“I AM DONE WITH THIS!” I scream it over and over, part hysterically crying, part hyperventilating, the oxygen fighting to enter my body. “I am done. I am done. I am. DONE.” Who am I talking to, on the drive back to campus to charge my now-dead phone? What am I talking about?
Is it the ever present shadow of bride to be workouts, the ticker of the treadmill and the stairmaster, the well meaning tight lipped smiles of the people in the gym all out to prove we love our bodies, love ourselves, have the balance, have the motivation, the stamina?
And the way that I tell myself that 382 calories is insufficient for an afternoon, add up the numbers, spend them again and again, streams of numbers divided and earned, calculated on the drive from Starbucks to work and home again, and so I climb stairs for an extra ten minutes because you must, you must, be above 400 every time. You must or else what is the point and do you know what will happen, the wild collapse?
“I am done with this” – with what?
With the endless looping ribbons of thought about whether it is worth writing a blog post about something as small as climbing stairs at the gym on a Wednesday, that who needs or wants to read such a thing, with the frustration that even when I start to write it I want to tell it better, that there is some other voice asking if this is the right word choice, if I would get more traffic by using some other words, if I got to the Jesus part of this quicker then I would be a better blogger, a better writer, a better Hilary.
With the frustration that there is no clean telling of a story that I live in my skin and bones with oxygen that still fights to enter my body and leave it, the most common of journeys, the most transforming of journeys. With how much I have paused and deleted and revisited, thinking I will find a new ending if I hit “save” enough times.
There is a Jesus part to this. There is a part about God. But I can’t run there because when I run there I get pushed back into the hurricane. We have arenas of salvation, arenas of sanctification, Julie told me once. This is mine: that I am not allowed to run from the fact that I struggle, wonder, worry, count and obsess and overplan how to keep my body in the form I have chosen as right enough (but always, the enough, because there must be room for improvement, there must be more zumba classes and more pilates and more of everything else that might make me better). This is the arena of sanctification, me and God in the ring, wrestling as much with each other as with the bystanders, the voices offering those classes and the quick fixes.
Didn’t Jacob call the place Peniel, where he encountered God and yet his life was delivered? And wasn’t it there a striving with God? And wasn’t there the fierceness of blessing, the ache for it, every muscle overworked with the longing?
And I build a place of remembrance between my dashboard and my heart, a remembering that somehow my life is preserved. That’s the Jesus part to this story. That when I drive away from the overcounting and the oxygen fights with my body for permission to breathe again is that this whole post is a wrestling. This whole story is a wrestling.
A day after I scream there is a cancelled appointment, an idea in my head that I’ll go to an extra class, fit in one more day at the gym, an email to my father to ask if he can bring the gym bag I left behind with him, and not five minutes later his head pokes around the door to say he is already here, he can’t go back for it.
Who will say this is not all a wrestling?
Nor this writing my own place of remembering that my life is being delivered?