Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
After a thoroughly long day of meal prepping, dish washing, boo-boo kissing, disciplining, laughing, sometimes crying and repeating myself over and over and over, I cannot wait to lace up my sneakers. One hour to myself – to move, sweat, stretch and bend my body – it is vital to this unbored housewife.
I did not always crave exercise. There was a time in my earlier years of motherhood when the thought of exercising after a long day of parenting seemed laughable – even ridiculous. I had a million reasons not to work out. Exhausted – check. Not enough sleep – check. Not enough time – check. Depressed – check. Lacking exercise clothes that fit – check. If this sounds like you, I get it, mama. I feel ya.
But since a few weeks after the birth of my last baby, I haven’t waivered in my commitment to exercise this body that God crafted just for me, and here is why:
1. I want to look good.
Let’s go ahead and discuss this one up front. Yes, I want to look good. As a married woman, I want my husband to desire me. And I want my skinny jeans to fit well – sans muffin top. I want to feel comfortable in my swimsuit while playing with my kids at the pool. I don’t want to hate every single picture that is taken of me.
Perhaps a better, more Godly way of stating it is this – I want to feel comfortable with my appearance. I don’t want to feel awkward in my skin suit.
You see, we can turn anything into an idol, including our appearance, and I am certainly not above falling into the trap of vanity. Focusing on “looking good” can lead to an unhealthy preoccupation with an exterior image that is fading daily with age. As I sang a million times during my college years, “All that shimmers in this world is sure to fade away…” (Bonus points if you can name the song.)
As women we’ve received a lifetime of distorted messages about what it means to “look good” and we are prone to compare, compare, compare ourselves to every other female around us. Vanity is ugly like that.
As a Christian, I seek to navigate a course somewhere in the middle. Yes, I want to look good, but not in a vain and competitive way. I want to feel beautiful, but that should never be my primary focus. For I know that my appearance is in no way a barometer of my worth – no matter what society tries to sell me.
2. I want to feel good.
When I am in shape, I just feel better. Beyond the fit of my jeans, when I exercise routinely I sleep more soundly and have more mental clarity during the day. I am more patient with my children, and more eager to be intimate with my husband. I am also less likely to feel depressed.
We know that regular exercise helps us stay healthier, and although there is no avoiding the certainty of the grave, when we work out, we are caring for the body that God gifted us – which leads me to my final point…
3. It glorifies God.
Scripture tells me that my primary purpose – the reason that God created me – is to bring glory to him. And being thusly created, I seek to ask the question of everything I undertake in life, “Does this activity bring glory to God?”
There are many ways that exercising the physical body can glorify its Creator. When I work out, I gain a deeper appreciation of the miracle of the human form. After carrying, birthing and nursing three babies, I know full well that God designed my body in fascinating and mysterious ways. When I exercise it, I am compelled to thank God for gifting me with lungs that circulate oxygen to my cells, pores that sweat to cool me down, and muscles that flex when I draw in my limbs. Glory be to God for these designs.
Further, regular exercise equips me to be a better wife, mother, friend and community member. This glorifies God. I am far less of a witness for Christ when I am self-conscious, tired and depressed. Working out supplies me with the physical energy and stamina I need to fulfill my calling as an unbored housewife.
I also meet a lot of cool women in my exercise classes – high school girls, college-aged women, professionals, mothers and grandmothers. I touch their lives and they touch mine. This glorifies God.
Scripture specifically tells us that physical exercise is of value. In 1 Timothy 4:7-8, the Apostle Paul writes:
[T]rain yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance.
Therefore, I exercise to look good and feel good, all the while keeping my workouts in their proper place. “[F]or while bodily training is of some value,” seeking to glorify God is of eternal value. After all, bringing glory to my maker is the reason that I have breath in my lungs in the first place.
If you are exhausted, sleep deprived, overwhelmed by your schedule, depressed or in poor physical shape, I encourage you to find some type of exercise that you enjoy – and commit to it. When kept in its proper place, working out can help you look good, feel good and glorify God. It can make a world of difference to a tired mama – it certainly does for me.