As I lay in bed, repeatedly slapping the snooze button on my alarm, I felt guilty. The alarm was telling me “Time to get up and exercise” and I was telling the alarm “I have a different priority this morning…sleep.” The guilt came from the fact that this was probably the 4th or 5th day in a row where I deprioritized my morning exercise routine for no real reason other than that I didn’t feel like doing it. It’s a fantastic show of self-love to cut yourself a break when you need one, to listen to your body and know not to push yourself, but I will fully admit that lately I’ve just been lazy. I want to look good and feel good, but I don’t want to put in the work.
Lying in bed, knowing that I should get up and choosing to ignore that inner voice, I recognized that my commitment is what allows me the ability to say I am in relatively good shape (there’s ALWAYS room for improvement). If I the commitment, I’ll quickly lose all the benefits I’ve worked so hard to enjoy. The sad statistic is that it takes us at least 6 weeks of dedicated effort to see positive effects from exercise and only two weeks for those effects to decline. Unfortunately, mulling this over didn’t motivate me to get up and get moving; however, it did lead me to ponder other areas of life that require routine and dedicated work. I couldn’t help but think about faith.
I’ve had the phrase “you’re a good Catholic” said to me a few times over the years, usually in response to making Mass on a Holy Day of Obligation after a long day at work or teaching religious education between cantoring the 8am Mass and singing with the choir at the 11am Mass. It’s supposed to be a compliment and I take it as such, but I sometimes want to say as a reminder “We can all be good Catholics.”
The amount of our goodness is directly proportional to the amount of time, effort and energy we invest in our beliefs. If I am a good Catholic (and there are days I feel a long way away from every giving myself that label), it is only because I prioritize Mass, feast days, prayer and devotion over other choices within my life. It is not because I am chosen or somehow specially selected. It is not because I am perfect and sinless. I am far from it and working daily to be a better version of myself. We all have the opportunity to be good when we make the choices that align with what our faith teaches, just as we all have the opportunity to be in better shape when we elect to prioritize exercise and wellness.
We long to be in control in a world where so much feels beyond our grasp. There’s actually a lot more we can control than we might at first admit. We can never control God, but the amount of control we have over our relationship and our commitment to Him is quite powerful.
While I didn’t manage to get up and grab my weights that morning, I certainly felt the motivation kick back in the next morning when my alarm went off. I dragged myself down to the basement for my planned 30 minutes and when it was all over, I felt proud.
In life, outcome is proportional to effort. I can work harder. I can be better. Especially when it comes to my faith.