Friday, September 2, 2022

Only Jesus Satisfies

After lifting regularly (3 times a week) for about 8 months now, I've come to realize a very important truth about strength training. The fact is that you are never going to be genuinely satisfied with your progress. 

As a newbie, I've already put on around 50 percent of the muscle mass I will ever put on in my entire life. I have, at best, average genetics, and the reality is that unless you have upper tier genetics, you're probably not going to achieve the kind of physique you want. Just like I will never become an elite runner (or even an average one), I will never have an elite physique because I don't have the genetic capacity for it. I actually find this a very liberating truth because it frees me from the disappointment that comes from unrealistic expectations. This means that, although I will probably never be genuinely satisfied with my gains, it's fine. What I need to do is learn how to live in harmony with this truth rather than think that one day I will have arrived and be fully satisfied with everything. 

I will also say that getting yourself in shape is never going to make you happy even though it can definitely improve your quality of life and make you feel good. The person who says they don't care about how they look or feel is lying. That said, attaining a certain level of fitness always promises more than it can deliver. The same applies to making a lot of money or acquiring a bunch of possessions. None of these external things is meant to put us in some kind of permanent happy state. Internal contentment comes from less showy things like having a purpose in life, assuming responsibility for your actions, meaningful relationships, being kind to others, and contributing to the good of society. The one thing that overlaps with all these things, and the one thing that means the most to you if you are a Christian, is living to the glory and praise of God. That will contribute more to your personal happiness than body building or any other pursuit we have in life. Yes, I enjoy weight training and get a certain amount of joy from it, but I don't expect it to make my happy on some fundamental level if those other key areas of my life aren't in order. 

Let me close with a wonderful quote by the one and only Malcolm Muggeridge. I think he says it perfectly:

I may, I suppose, regard myself, or pass for being, a relatively successful man. People occasionally stare at me in the streets -- that's fame. I can fairly easily earn enough to qualify for admission to the higher slopes of the Internal Revenue -- that's success. Furnished with money and a little fame even the elderly, if they care to, may partake of trendy diversions -- that's pleasure. It might happen once in a while that something I said or wrote was sufficiently heeded for me to persuade myself that it represented a serious impact on our time -- that's fulfillment. Yet I say to you -- and I beg you to believe me -- multiply these tiny triumphs by a million, add them all together, and they are nothing -- less than nothing, a positive impediment -- measured against one draught of that living water Christ offers to the spiritually thirsty, irrespective of who are what they are.