This morning in the gym, I attended a spin class. Despite attending spin classes for a while, it never seems to get any easier (gruelling but worth it). Anyhow, I was coming to the end of a particularly tough class with only 5 minutes to go of the 45-minute class. I had given the session everything I had and was now running out of steam. And so, I found myself slowing down. All of a sudden, I heard a voice shout out from behind me “only 34 miles per hour (mph)?”. It was NOT God by the way! Apparently, one of my fellow classmates behind me thought my efforts were not good enough. And so he felt the need to share it with no only me be those nearby.
Now, the old ‘Gladys’ would have tried to live up to this guys expectations. I would have told myself, “common girl, push yourself even harder!” and would have punishingly pushed myself to crazy limits despite the fact that I was now running on empty.
And so I was rather pleased with myself when I jokingly responded by saying, “mind your own business” – in a friendly manner of course. Rather than trying to attain something I knew I could not, I remained where I was, knowing that I had given it my best shot. By the way, where was my nosey friend when I was hitting 120 mph or when I was doing an average speed of 85-95 mph consistently? Where was he when I had previously covered over 19km in 45 minutes (a personal best for me who was an absolute novice when I first started the classes)? If only he knew where I started from, if only he knew my story, he might have rejoiced with me (as I suspect Jesus would have) and cheered me on.
The fact is I am not that guy or anyone else for that matter. He has not walked (or cycled) a mile in my shoes. He has not had my life experiences or faced the challenges I have had to along the way. He has no clue of my strengths or areas of development (aka weaknesses). He has no inkling of the energy one musters, at times, to face the race of life each day. And whilst he might be experiencing bursts of energy, climbing up the mountains of life, I might be coming down one after my time at the peak of the summit.
And so, this reinforces my personal and lifetime aspiration to just be ME. Rather than being driven by what the Jones are doing next door, I am remaining in tune with what Father has for me in this season of my life. Why? Because when I try to pander to others expectations, I might do well for a time but tends to be unsustainable. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not about being a slacker but being authentic and recognising the season I am in. And when I don’t, I slip out of “the unforced rhythms of grace” Jesus suggested (Matt11:28-31 MSG) and life becomes a hard chore. Moreover, I end up with emotional baggage (e.g. negative emotions) which then harms me spiritually, physically and mentally.
So if you want to live baggage free, forget the expectations of others. Instead, let your inner voice (God) lead you. After all, He knows when you need to speed up or slow down. I call Him the best coach ever. Try Him if you have not already got Him by your side.
Ps: Oh, I forgot to mention that the nosey guy in my class was actually an off duty gym instructor/personal trainer with years of experience!!! Could I ever live up to his standards or abilities? Probably not as he lives in the gym 🙂 Hence my decision to follow my inner voice.