Day 27: Long Term Gains
When I first started lifting weights, I wanted instant results. I wanted cut biceps, bulging traps, massive quads and a defined six-pack right away. However, just like any sport, no victory comes quickly and easily. First, I had to get rid of my muscle imbalance. My back was weaker than my chest from many years of doing pushups while neglecting my back. And my biceps seemed almost non-existent. Second, I had to build muscle mass. Building muscle mass doesn’t happen overnight. It takes months and years of breaking muscle, feeding muscle and repairing muscle to actually grow it. I would get so discouraged when I compared myself to where I wanted to be or to where others were. But I needed to remember that I was just starting out, and I needed to speak positively over the gains I was making. I was learning an entirely new sport, and it would take time to improve.
Fast forward two years later, and I’m still training. Now I can finally see all the improvements that I wanted from the beginning. The only problem is that I can still see areas of improvement. There will always be parts of my body that I want to get leaner or bigger or more cut. The cycle never ends. Improvements can always be made. However, now I don’t let myself get discouraged. I know that bodybuilding is a process like anything else. I’m not where I want to be yet, but I’m definitely not where I was. I have improved and that is what counts. My efforts are making a difference. The same is true for our spiritual fitness. Many times Christians want to be spiritual powerhouses right away, but spiritual maturity takes time.
I used to compare myself to other Christians and try to be like them. But I didn’t have the spiritual maturity yet to keep up with them. Instead of enjoying where I was on my spiritual journey, I was constantly striving to be more than I was ready for. I wasn’t enjoying my life because I was too hard on myself and constantly pushing myself to grow faster. But just like muscle mass takes time to grow, spiritual mass also takes time. God must break us, feed us His Word, repair us and grow us; and the process of spiritual maturity doesn’t happen overnight. There is no rushing it. Instead of being hard on ourselves, we can rejoice in how much we have grown. And we can extend that grace to others who are living out their spiritual journey. We may not yet be where we want to be, but we are definitely not where we were.
“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church” (Ephesians 4.15 NLT).
God, help me to not be so hard on myself. I don’t want to always point out my flaws and my weaknesses. Instead, I want to trust that You are growing me to maturity every day as I seek You, Your will and Your Word. Shape me into the image of Jesus, making slow, solid changes each day. I know that there is much about me that needs improvement, but I also know that I am growing every day. I can see changes in my life from when I began to live for You. Give me Your grace throughout my day, so I can extend that grace to others. I want to enjoy the process of becoming like You, knowing that You will accomplish Your will in my life. I pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.
- Is there an area of your life that needs improvement?
- Do you find yourself comparing your spiritual journey to others?
- What area of your life have you gained strength through the years?
Slow gains are lasting!