heart_rate_monitor

He Teaches My Heart To Recover

In 2007 I lived in Dallas, had a really great (and great-paying) job and for the first time in my life got a personal trainer.  It was a great experience and over the course of about 7 months of rigorous, targeted training and focused nutrition, I dropped about 55 lbs and felt incredible. (more on all that in a future post)  I don’t think I had ever been more focused or dedicated on achieving something in my life.  I worked my butt off (literally) and learned a valuable spiritual lesson in the process.

When I first started working out with Sean (my trainer), there were quite a few pretty difficult, turbulent and down-right “what the @#&% are you doing to me!?!” moments.  I had a gym membership that I used every so often, but didn’t really have any focus, direction or general clue how to go about targeting my efforts to achieve specific results.  Sean helped me change all that.

Early on in our sessions, he would have me doing some CRAZY cardio exercises that made me want to thrash him with a resistance band.  It wasn’t just cardio.  It was cardio on crack.  He would have me do some crazy aggressive exercise, getting my heart rate up in thirty second to one minute increments, then stop, rest for 30 seconds to one minute, then do it again, and again and again and again.   I remember the first time we did this, my body was rebelling and I asked him what this was supposed to accomplish.  Actually, I’m sure it didn’t sound nearly that eloquent.  It was probably more like, “WHAT… *GASP GASP GASP*… ARE… *GASP WHEEZE GASP WHEEZE*… YOU… *WHEEZE WHEEZE*… DOING… *GASP GASP DRY HEAVE*… TO ME?!?!?”

I will never forget what he told me next.

“I’m teaching your heart to recover,” he said.

He explained this would “shock” my heart: spike my heart rate and stop just as my heart rate peaked, allow it to return to a good resting zone, then return to the violent cardio aggression.  The purpose of this was to allow my heart to build up an endurance to the cardio assault, enable it to recover quicker and empower it to operate more efficiently and get ready for the next round.  Sean knew my body weight, the limits of where he could push my heart rate and when to stop me to recover and repeat the process again.

Early on, it took a long time for my heart rate to recover to a good resting zone.  However, as the weeks and months went by, the cardio segments got longer and the rest periods got shorter as my heart gradually began to recover quicker and quicker.

I have never forgotten that.

Looking back over the past several years of my life, and particularly the past year, I can see a distinct pattern.   I’ve experienced cycles of the “spiking” heart rate of uncertainty and transition followed by resting periods of peace and stability.  My life has been marked by the hand of God, the”great trainer”, who has always known exactly when to stop the action just before my heart peaked, and allowed me just enough time to recover, only to start again.  From where I stand at this very moment of my life, I have absolutely no idea what is next or even what the next 24 hours will hold for me.  However, the last few weeks and months have shown me that with each season that my heart has been “shocked”, I find myself bouncing back and recovering quicker than before. On several levels, my heart should be pounding right now, but it’s not.

I had one such instance a couple days ago when my heart was tested, and my reaction taught me a lot about what this journey I’ve been on.  The more my heart learns to anchor its hope and identity exclusively in the cross, the quicker it recovers and keeps moving, ready for the next spike.  The more I have learned to trust the trainer to teach my heart to recover, the more I see the results in how my heart responds to the spikes.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall notwant.  He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.

In Psalm 23, David said of the Lord, “He restores my soul.”  The Message translation says “you let me catch my breath.”

I know what he means.

It’s not Psalm 23, but scribbled somewhere on the pages of my life are the words:

“I will bless the Lord, my trainer. He teaches my heart to recover.”


What practical life lessons have you learned that you’ve been able to apply to your faith life?


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Grant JenkinsHe Teaches My Heart To Recover
27 comments
@taylor_ray82
@taylor_ray82

I can definitely relate to many different part of this, the 1st being that over the past 3 years my heart has been shocked so many times its gone numb and back again to feeling. I'm almost scared to death of what God is testing it for from all its *I've* endured.
2nd, I sorta get the gym idea where you're going without any purpose and schedule until you met the Trainer. That's my life right now. I've got no direction or purpose most days which usually causes me heart to start feeling shockwaves all the time.

Karina
Karina

"I had one such instance a couple days ago when my heart was tested, and my reaction taught me a lot about what this journey I’ve been on. The more my heart learns to anchor its hope and identity exclusively in the cross, the quicker it recovers and keeps moving, ready for the next spike. The more I have learned to trust the trainer to teach my heart to recover, the more I see the results in how my heart responds to the spikes."

LOVE this.

Went through something this week that was an invitation to an 'old familiar dance'. I chose not to join in and that felt pretty good, BUT the best part was realizing what little effect it had on me. I remember the way i which it would have in the past. I can see how different things are. My heart IS recovering. God is so good.

Since then I have been trying to put it all into words, and here you have put it perfectly.
Thank you. God bless you.
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Beth Coulton
Beth Coulton

I am at a point like that right now in my spiritual journey. My daughter has spent two years of her college career trying to gain entrance into a program that just recently almost bolted the door shut on her...there is still a small sliver of light coming in from under the door but if the bolt gets thrown completely, we have no idea what's next for her. Her dreams will be crushed and we'll need redirecting and guidance. I should, for all intents and purposes, be panicking right now, but immediately after it happened, I just thought, "God, you gotta take it from here. I'm out of ideas". Which is exactly where He wants me to be. Thanks for the great post!
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Chelsea
Chelsea

I must say when I started reading your post I laughed a little about the training sessions. I too worked with a trainer a few years back. I lost about 70 pounds. When I first started I thought my heart would explode with the random activities like mountain climbers and jump rope activities. I too many times said the same thing to my trainer. I hated how much I was pushed but somehow I lived through it. It's amazing how much you can handle as a person. I love the analogy you portrayed in this post. Great post!

JasonWert
JasonWert

People really need to read your excellent writings. Seriously. You're so good it makes me want to just point my domain here! :)
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Makeda
Makeda

I love the title of this post; it is a great post. I love how you connected what the trainer did you to the journey God has you on right now. He knows best even when it doesn't feel like. Thanks for sharing.

His Girl
His Girl

Just read your story and now this post and I can definitely say I am in the cardio phase and looking forward to catching my breath but knowing this is for my good and God's glory. Thank you for these timely reminders.God must have known I needed to read them.
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Rachel Wojnarowski
Rachel Wojnarowski

Never had a personal physical trainer, but have experienced plenty of spiritual training! Great post!

dwongken
dwongken

great post Grant. Inspiring for chubby guys who have the extra weight to drop - spiritually and physically. Thanks.

dwk

jennyrain
jennyrain

i never realized that is how personal trainers helped us become more fit... very cool. looking back on the last 10 years... things that scared the mess out of me even 5 years ago aren't even a blip on the radar screen now because I've seen God work through them.

cool post.
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ineffablegod
ineffablegod

dude great post! I lost about 35 pounds since my freshman year of college--it definitely was needed lol! I think for me--it's running. I hate it, and frankly, I'm pretty terrible at it--but there's just something about the "don't give up mentality" that comes in when I start to run. Every time I want to stop--I force myself to keep going, and to go a little farther every time. I believe that's how my walk in Christ has been--there are moments where I want to call quits, but God pushes me along, and daily shows me that He has my back. And, like the high you get after you accomplish a great run, is the same driving force that keeps me going because I know the end result is going to be awesome!

I'm reminded of 2Cor4:17:
"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all"

aboynamedtracy
aboynamedtracy

There are several times that I'm sure I said “WHAT… *GASP GASP GASP*… ARE… *GASP WHEEZE GASP WHEEZE*… YOU… *WHEEZE WHEEZE*… DOING… *GASP GASP DRY HEAVE*… TO ME?!?!?” To the Creator (maybe without the dry heave...or maybe not).

I'm right there with you on this though. I often look back on my weight loss and almost feel guilty because I dedicated myself to getting fit. I was disciplined and committed. But when I look at the rest of my life, especially my desire to be more Christ-like, I am completely lazy. It drives me nuts!
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Nick Maestas
Nick Maestas

what a great blog. i've been trying to work out and drop some weight but i find a reason to get away from the gym. as weird as it sounds-i feel closest to God when i'm working out....when i have a goal and try to reach it...i rely on Him and even though it's just a few minutes in prayer-it's more than I'd spend on a normal day. then i just get more thirsty for Him (and for a bunch of water because i sweat more than a water buffalo) so I really get what you're saying here. great read my friend!
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