“Every Christian is called to become a strong athlete of Christ, that is a faithful and courageous witness to His Gospel.” –Blessed Pope John Paul II
When I was younger, working out and staying in shape was pretty easy. I danced and played organized sports throughout my childhood and in middle school. In high school I developed a passion and a decent amount of skill in the sport of lacrosse, which I also played at The University of Texas. Back then it was easy to workout. There was a focus and purpose behind the workouts- running at 6am on the just-waking-up UT campus to stay conditioned, lift weights to keep my injured shoulder strong, biking to the local middle school track to do sprints and practice my lacrosse shooting skills against the wall, endure the sometimes grueling lacrosse practices, etc. All with the purpose of making you a better athlete to compete and play during the season and with the goals to beat our Aggie rivals and make it to the National Championships.
And when I played for teams representing a school, especially in high school and college, it was easy to put my workouts, practices, sports play, and eating and being healthy into a faith light. I was using the abilities and body God had given me to glorify Him in playing sports. And I was called to share my Catholic faith with my teammates and others in verbal and non-verbal ways.
Fast-forward to now. I’m married and a parish Director of Youth Ministry. I’m a night owl who enjoys sleeping and has a difficult time getting up in the morning. I have an extremely busy schedule, though I put a priority on my Catholic faith (see my last blog “I’ve Earned a Busy Badge!”) and the vocations of marriage and youth ministry that God has called me to. But since I no longer play any organized sports, I have lost my focus on working out and being as healthy as I can be and how it relates to living my faith in Christ.
I know working out and being healthy is important. I know I’ll be able to handle stress better if I workout and eat right. I know I’ll feel better about myself if I workout. I know I’ll be healthier if I workout and avoid most junk food. I know that after a good work out I’m more alert and in a good mood. I know that I feel better after I’ve cooked and eaten a meal I’ve prepared for myself then if I go out to eat every day. And I know that within my vocations of marriage and youth ministry, I need to be able to stay healthy. Heck, one of my two majors in college was kinesiology, the science dealing with the physiological processes and anatomy of the human body in relationship to movement and health, so I know all the why’s and how’s and necessities of working out and eating right.
And yet, it’s still sometimes hard to convince myself mentally to wake up early, or convince myself that I’m not too tired when I get off of work at 6:30pm or 7pm work to go to the gym. I know that working out and keeping healthy is what God has called me to do, because he’s given me vocations to live out, and if I don’t stay healthy I can’t live out these vocations to the fullest. I also know that God said to take care of our temples, which includes exercising and eating right.
So I’ll keep praying for the strength to wake up early, or be able to convince myself that I’m not too tired to work out when I get off of work (with iPod in hand and the latest Two Guys, a Girl and a Catholic Podcast synced, of course). And while it’s still a struggle for me to sometimes to work out and stay healthy, I know God dwells within me, and giving Him anything less than the best in all my actions, including those involving working out and being healthy, just wouldn’t be right.
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God…” -1 Corinthians 6:19
Interesting website sidenote: Catholic Athletes for Christ www.catholicathletesforchrist.com