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Inspired by Saint Paul's First Letter to Timothy, Karen Estep ponders how to become a spiritual athlete.  

"Athlete" is not a word that has ever been used to describe me. I played volleyball for a few years in middle school but quickly figured out that I wouldn’t make the cut in high school. Due to my height, 5’ 10”, I am asked frequently if I play/ed basketball … I do/did not. I even have a running joke that if you see me running somewhere, you should be running faster because something or someone is chasing me.  

However, when I became engaged to my husband, I knew I wanted to look my best on my wedding day. That meant I needed to work out, just a bit. My husband was already pretty involved in CrossFit at the time, so I decided to join him 2 days a week while doing cardio on my “off” days.  

I soon developed a love/hate relationship with CrossFit. I loved the strength I was gaining but hated when the workout of the day called for burpees. I loved tossing tires, albeit small ones, and I especially loved it when the workout was done. I was excited to see the changes to my body and how I would look in my wedding dress!  




And on my wedding day, I looked good! My dress had to be taken in by four inches. While I wasn’t going to be a bodybuilder by any standard, you could see the muscles in my arm. I can truly say I worked hard to look good for my groom on our big day.  

Something that I have been thinking about a lot lately, probably because I have heard this phrase everywhere, is being the bride of Christ. As I was rolling that term around in my thoughts one day, I asked myself, “Am I preparing to look the best I can for Christ when I meet Him on our big day? How am I gaining my spiritual muscles?”  

Train yourself for devotion, for while physical training is of limited value, devotion is valuable in every respect, since it holds a promise of life both for the present and for the future. (1 Timothy 4:7b-8)  


How do we become spiritual athletes? How do we prepare ourselves to look our best for the Bridegroom? 

I think the best way is to make sure our relationship has solid roots. Just as in my relationship with my husband, there are days that I am just going through the motions with my relationship with Christ. I pray multiple times a day because it is a habit, and some days that is all I can offer. However, Christ knows and He can fill in the gaps.

Without that solid foundation of creating a habit of at least talking with Christ daily, I don’t think I would want to continue my relationship because there are times I tend to wander away from Christ. There are also days that I am so in love with Christ that He is all I can talk about! The main takeaway is to get a solid foundation so the days that you’re just going through the motions are fewer and farther between.  




Reading His Word is another way to further your relationship with Christ. I think sometimes Christians can just see the Bible as a guidebook for everyone, which it is. However, it is also a giant book of love notes written just for you! Yes, Christ seeks us in community, but He also seeks us as individuals too. I encourage you to take the time to read God’s love notes to you daily. If you subscribe to Catholic Mom, you can receive the daily Mass readings plus a reflection and a prayer. I read these every morning while eating breakfast and drinking my large cup of coffee. I love doing this daily and falling more in love with God’s words for me.  


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Am I preparing to look the best I can for Christ when I meet Him? How am I gaining my spiritual muscles? #CatholicMom


I will probably never consider myself an athlete in the physical sense. The idea of being a spiritual athlete is growing on me though. I know there will be times that my “workout of the day” will include a spiritual burpee and I will probably whine at the thought of completing it. However, just as the desire to look good for my husband on our wedding day was my motivation for doing CrossFit, my motivation for being the bride of Christ and looking good for Him is all I need to continue my journey in becoming a spiritual athlete.  



Copyright 2024 Karen Estep
Images: Canva