When I came to terms with my softball career ending, one thing I struggled with was motivation for working out. Ever since I can remember, I had always trained for something. Whether it was sports growing up or college softball, I always had a very specific goal in mind every time I went to the weight room or the track.
I achieved many workout goals throughout my career, including fitness tests, mile times, weight lifting maxes, and vertical jumps. But aside from those little milestones, I knew that I was training for even greater goals. All my hard work would also make me a better softball player and a better leader for my teammates. And in all that, my prayer was that my hard work in training would bring more glory to God.
Sounds like pretty purposeful training, right? So the question I’ve had to face these past couple months knowing that softball is over… now what?
A few days after I made the call to let my general manager know that I would not be returning to the pro’s this season, I was in the middle of a workout with my husband. (Kevin is a personal trainer at Next Level Rising in The Summit here in Lawrence!) We were literally right in the middle of a tough weight circuit, and I had to stop the workout because I couldn’t stop crying. An ever-repeating thought kept going through my head…what’s the point?
I later had a conversation with one of my friends from Young Life about the issue. He too had been dealing with the fact that he was no longer training for sports. He joked that his motivation was that he was still single, so he had to stay in shape! I took one look at my husband and was like well, that won’t help me either!
But the reality is that I am facing the same question that everyone else who desires to live a healthy life has already had to deal with. And without a doubt, those who have motivation to achieve a specific goal are the ones who are successful. Whether it’s weight loss, a marathon, or hiking a mountain, it’s a proven fact that those who work toward something greater see more results.
In the Bible, Paul talks about this phenomenon of “straining toward the goal” without looking behind, but constantly pushing forward in the path that he has been called.
Philippians 3:13-14 says, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
I love how this translation uses the exact word of goal. I know I was created to be a very goal-oriented person, and this becomes applicable to every aspect of our life, from working out, to our faith. When we have a goal, we have our motivation.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 says, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
God’s Word says it’s OK to be competitive! Want to win and finish the race! But in the end, what are you fighting for? Are you fighting for a perishable wreath or an imperishable? In the context of this passage that Paul writes in his letter to the church in Corinth, athletes wore wreaths on their heads like a trophy, crowned winners of their competition. Why would we not choose to finish the race for a wreath imperishable if we had that option?
As I seek to find new fitness goals, I have many other hopes and dreams as well in other aspects of my life. My prayer is that each goal is molded according to the desires that God has for my life. I can see each goal through the same question: How will this aspiration bring glory to God? Through Jesus, we have the ability to exercise self-control in our lives and to discipline our thoughts, actions, and activities to try and surround ourselves with things that will bring us closer in our relationship with God. In all that you fight for, fight for those goals that are glorifying to the Lord in your life and are good in His eyes! Because His rewards are much greater than any other trophy or goal accomplished.