This may be surprising to some of you who know me, but when I was a kid I never saw myself as ‘athletic’. I was extremely self-conscious, scared to death of sports and HATED being vulnerable more than anything! I grew up in a household that didn’t really watch or participate in sports or athletics and when I tried (or was forced) to participate it was almost always humiliating.
Taking that background into my junior high years of adolescence & compounding it with all the insecurities I had, like most girls that age, PE was my worst nightmare. I felt weak and
uncoordinated, and like everyone must be watching and giggling at me. I dreaded it so much I chose to take it in summer school so it was more likely I wouldn’t have to take it with my classmates.
Outside of PE, my school experience at that time was pretty terrible. I had befriended the wrong girls who turned on me, spread all kinds of nasty rumors and eventually had me begging my parents to switch me schools. I remember at least a few occasions of girls trying to pick fights with me, screaming in my face, tearing my backpack off and kicking it down the hall, calling out horrible names as I walked by and one time having a girl actually punch me in the face at a school dance in 7th grade. It was a terrifying time and led me I into a long season of depression. It was easily the most difficult time of my life.
Fast forward to my mid 20’s and with God's help, I had grown to be a fairly confident young woman blessed with a loving husband and family. With my 3 kiddos under 4 years old in toe, my friend and I were exploring avenues of mom escapes when she suggested going to the gym. This was NOT my first choice, but I agreed. On top of that she convinced me to participate in a ‘boot camp class’! I was absolutely terrified, but I agreed only if she joined me for a Holy Yoga class, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
The first time I took the boot camp class I went to the bathroom mid-class and cried. It brought up so many terrible memories and feelings of weakness and unworthiness. But the encouragement from my friend, the instructor, the inspirational Christian music and an odd feeling that I NEEDED to do this pulled me back in for a second class. That time I threw-up from pushing too hard, but I didn’t cry! Somehow I was gaining strength physically as well as emotionally. For the first time I was inspired to push ahead, letting go of my fears and anxieties.
By the third and fourth time I attended the class I had gained confidence I never knew I had. I had an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and fulfillment, and even though it was still physically challenging, for the first time in my life I felt capable. In addition to that, putting my eyes on Jesus, who HE said I was, loved and wonderfully made, I was oddly ok even if I didn’t perform as well as the others in the class. My perspective had changed. God led me to look to Him for approval, and away from needing to impress other people. I was pushing myself for my own benefit, competing with myself, and it was freeing.
As God would have it, after that I was led into a life of fitness I never would have imagined! I started teaching faith based yoga and Zumba classes allowing me to use my new found freedom to encourage and inspire others with taking their eyes off their insecurities and placing them on Jesus. But God had even more for me!
He now has me working alongside a personal trainer running our own faith-led
company and together developing a wholistic program that helps people embrace a healthy lifestyle, fueled by faith, while building strength and overcoming obstacles. I’m so thankful for the path God has led me down. I would not be the same person or look at the world the same way had I not experienced all I did. The good and the bad, made me who I am today, and I wouldn't chose to change it.