by Aimee Byrd
Fitness. My family is obsessed with it. I was raised in a house with a good-looking version of Mr. Miyagi as a dad, and a mom who owned a gym (before Gold’s was a staple name). That’s right, even my garage was converted into an exercise room-slash-dojo. My mom led aerobics classes for the neighbors and my dad taught martial arts. Apparently, it wasn’t enough for them to be fit, or even for their kids, but the whole neighborhood was invited. And they didn’t need a reality TV show to make it happen.
I always thought my dad was just playing with us, but now as a mom who is trying to keep in shape, I realize that my dad’s evening activities with us kids doubled as part of his work out. He would make obstacle courses in the backyard and time us going through them with the neighbor’s kids. Of course, when he told me or my brother that we were up by just one second, that would make us run it through the next time even harder. Some evenings when my mom was working he would say, “I’ve got a great idea, let’s go up the stairs by doing 20 toe raises per leg!” Awesome! We were up for the challenge! Somehow, I found myself in my upstairs bedroom brushing my teeth and getting tucked in afterwards. Genius.
And then there was mom. I grew up with a strong mom. She had biceps! And this was before Jillian Michaels or Jackie Warner videos. Mom led neighborhood power walks with all the housewives. You would see them go by with their arms pumping in determination. And she knew how to use every resource to get women motivated. One neighbor had a pool, and so they had regular nights of aquatic aerobics.
My memories are of my mom and dad lifting weights together in the exercise room. I remember one night having trouble getting to sleep. You know how it is; you begin to imagine noises, or the regular noises you hear let your imagination take over. Well, I heard some heavy breathing. I was convinced that there was someone under my bed. I did that jump–the one you train for as a kid–the save-your-life-jump, straight from the bed to the bedroom door (well that’s how it went in my mind). I quietly rushed down the stairs to find the perpetrators: my mom and dad were doing push ups in the family room. Really? Really. It was totally believable. That was my typical upbringing.
Perseverance is a huge element to my fitness upbringing. You just keep going, no matter what. You fight. You endure. You push. You fall down and you get right back up. Fitness takes a state of mind, a way of life. That’s what fitness is—aptitude. And that is why we valued it. My parents wanted an active life, and they kept in shape to have that freedom to move around with their kids.
Physical fitness training takes discipline. While exercise can really be enjoying, let’s face it, sometimes you just don’t feel like it. But to stay fit you must continue anyway. Stamina and fortitude develop from this kind of mindset.
As an adult, I have picked up on the physical fitness habits of my parents. And I have come to see a lot of parallels in my spiritual life. Every Christian will persevere, but perseverance takes fight. It’s a way of life. I have found that scripture encourages us to a kind of theological fitness in perseverance. One of my favorite verses in the last year has been Hebrews 10:23, “Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Holding fast is an active exhortation. It takes fitness. It also takes discipline and stamina. But what is it we are to hold fast to? Our confession of hope. In order to do this, we need to know what this confession is. We need to know the God who promises. That’s where the theology comes in. Theology is the study of God, knowing God.
But unlike physical fitness, perseverance in the faith is not based on our own efforts. As we learn more and more about our great God, we find that we can be sure of our salvation because of his faithfulness to his promise. God has made a covenant with himself and his people, and he has already done the work to assure our salvation. Only Jesus Christ had the fitness for the cross. But we can be thankful that he gives us the fitness for the Christian life. After completing his work of fulfilling the law and taking our curse even to death, Christ Jesus was raised from the dead and has ascended to the right hand of the Father where even now he is interceding on behalf of the saints. He is the One who has persevered to the end so that we can be encouraged to run the race with endurance (Heb. 12:1-2). We can keep fighting, even when we get weary and life just seems too hard, because Jesus has already won the victory.
Hold on to God’s promises, and fight the good fight. I’ll see you at the finish line!
Aimee Byrd has discovered that “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a bit of a trick question. But she is enjoying all the avenues of discovery along the way. She has gone from a coffee cafe entrepreneur to a writer, both professions providing fuel for the thinkers of today. Aimee writes regularly on her blog, www.housewifetheologian.com, and is the author of Housewife Theologian (P&R, 2013). She lives in Martinsburg, WV in her favorite role as wife and mother. Aimee’s husband, Matt, and three kiddos give her much grace as she tries to pull the whole thing off. Thankfully, she has been sought by a Savior whose accomplishments are accounted to her as her own. Follow Aimee on Twitter @aimeebyrdhwt.
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