Over the course of a very long school year with the kids, I have fallen off my fitness wagon. For two years, I have fought to stay on that wagon and now I have left myself in the dust. So with the end of school in sight, I have begun the long climb back to fitness. I am starting with a Pilates class. Less intimidating than the treadmill, a kinder, gentler attempt to find my abs again.

Still, even this kinder, gentler approach leaves me sore in places I had forgotten and I am sticking to the back row for sure. This is the safest spot for the most part…safest right up until our Pilates guru requires the class to face the back of the room. With dread, I flop over aware that now everyone can see me struggling to keep my leg at a 90-degree angle. Who am I kidding? I am lucky to be maintaining a decent 45.

This act of voluntary humiliation, along with all the other voluntary and not-so-voluntary acts of humiliation I experience daily, has me thinking…thinking about just what it is I think I am about in life.

Early in the morning, staring head on at my mirror image in all my sweaty, panting glory, I am confronted with the reality of my weakness. I have come face to mirrored face with the assumptions I make about what it means for me to succeed.

I have always thought that if I put my mind to it, I could achieve most of my goals, as a writer, a wife, a beastly fit, though slightly over the hill mom. I am always pushing myself to work harder, to try harder with the assumption that achieving what God has called me to achieve will result in the ultimate success of my endeavors. It isn’t as though I thought all my effort was the only thing that was required. I assumed that God would make up the difference, that together we would make it happen, whatever that “it” might be. But what if I am operating under a false premise? What if God wants me to work hard, to sweat and groan and press on but without reaping the outward fruit I see in the lives of others?

I love Paul’s analogy of the church as the body of Christ. It makes so much sense of how we can all work separately toward one goal, each with our own gifts and talents. I have never thought of myself as a vital organ. To be the heart or lungs, the feet or hands seems like a lot of pressure and way too visible for me. But I have fancied the idea of perhaps some second tier system, important in its own way, quietly carrying out essential work without a lot of fanfare, but appreciated nonetheless.

What if I have been called to be a toenail or an eyebrow? Superficial and hardly noticed unless it malfunctions in some way. What if my caring out the plan God has for me means living in obscurity, sticking it out in the back row?

This is not the place where I pause for dramatic effect and wait for all the comments to come flooding in telling me how important I really am. This is the place where I learn to truly embrace Paul’s image of the body, whatever my place in it. This is where I look in the mirror and make peace with what I see. Maybe in doing so, I will make myself more worthy of a place in the higher ranks and then again, maybe not. Maybe I will just be okay with hanging out in the back row, keeping my eyes looking forward, not in the mirror but at the class Instructor. After all, He is the one I should have been looking at all along.

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