punyMy Puny Body

I sucked in deep gulps of air, and kicked my foot out of my toe clips. Whew! That hill grew since the last time I rode up it, I thought. My gelatinous legs could barely support me as I dragged off my backpack and dug around for a protein bar.

“Let’s go!” Pedro called out to the group of students in front of me, and they all took off down the trail. I continued to cram my protein bar into my mouth, washing it down with big slurps of water.

I hoped the food would balance my blood sugar levels, because I felt a little light-headed. Fortunately, my twenty-nine inch tires floated over the loose rocks and exposed tree roots. My weak arms could barely steer the bike in a straight line. My puny-feeling upper body could only manage to grip the handlebars. How long had it been since I’d actually done a push up? My face flushed with heat (or shame). I hadn’t opened my Fit Star app in months, either. If no one tells me to do push ups, well, I won’t do them.

Unfortunately, I had lost all feeling in my posterior. My thighs ached from gripping the saddle as I stood and leaned back each time I rode downhill.

Each time I caught up with the slowest student, I’d shout out encouraging words and technique tips (whichever they seemed to need the most). Sure, my own bike-handling skills seemed ok, but I wondered if this intermediate nine-mile mountain bike ride would kill me. I felt so weak and puny.

What Went Wrong?

Feeling puny? There's an app for that! http://wp.me/p7W1vk-eo #BGBG2 Two months ago, I completed my first marathon, and now I could scarcely survive a mountain-bike ride. I guess it goes to show that if a gal doesn’t exercise vigorously, she’ll fall out of condition pretty quickly. I spent my summer traveling. My last strenuous hike occurred in late June.

Of course, I hadn’t quit exercising cold-turkey. I still managed to get my 11,000 steps a day in—only most of them accrued from walking with my grandson or wandering around wildlife refuges in search of birds. I could blame the elevation change—I spent most of the summer near sea level—or I could blame the stress of the first week of a new school year.

Or I could just blame myself, because I hadn’t made running a priority all summer long. Like a lot of things in life, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Evidently, I lost it.

Puny Faith

Likewise, if we don’t use our faith on a regular basis, it will grow weak and puny. I remember when I got baptized, I expected that I would no longer make mistakes or get in trouble.

If we don't exercise our faith on a regular basis, it will grow weak and puny. #BGBG2 Click To Tweet

Of course, instead of getting to know Jesus better, I focused on ‘doing church right.’ It took another four years for me to figure out that relationship mattered more than rule-keeping or religion. It took a few more years for me to discover that the King James Bible wasn’t the only translation (and I love how now I can find just about any version of the Bible on the free YouVersion app).

And for the last 37 years, I’ve tried to spend time daily exercising my faith. At times, my puny efforts don’t amount to much more than scanning a few Bible verses and a prayer flung heavenward. And when trials or calamities hit, I can gauge my spiritual condition by my reaction. If I gasp, weep, and feel beaten down by the devil’s first darts, I know I have reverted to my puny pursuit of Jesus.

When I hunger after him and seek to know more, think more, and love more, I find it easier to face impossible situations. I can smile as I pause to listen to Hope speak my name.

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  1. Anita, this is spot on! Similar challenges that sidelined me in the past, lose their power as I sink deeper into knowing our Heavenly Father more and more. Thanks for the reminder that our spiritual muscles need to be exercised on a regular basis. (Side note: weren’t you spending time and investing in that precious grandson this summer? I’ll beg every hug and chuckle you shared was strengthening his little love muscles, not to mention giving God a grin.)

  2. As in most things, not using it does cause losing it. Take my stamina treadmill for instance. Nevermind, don’t TAKE it I need it! I use it! And I don’t want to lose any of the gains I’ve made. GO DO SOME SIT-UPS. There, someone told you to do it.

  3. Amazing how we get focused on church activity and not pursuing a relationship with Jesus. I like the analogy you used in being physically active to keeping our faith active. By the way, congrats on finishing your first marathon!

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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