I think all of us have had a fairly common experience in the past several months. We all certainly face our own unique mix of troubles, but one thing is common. It has been a hard time. There was the early stress of quarantine and learning new habits of working from home. There has been various levels of isolation and loneliness. We have had to make tough decisions in finances, tough decisions regarding education, tough decisions regarding politics, and even tough decisions about how to continue to connect with our faith community.
This piles up to mountains of stress. And we haven’t scratched the surface of the bigger picture political climate. There’s this little election under way that seems like a pretty big deal. There are cultural divisions. And there are plenty of people who want to tell us who to vote for, what to believe, how to practice our faith, and even what we must say in order to love our neighbors.
2020 has been a stressful year for all of us!
I would like to commend to you a spiritual discipline that many might not see as spiritual, while others will reject it as a discipline. Exercise has kept me sane (or maybe at least semi-sane). I have been biking since back in my seminary days when I first started Mountain biking in South Carolina with a friend. Since then I have always had a bike that gets good use in the summer.
In my mid-30’s I had a short stint with triathlons which reintroduced me to running. I ran track in high school, but it was never a lifestyle for me. Fast forward through ten years of a beneficial relationship with running that led to some knee and lower back issues and I haven’t been running consistently for a couple of years. So now I am back on the bike. And it has been such a good way to clear out the cobwebs. Biking and running have never been to me about winning or racing. It has been about defragmenting the hard drive. It has been a consistent way to engage this body that God has given to me.
I have found a pattern for myself that I cannot help but assume is true for others. When I exercise, even if it is just a nice long walk, I rest better. The more active I am, the better I sleep. The better I rest the more attentive and the less edgy I feel. And when I am less edgy I am also generally more kind and flexible.
God made us physical people. Our bodies ARE connected with our souls. Care for the body is care for a pretty important gift that God has given. He has tied us together to the physical world through these bodies. And he has given us exercise as a means toward better peace, even in the stress of difficult times.
Have you found this to be true? How have you been dealing with the stress of these past few months? I am so thankful for exercise that melts off more than pounds . . . It melts off worries and stress.