To start off being quite honest, I’ve never liked stationary gym bicycles. I find the idea of spinning in place sort of ridiculous and, at times, unnerving. Why bother cycling in place? Go take a walk, go on a run, put on a weighted vest or a tactical ruck sack and go on a weighted hike—but cycling in place?
Of course, I don’t have a personal vendetta against cycling in place, in fact, I find my social media platforms more and more under bombardment from commercial ads trying to sell me the latest and greatest workout stationary bicycles available. I have yet to receive my economy stimulus check, and corporations are lining up to help me spend it. However, over the last few days, when I reflect on my internal wiring and sources of discomfort, I can’t help but imagine myself turning the gears and cycling away on a stationary bike, working tirelessly to go forward, and finding myself just staring at the same thing, object, wall, place, etc.—fill in the blank.
This season has been very disruptive, which qualifies this post for the most obvious and redundant piece of writing of the year. However, when I start counting the many ways in which my own goals, plans, and objectives for this year have been disrupted, I can’t help but picture my thoughts returning to that agonizing stationary bike, pedaling away, and going nowhere.
Were COVID-19 not here, I would be departing from my current job this week and beginning a new amazing opportunity next week. Were COVID-19 not here, my gym and fitness routine would probably be in a better and more effective place and pace. Were COVID-19 not here, I would feel better about the down time and the boring days without much going on. Were COVID-19 not here, I would be happier—I think? And that’s where I arrived at a problem with my internal wiring and self-assessment.
As much as I love to portray confidence and strength—two of my top fifteen words—I will also be the first to admit to and give myself a Yellow Card when my internal math isn’t adding up, and the math isn’t currently adding up.
There’s a critical problem at stake when happiness, personal success, and accomplishment are primarily measured on a timeline, with benchmarks, deliverables, completion percentages, and proofs that we fabricate for ourselves that inform us: “I am not wasting my time! I am doing things!” Much like everything else in life, and probably ingrained in our Western concepts of progress and accomplishment, we can’t help but look for ways, evidence, and “data” that inform us that we aren’t just cycling in place. But I won’t lie to you. I won’t sit here and tie this up in a bow and say “I figured it out! I have transcended my internal drive and hunger for accomplishment and self-fulfillment.” No, but what I will honestly declare is that, much like all the other uncertainties in life during this season of COVID-19, I have to come back to the Holy Spirit and trust, and be confident, that God isn’t social distancing, God isn’t freezing job onboarding, God isn’t quarantining Himself, God isn’t taking a break from us.
As much as I find this season unnerving and endless, the very realization that I am struggling and battling these feelings and emotions when I wake up every morning, and as the sun sets every evening, is revelation from the Holy Spirit that I am not self-realized, that I am still being molded, that God wired me to not be able to do this alone. As much as our culture wants to triumph the individual, the challenges of this season are evidence that our lives aren’t self-sustaining temples of our own self-imagined hero’s journey, but that we are dependent, vulnerable, and fractured people in need of both the life-giving enriching community that we provide for each other and of the joy-pouring, purpose-lifting, and mission-driven love and passion that Christ, has for us on every instance of our lives. In fact, is that that very love and passion from Christ, funneled into us our lives every instance by the Holy Spirit, that fuels and enriches the church community we are called to be part of, and drives our sense of mission toward the many other communities we are called to serve.
I leave you with this verse from Hebrew, that I turn to time and time again when I need to be reminded of who my Savior is:
“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” Hebrews 1:3a ESV
“By his Son, God created the world in the beginning, and it will all belong to the Son at the end. This Son perfectly mirrors God, and is stamped with God’s nature. He holds everything together by what he says—powerful words!” Hebrews 1:3 The Message