I wrote this for Internet Cafe Devotions last month and thought I'd share here.
I love Thursday morning spin class at my gym. It’s intense, sweaty and leaves me feeling exhausted in a great way.
A spin bike is stationary, of course. So no matter how hard you pedal, the bike remains in exactly the same place. Yet, every week my competitive streak flares and I try not just to survive spin class, but to “win” it. Throughout the class I compare my perceived effort to others. I try to keep my gear and cadence above what the instructor calls out. And I glance at the digital displays on the bikes of nearby riders to see if my “numbers” are better than theirs.
They’re doing it, why can’t I?
My heart pounded. Sweat flowed off my forehead and down my back. Yet, I felt discouraged. At the end of the class my body said, “Wow, tough workout!” But my mind said, “You’re weak—loser!”
The next week, the bike I chose shifted easily. Throughout class, instead of lagging behind, I stayed several gears ahead. A quick glance around the room confirmed, Yep, you’re beating them! My adrenaline pumped and I finished class feeling victorious. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t as fatigued as usual, or that the victory came on an “easy” bike—I “won” spin class.
Letting a fickle machine and the perceived performance of strangers validate and invalidate my results is silly of course. But my competitive nature can be my fatal flaw: I constantly compare myself to those around me—and use them as my barometer. When tail winds of affirmations, praise and success make the ride easy, I feel great…and worthy. When the head winds of rejection, stress and failure press me back, my spirits sink. Up and down goes my self-esteem.
All around us, every single day, the mirrors of life reflect who we are, what we’re worth and where we fit in. They label us (and we label ourselves) by what is seen: Popular, smart, beautiful, talented, winner … Weak, rejected, fat, stupid, loser.
How this must grieve our Savior. That we believe these fickle, flawed labels instead of the heavenly ones He so preciously obtained for us:
Forgiven … worthy … accepted … known … victorious … redeemed ...
One day I hope this amazing truth permeates into the center of my being, because isn't the greatest victory to truly know and accept the love God has for us? To that end, I pray as David did:
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139: 23-24)