LIFE MATTERS

Press through the tough start

By Gerry Lewis | Published Saturday, September 8, 2018

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It mocks me from the corner of the back porch where it has loitered menacingly for more than five years.

I can’t get to my yard or my workshop without going past it.

“Loser,” it whispers.

“You wish,” I reply.

“You wish.”

“You have a point there,” I admit as I approach.

“It’s about time!”

Who in their right mind has a conversation with an ancient exercise bicycle?

So here I am again, determined to be more proactive about my health. Whether it is the old exercise bike on my back porch, the cool new programmable ones with video screens at the gym I infrequently visit or the exercise machines of the various hotels I’ve stayed at during my recent travels, one thing remains the same. Once I’ve finally relented and mounted the contraption, the first 10 minutes are the hardest.

It seems like every part of my body, especially my knees and lungs, are screaming at me.

“Noooooo! There’s no way I can do this for 30 minutes! Let’s just go for 10 and call it good!”

I actually thought of this life principle while I was on the exercise bike a few days ago. It’s not just true of exercise, but of anything in life that requires intense effort and focus.

Once we bite the bullet and actually start, the first 10 minutes are the hardest.

For about a minute, I’m feeling good about the choice I made to actually do this today. Then the body that has been at rest starts to feel the stress and I start making deals with myself. I know I set a goal of the recommended 30 minutes, but couldn’t I get a little benefit from just 10 minutes?

But something happens around the 10-minute mark.

My body has sufficiently warmed up and settled into a rhythm. I feel like I’ve got a few more minutes in me, so I can keep going a little longer. Maybe I can make it to 20.

At the 20-minute mark, I’m feeling tired and realizing that I don’t have much left, but the knowledge that I only have 10 minutes left becomes a new motivation. I can do this.

At 28 minutes, I start imagining the finish line. Only 120 pushes of the pedals left! I count them down. My body is protesting every push, but the draw of the finish line is too strong. I push all the way through and then collapse, completely spent but strangely invigorated.

Ten minutes is not a precise number. It’s symbolic of the period right after we start something worthwhile. Something that author Steven Pressfield calls “the resistance” starts to kick in and we have to choose to give in or press through it.

It reminds me of Hebrews 12:1-3.

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Our lives mattered so much to Jesus that He pressed through the first 10 minutes for us.

Don’t lose heart. Don’t give up. Don’t settle. Be amazing.

Dr. Gerry Lewis, author, blogger, church consultant and leadership coach, serves as executive director of the Harvest Baptist Association in Decatur.

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