Why I’m Confident God’s at the Gym

After untangling the cord, I place one white earbud in each ear. A first generation iPod Nano loaded with thousands of songs goes in my right hand, an iPhone in my left. I push playlist, then Amy’s workout, searching for the song that matches my mood. Sometimes the day dictates secular, sometimes worship, sometimes a mix of both.

I turn up the music, loud. I can’t hear anything else. The world as I know it is drowned out. I thank God and know this will be good. It’s always good. Because somehow, that drowning out of the world through exercise and music is a filter. It helps me feel and see life more clearly than ever before.

I begin. I let my body take the lead. I walk and run as I feel moved. I’ll worry about the numbers again someday, but for now, I go with the flow. Most days, my body knows what it needs. Just minutes in, I can tell it’s going to be a mostly walking day or a mostly running day. And so goes for the music – secular, worship, or mix. Intuitively, I know what I need.

But whether I’m walking or running, listening to secular music, worship music, or both, one thing remains true. My desire is to see as God sees. I open my eyes, prepare my heart, and listen.

A man with a cane makes laps. He walks with a limp, but he’s as steady and as strong as he can be. As I pass not once, but twice, three times and more, I envision a day when he’ll throw his cane and run free.

It’s a school day and mom has two kids in tow. She teaches them down dogs, they exercise their hamstrings with big balls and shoot hoops on the court. She has no qualms that she’s the only mom with school-aged kids at the gym on a Monday at 9:30 a.m. She’s in her element, that’s clear. Living your dream, living your purpose always feels right, even when it’s out of the ordinary.

Sarah, an employee with disabilities, makes her way down the stairs. An elderly woman stops Sarah half way down and helps her tie her shoes.

Most days, a petite woman with a blonde pony tail spends her time with a personal trainer. She’s strong, she’s a fighter, an encourager to those around her. Her body language says – I’m fighting, I refuse to give up, I will give it my all.

And then there’s the elderly couple. They’re bent over together as they walk the track. It’s phenomenal, a once in a lifetime testimony I wish everyone could see. They’re not just bent over, they’re bent over to the same degree, walking side by side at the same pace. If you look at them from across the track it’s as if they’re one. Others can’t help but notice. Some engage, others smile quietly to themselves as the elderly couple passes. I’m dying to know their story, but I’ve been afraid to ask.

The ladies training below look like robots. They cross the gym the same way every time. One leg up, one leg down, all the way across and back again. Their personalities are completely lost in the robotic movement. They don’t fight, they don’t resist, they just keep moving on.

The man with Down Syndrome stacks the steps. Slowly, but surely, puts each one in place. They’re squared, stacked at the same height. It’s a quiet area. He does his work without complaining, at his own pace. It’s a hidden beauty I can’t help but wonder if anyone sees too.

That woman on the treadmill, she gets me every time. She runs like the wind, throws punches in the air, fire is deep in her bones. She’s strong, fierce. I’m convinced she’s overcome, convinced there’s worship music blasting loud in her earbuds.

The old guys, they’re wearing jeans, leather belts and boat shoes. They walk in groups, at their own pace. They don’t give a damn about how fast or slow anyone else is going. They do it their way. There’s community with those guys. They’ve seen it all, done it all. They’ve paid their dues. They show up day after day, and I love them for it.

He looks over as I pass, attempts to engage in conversation with questions and comments. “You work at the grocery store? You look just like a cashier there.” “It’s been a week and a half since hunting and nobody’s shot themselves.” I remove my earbuds with just enough time to listen and respond – “That’s a good thing, right?!” Some might call him a little creepy. I think he’s quirky, sweet, well intentioned.

Moms wait in hoards for the prime time group fitness classes. They’re dressed in Lululemon, Athleta, Under Armour. There’s pressure to be thin, really thin – fit, really fit – your best, perfect. I spent five years in those rooms. I understand the pressure, I know how it feels. I know the need, the drive, the longing, the striving to be good, better, best, perfect. It’s too much for me these days. I can’t keep up. I take my own path now, but I get it. Believe me, I get it.

She’s thin, sickly thin. Her hair is sparse, thin too. Skin covers her bones, there’s nothing between. The thickest part of her upper thigh is barely bigger than my arm. I wonder what she’s battled, the demons she’s faced, the wars she’s waged. She’s not just thin, she’s hollowed out.

ONE obese man frequents the treadmill on the far side of the gym where the man with Down Syndrome stacks steps. It’s quiet there. Perhaps he thinks nobody will notice him. One day he’s absent. I notice an obese woman hop on the elliptical just two down from the treadmill the obese man uses. Goose bumps run up and down my body. She’s the only obese woman I’ve seen at the gym, he’s the only obese man I’ve seen at the gym. Both choose the same safe hiding place. Slow and steady, they won’t give up. This battle is theirs and they’re here to fight.

I pass her on the track. She’s short and she’s hiding. Her hands are in her pocket and her head is down, way down. Her plight, unknown, but she’s here to walk through it, work through it.

As I sit to stretch, a little girl comes running around the track wild and free. Mom follows close behind. Both with big smiles.

The baby says “hi” and “five” as we prepare to leave. She knows, our buddy’s up ahead. He’s there, every day, washing windows. He has Down Syndrome, but that doesn’t keep him from making a difference. She grabs my hand, wants me to give high five first. All three of us smile at each other, I tell her “It’s your turn, give your buddy high five!” She inches slowly but surely to her buddy, gives him high five. He smiles and waves bye. And as we walk away, I turn to look back and I’m blessed with the greatest gift of all, a gift that can’t be replicated or done justice with mere words. There he is, kneeling down behind the window. He’s looking out at my baby, beaming, bursting full of joy, watching her walk away. She brought him joy as much as he brought us joy.

Yes, thank you God, is the only appropriate response.

It’s all in His hands.

All this, just a glimpse of the way God sees. His love language is music. It’s loud and His song is always right – for you. He knows your heart, He knows your tribulations and your triumphs, and He loves all of us the same. He’s with you every step of the way. His heart is beating fast – for me, for you, for them.


When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.  Proverbs 4:12

  1. Amy.I love your posts. I love reading them, because you are helping ME open MY eyes to things around me, and I thank you!
    As one working mom to another, one who loves the “underdog stories” (me), I thank you.
    You inspire ME to want to write like you do.
    So far, I’m back at it in brief spurts, and I rarely do the type that you do, but I want to again someday. I need to give myself permission to do that.


    • Amy says:

      Thank you so much, Carrie, for taking time to share these kind words with me. One of the many goals for the blog that I have is to help people see in a new light. I needed and need to see in this new light as well, so it’s as much of a journey for me as it is you. I just checked out your blog for the first time. Love your sweet stories about your kiddos. 🙂 The Disney pics were so cute. Awesome you got pics with some of the characters! And by the way, give yourself permission to write in whatever way you need, whenever you need. For the most part, I’ve settled on my writing style…it’s fairly serious with deep undertones, I write the way I see the world. I’d love to be more fun, simple, everyday, but it’s just not my natural style. Be who you are and that will be most fulfilling to you. Thanks again, Carrie, for leaving the note. Blessings to you!

  2. Nicole Marie Newfield says:

    So beautiful- love your stories!

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