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Lara Patangan considers why the comparison game doesn't work—not at the gym, and not in our faith lives.

I was at the gym with my girlfriend walking the track, where our biggest challenge was trying to decide if we should walk clockwise or counterclockwise. Believe it or not, there are gym rules for the directionless—which change depending on the day of the week. Because of the mental challenge involved, we consider that to be part of our workout and just stick to walking in circles, going nowhere. Now whether that is a metaphor for other parts of our lives will not be addressed today.

While we were walking, I noticed this woman whooshing back in forth on a rowing machine like she was on a quest to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Her movements were fluid and you could see the ripple of muscles in her back swell like the roll of well-formed waves. And, I momentarily thought maybe I should be doing something more than walking in circles. After all, my muscles, assuming I have any, are so flat that they would only inspire a lazy float in a motionless lake. There’s no undulating muscle movement in my circular rotation.

She looked like someone who walked straight out of the pages of one of those fitness catalogs that I always toss in my recycle bin after contemplating how much people are willing to pay for spandex. She even had a cute haircut. After my friend and I watched her doing some Cirque du Soleil move that managed to be both herculean and graceful, we settled on keeping our bodies in as-is condition and maybe just copying her haircut.

The truth is, as much as I admire this woman’s perceived poise and perfection, I know I’m not willing to put the effort into achieving her physique. And, while that makes me sound like a slacker, it’s really just the results of my own internal workout. We all know that we only have so much time on a given day and that our time on earth isn’t limitless. But we don’t often hear enough about how our energy isn’t either. Maybe it’s because I’m aging but I am more mindful of how I spend my energy. It’s important to be aware of what depletes us and what energizes us. This especially applies to our faith life.


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The purpose of our faith pursuits is to grow stronger in our relationship with God. The work we do to get there will look different. #catholicmom

Spiritually speaking, different things resonate with different people. Attending morning Mass energizes me. I don’t do it as often as I want to but when I do, it feels like the absolute perfect way to start my day. It’s an exercise that makes me feel stronger and ready to practice my faith more diligently. Likewise, sitting in silence and trying to listen to what God is telling me to do feels exhausting. I don’t hear God’s voice as much as I do a tangle of random thoughts that a team of renowned therapists couldn’t begin to unravel.

The same thing applies to service towards our neighbors. Based on our charisms, performing certain mercies will be more gratifying and meaningful to us than others. The purpose of our faith pursuits is to grow stronger in our relationship with God. The work we do to get there will look different. In fact, it may look quite ordinary. Each of us will have a different walk, but the means to the end are the same. Do what makes your faith stronger. It's the perfect workout.


woman selecting hand weights from a rack at the gym


Copyright 2022 Lara Patangan
Images: Canva Pro