Thursday, June 20, 2013

No Sweat

“Do you not know that your body 
is a temple of the Holy Spirit,
who is in you, whom you have received from God? 
You are not your own;
you were bought at a price. 
Therefore honor God with your body."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

This is NOT me.

     Our bodies are a temple. We should treat them with respect; keep them healthy. Eat foods that aren't smothered in chocolate, drenched in fat, or covered with salt. And most importantly, ex. . . exer. . . I find it hard to say—and even harder to do. Exercise.
     I'll walk. I'll do sit-ups with the best of them. If it weren't for one thing.
     I know a sure-fire way to make a million bucks. Find a way to exercise and not sweat. No matter what you call it—sweat, perspiration, or that salty glow you get when your lungs are burning—it's annoying. It stings your eyes, melts your make-up, and leaves telltale half moons under your arms. It's . . . the pits.

This is also not me.

      I realize a sweaty brow is a trophy of sorts. It is proof (if accompanied by the appropriate ball, racket, or aerobic attire) that you are keeping the inner workings of your body healthy by achieving a certain measure of fitness. Exactly what measure can be determined by your posture. If you are in a prone position resembling a dead gingerbread man, your fitness quotient is low. If you are jogging in place with enough breath left in your lungs to recite the Declaration of Independence, I don't want to speak to you. Ever.     Some weekend warriors (like me) don't need a Boston marathon to break into a respectable sweat. Sorting seventeen white socks from the dryer, finding a parking place at the mall, or turning the channels manually on the TV when the remote gives out, can all create a respectable glow. When I attempt some real exercise like walking, tennis, or a game of H-O-R-S-E, my body calls out the National Guard. This is not a drill.

      There have been obvious improvements in the sweat department in the last hundred years. Before the advent of deodorant, daily showers, and washers that use electricity instead of the nearest rock, the aroma of mankind was an accepted part of everyday life. But considering lice, outdoor privies, and dirt floors were also de rigueur, it wasn't a point to brag about. The potpourri many of us have sitting in a pretty dish to freshen a room used to be a part of standard attire in the form of a pomander hanging from one's belt to cover up the aroma of one's toils. People died young, not from disease, but because their noses gave out. At least that’s my theory.

      Now we live in a perfumed society. There is no excuse for not smelling like roses, a newborn baby, musk, or a sea breeze. Personally, I don’t like smelling like food: no peaches, lemon, or vanilla for me. I think about food enough without smelling like it.
      Sweat discriminates. Baseball players, tennis stars, and figure skaters look great bathed in sweat. I, however, look wilted—my face gets red, my hair hangs like cold spaghetti, and my clothes stick to me in all the wrong places. Perhaps it has something to do with our respective earning capacities.
      I realize sweat has a purpose (as do rice cakes and Richard Simmons—or so they say) but certainly someone can design a pill that will cool our bodies without making them sticky and uncomfortable. Dogs pant. Humans . . . ?
      Let’s cut to the chase: Jesus said that “all things are possible with God” (Mark 10: 27). Therefore, I challenge mankind to find a way to stay slim, be trim, and worship Him while keeping our temples perspiration free.
     "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24)
      Hmm. What if we tackled a healthy diet and exercise not for ourselves, but “as working for the Lord”?
      Could we learn to view sweat as a virtue?

     I’ll add that to my list of questions to ask God when I’m spending eternity with Him. Surely in heaven I’ll be able to eat Big Macs and not do tummy crunches. Or . . . maybe in His presence, I’ll have other things on my mind.
     Maybe I need to tap into those “other things” right now, quit obsessing about my weight, put Him first, and let the food and exercise handle themselves. How about the “He First” diet? “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6: 33-34) Trouble I make for myself?
     Perhaps this is the key: honor God with your body, work as if working for the Lord, seek Him, and don’t worry.
     No sweat.
     I feel better already.