Paying Attention

by Susan Rigby

May 1, 2019

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I’m a little slow on the up-take. Sometimes, a day after a conversation, I think, “Wait a second, what did she say?” Then I realize I should have asked a question or clarified what was being said.

I think not paying attention goes way back in my 72 years. Instead, I’ve heard messages about myself—false narratives—that shaped what I believed.

For instance, two years ago, a friend invited me to work out at a little independent gym. Lots of people join gyms and work out for their wellbeing and health. They look great, stand up straight, pick up heavy objects with one hand . . . however, I’m not one of them. I’ve joined gyms and paid my dues monthly, but I would go a half-dozen times, wonder what all those machines do, give it the old college try and then not go the rest of the year—literally.

So, I went just one time to that little gym, and I decided: I’m going to go again. No big commitment, just one appointment at a time.

My trainer’s name is Shaun. He would say, “Susan, now just jump up on this box.” What? Jump up on a box? I can’t jump, much less jump up on a box. It’s not going to be a pretty picture when I miss and fall flat on my face. Then Shaun would say, “Just try, Susan. I’ll catch you if you fall.”

I’d think, “He’s nuts. I haven’t jumped an inch in thirty years. I can’t even remember the last time I jumped.”

And it kept happening. He’d say, “Susan, just bend your knees, tighten your glutes, pick up this 75-pound weight, lift it to your chest and then . . . do 10 squats.” He might as well have told me to run a marathon right then. Or he’d say, “Susan. Hang from this bar that is three feet off the ground and just pull yourself up as far as you can. Just try.”

And actually, when I tried and tried and tried—I was totally surprised that I could kinda do what he was saying. I couldn’t believe it.

However, each time he told me something new to do, my response was, “What? I can’t do that, Shaun, I’m 72 years old. I can’t do that.” And he would say, “Just try. Just try.”

Then one day he added, “Susan, stop it! God made your body to jump and lift and run and bend and reach. He made your body to do all those things and more. You’ve just ignored it for so long, that you really believe you can’t.”

And that day I learned a much deeper truth: I have believed the false narrative that I am too old to do normal things I was made to do.

But the gym is just one place in my life I’ve believed a lie.

Is that true for you as well? Have you believed the false narratives you’ve been told by another or by yourself? Maybe it’s time to pay attention to those messages and either accept the ones that challenge you or kick them to the moon!

Because . . . it’s all about who your trainer is. Or maybe Who your “Trainer” is. It may be a friend, a spouse, or a therapist. But it’s definitely a work of the Holy Spirit, ‘training’ you through them, coaching you well, cheering you on. “He who began a good work in you will continue to perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6)

And now I’m off to the gym . . .

Susan served on our church staff as the first woman high school lead, and was on the staff of Hollywood Presbyterian church for ?? years. She and her daughter Maryanne enjoy opening their home on Saturday mornings to those looking for a quiet spot and a delicious Virginia breakfast.

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