts? So we learn to hear His whispers through the intricate warning system He has knit into us?


That anxiety? It’s a sign that something has come between us and I’m clinging to it rather than Him. The desire for security, perhaps. Or the affirmation of others. Or the need to prove that I can fix it myself.


That resentment? It’s a not-so-subtle whisper that I’ve turned away from the Love which longs to fill and flow through me, and have acted instead out of guilt and obligation.


I used to call them “negative emotions” but now I call them gifts. I still don’t like the wrapping. But I love the whisper that’s hidden inside, inviting us deeper into the freedom of His love.


And the One who whispers? He’s always with us to  help us learn to listen and to guide us into all truth.


God who knit us together, bone and muscle, senses and feelings,

Teach us to listen to your whispers through our fears and hopes and struggles

that we may let go of the god of independence

and live free in your love.

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