…I get paid doing what I love. That statement by no means implies that what I love to do is perfect; it just means that I believe that I am finally doing what God created me to do.
It seems that all my life I have been “working out.” In high school I ran track and loved anything sports related. I was almost offered an athletic scholarship to go to school. Almost because my mother said, “If my daughter can’t get into college academically, she’s not going on any athletic scholarship!”
My very first job was at a “figure salon.” That’s right, a figure salon! A gym with pink carpet and orange equipment that was exclusively for women. It was corny, but there was something that I really loved about connecting with the members while they were trying to get into shape. Although at times there was more connecting than exercising.
It was my first exposure to the industry of health and fitness, at the ripe old age of 17. I immediately started to buy into the hype that one had to look a certain way to be considered “healthy.” Unfortunately, the look was not healthy, just “skinny.” As a teenager with low self-esteem, I embraced it because I was already very skinny!! So, I fit in! I had found something that I was good at. I was good at being thin! That was it!
I lied on my application and said I was 18. I knew nothing. I was a recent high school graduate that was given an ultimatum by her parents to either go to college or go to work. I did not like school, so I chose work. So, to my parent’s dismay, in this pink and orange figure salon, I began my journey of fitness, no experience necessary.
That experience of “no experience” allowed me to see just how merciful and gracious God was in my life, even though I did not realize it back then.
I went on to pursue a career in health and fitness and was well on my way by the time I turned 19. It was then that I started to realize that I needed to get some type of education to continue in this path. The scary part was that the places where I worked didn’t care if I was educated or not. They just wanted me to sell gym memberships, and of course be thin!
I remember saying to myself that I needed to go to school because I was leading people astray. These members trusted me, and although I was the top sales person and aerobics instructor, I was letting them down every day.
But I hated school, or so I thought. I enrolled in my first college course. It was Nutrition and Health 101. I went in the evening with classmates who were mostly adults. It was not as much of a big deal as I thought it would be. I feared going to college because I did not think I was smart enough. I liked learning, but just did not know if I would be good at it. But God knew.
I finished the course, and to my surprise it was easy, I got an “A.” I decided that I needed to learn more. I became a non-traditional student, getting trained in anything that I needed, and every now and then, taking another traditional college course. I started to love learning and realized that I was good at it (by His grace).
Fast forward 40 years and it seems I’ve been in school alongside work for most of my adult life. That’s been my journey. God has blessed me with the grace to do both for most of my career.
He equipped me with everything I needed to do a job He called me to do. But, ultimately it had less to do with being “fit” and more to do with being saved!
He has taught me the true essence of what it really means to “work out;” In Paul’s letter to the Philippians he tells them to: “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Phil 2:12-13, NIV)
God has worked it in; I must work it out! This working out of my salvation is about my sanctification not justification. It’s not about being fearful of God, but having a reverence for Him, allowing Him to change me and mold me into the image of Jesus Christ. It’s a work from the inside and has nothing to do with how thin I am!
I realize now that when I work out my salvation, I am displaying what God has worked in; shining as a light in the dark places. If I am on display, that means people around me are watching. Paul goes on to explain what working out looks like; “Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life.” (Phil 2:14-16a, NIV) That word of life is the Gospel of Christ.
Although “working out” has been my life’s career, working out my salvation is my life’s purpose. I now know that it’s not just about what I look like on the outside. It’s not just about how physically active I am. Paul’s letter to Timothy helps me keep things in proper perspective; “for physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for this life and the life to come.” (1 Tim 4:8, NIV)
So, although I do get paid doing what I love, it is only because Jesus loves me and paid the ultimate sacrifice for my sins so that I may enjoy a right relationship with God.