I am in such bad shape. I haven’t had any sort of formal exercise program for years because (I told myself) my obligations as an early morning Seminary teacher made it impossible for me to work in a workout. So I’d hike the hills from time to time, but other than that I did little else but sit at my desk each day watching my waistline get doughier and doughier. My wife even took to calling me Jabba. (Not true, but I kept expecting it.)
Well, the Seminary excuse is dead, so I’ve little choice but to start exercising. I won’t bore you with my unimpressive plans, but I will say this much: One thing I did was download an app that creates randomized exercise routines that take little time, space, or equipment. (You gotta start somewhere, right?) So yesterday, with a bit of trepidation, I fired up my iPad and gave it a go.
It was everything I expected it to be. Which is to say, it was dreadful. I had neither strength nor stamina nor the internal fortitude to push through the lack of strength and stamina. My body was so traumatized by actual activity (Hey! What’s this all about?) that it took me as long to recover as it did to perform the rudimentary calisthenics. It was awkward. Painful. Embarrassing.
But you know what? Later that day it was kind of nice to feel the sort of residual stiffness that comes from exercise. And today? I’m sore all over, but it’s a good sore. An encouraging sore. Motivating even. I’m feeling eager to get back at it and reclaim a little dignity along with a couple of pairs of pants I no longer take off of the hanger.
As with any previously inactive dude who makes a few feeble attempts at working out, the test will be whether next year or next month or next week I’m still at it. It does get easier, right? And it does, eventually, bear fruit. That’s what we know from experience—and what we promise ourselves when we first set out. Ralph Waldo Emerson famously said: “That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do; not that the nature of the thing has changed but that our power to do has increased.”
Don’t get me wrong. I have no delusions of appearing on the cover of Men’s Health. But becoming a few pounds lighter would be a good thing. And having the sense of vigor that comes from regular exercise would be even better.
So what does any of this have to do with you? This: If you ever ponder coming back to the church you once loved, it may be awkward at first—uncomfortable even. That part is perhaps unavoidable. But if you’ll stick with it, I promise that we’ll minimize that discomfort for you. And at the end of that first Sabbath morning when you find yourself at home considering what just happened, I’m confident that you’ll feel encouraged—motivated even—to try again, and then again, persisting until your power (and inclination) to do has increased.
Ultimately, the benefit of reigniting faith far outweighs the trepidation you may feel about starting again. President David O. McKay once said: “Spirituality is the consciousness of victory over self, and of communion with the Infinite. Spirituality impels one to conquer difficulties and acquire more and more strength. To feel one’s faculties unfolding and truth expanding the soul is one of life’s sublimest experiences.”
Will it be easy? Maybe not. Will it be worth it? Absolutely. So come and join us. You’ll be glad you did. And so will we.