Monday, July 21, 2014

Dear Stranger at the Gym This Morning,

I don’t know your name, but I know you woke up probably somewhere around 4:30 this morning because by 5:00 you were stretching and warming up in the cardio loft.  I walked past you but didn’t necessarily smile or wave or greet you in any manner and started my own warm up on the cross trainer. 

And then at 5:05 you did something I would probably not have the guts to do.  You walked up to me and told me how great I looked, how hard I must have been working and that I looked just fantastic.  I’m sure I guffawed and looked around like you must be talking to someone else.  You weren’t.  You and I, we’re one of the very few crazy people up at that hour of the morning.  But there you were, with your bright smile and your sparkling eyes and all I could do was mumble a “thanks”. 

You went on your way to your own treadmill and I finished my warm up and went to my class.  And maybe you thought nothing more of it.  I guess I don’t know.  But I have thought of little else since.

You see, I am a stay-at-home Mom.  What this means for me is that I don’t really dress up or put a whole lot of effort into my appearance every single day.  I shower, comb my hair, slip on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt and start my day.  Makeup may or may not happen, depending on my mood and depending if there is any chance I’ll be seen by another adult human being.  My kids are kids and thus the compliments come in phrases like, “You make the best muffins, Mom,” or “I like your toenail polish,” or a goofy smile from a toddler.  The man who married me is probably the only person I see on a regular basis who compliments me on how I look, and bless his heart, that is a struggle for him to remember to do.  Please don’t misunderstand me, I love the compliments I get from my sweet little family – I am grateful for their kind words whenever they happen to be uttered.  But you, a complete stranger, went out of your way to talk to me and pay me a compliment this morning.  And my mind is just whirling.

It isn’t that I think I need them or deserve them.  I don’t.  It isn’t that I am incredibly vain and the reason I work out is so that other people will tell me how good I look.  That’s not me.  It isn’t that I have no friends who say nice things when they see me.  I do.  But for some reason, your words have altered the course of my week in a way I didn’t think was possible. 

On a day when I might otherwise be tempted to think that those awful 4:30 wakeup calls and hard mornings at the gym are not paying off, your words tell me otherwise.  All those little nasty whispers in my head telling me I’m overweight and unattractive are muted, hushed or drowned out altogether.  When I may have felt a little empty in the encouragement category, I hear your voice and see your smile and I feel totally renewed.

I’m not where I want to be, necessarily, but I am getting there.  And you have made me feel like I can take some encouragement and joy in the journey.  You found me when I am most definitely NOT an owner of the perfect body and still you made me feel beautiful. 

You taught me a powerful lesson this morning, dear girl.  You taught me that the power of kindness and goodness will always always be stronger than anything else.  In a world where we use our words to wound and to argue and to blame, you reminded me that it is in the small acts of love for other people that we will change the world.  If that isn’t Christ-in-action, I don’t know what is.

I’m sure you didn’t mean to “say” all that – but you did.  And I am so grateful, so inspired and so in awe of you and your goodness.  Such a simple simple thing to do (unless you’re a shy person like me) and such an impact you have made.

I hope and pray that I will best be able to repay you by following your example and treating others the way you treated me this morning. 

With every act of love, we bring the kingdom come.


Your Fellow Gym Rat

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