Did you know the name "Melissa" means "honeybee"? I didn't either, until I had the joy of befriending a honeybee almost three years ago. Melissa is one of my dearest friends. Her perspective helps me to better understand this life we're walking through together, as she sings of the steadfast love of the Lord & lives to proclaim His faithfulness to all generations. We started talking fitness during a program we participated in through Pine Cove called The Forge. About a year later, Mel began experimenting with lifting free weights and well, you'll just have to keep reading to get the rest of the story:
"This year I’ve been focusing most of my workouts around lifting weights. It has not only changed my perspective of working out, but has taught me lesson after lesson and it’s something I really enjoy! I was telling my dear friend, Hunter, that I’d never thought of myself as someone who could lift heavy things, mostly because I didn’t think I could ever be strong enough. There were times when I wanted to be strong, but didn’t do anything about it. Lifting weights has helped me see that I can be and that I actually am a strong woman.
Here are the top four lessons from the time I’ve spent in the gym to date:
Lifting weights will never be easy.
I keep waiting for it to get easier, but it won’t become less difficult unless I stay in the same place. I have to keep adding weight to get stronger. I want to be good at everything in my life, but it’s a game changer when I know I’m never going to be stronger than the next level up. There is a lot of freedom in that thought for me.
The gym is not for girls.
A friend who has been helping me with technique through some of my workouts told me that the gym isn’t for girls. At first I was a little offended because, well, I’m a girl. When he told me that I was whining, complaining, and telling him that I didn’t think I could lift what he wanted me to lift. I was acting like a little girl. But when I thought about what he was really saying and what I was doing it all clicked. The gym is not for girls. It is for strong women though, and if I choose to be a strong woman and not a girl the gym can be my playground and not my prison yard. There is freedom in acting in the light of our identity, even in the gym.
Lifting is better with community.
When I did the Forge back in 2010-2011 we would workout together every Tuesday-Friday morning from 6:45-7:30. I took that time for granted every morning. Once I was out of the Forge and had moved to Granbury then to Arlington for the two years following, if I wanted to workout I would be doing it alone. Simply put, that sucked. In regards to exercise, running is the one thing I thought that I liked doing alone. Then I went on a run with a friend back in May, and I was surprised by how much more fun it was! I loved having the automatic support system that came from a workout partner. Working out with people versus working out alone changes everything. Something that I’ve noticed about myself is that when I workout alone it is so hard with very little weight and I tell myself it’s okay to skip reps or entire sets. But when I have someone there with me it is still difficult, but by having encouragement and accountability from others I can push through and carry a heavier “burden”. There’s something about community that makes things “good and pleasant” when we dwell together as opposed to choosing the Lone Ranger lifestyle.
Failure is not an option it’s a guarantee.
I don’t like to fail. Like I said earlier, I love being good at things. Not only that but I like to look good doing it. That’s not the case in lifting weights though. The other day I added a semi-new move to my routine with a higher weight. I had been doing this move, but had been using dumbbells for it and this particular day I moved to the barbell. I was doing thrusters, so I cleaned the weight, squatted, and then when I went to overhead press it I hit myself in the jaw with the bar. It hurt a lot. I really could have cried if there weren’t so many people there and if my partner hadn’t said, “I think you’re going to be okay. Pick it back up and don’t forget to move your head.” I didn’t realize it at the time, but I ended up chipping my tooth and it sucked. It’s hardly noticeable for anyone else, but this goes to show that I will fail and mess up, but I can try again. I will fall, drop my weights, and chip my tooth, but I will choose to keep going because I know I can do this.
I’m so thankful for there is a bigger picture in something as seemingly menial as lifting weights. The lessons that are there for learning keep me motivated when I want to give up and make things easier on myself. I have found freedom in weight lifting. The gym that once felt like a prison cell has become my playground. There is freedom there, in being who I was made to be. And when I live in the light that freedom radiates, I can function out of the identity set before me."
What are lessons that you’re learning from your workouts that help you see the bigger picture?
Do you see your workouts as a freedom-filled playground, or as a prison yard that you would rather not step into? What are the things that need to change for you to be able to walk in freedom?