3 W's - Workout, Worship, and Women
Ok, so I think I’ve finally gotten up the courage to share this new idea I had. I’ve shared it with a few friends and even sort of tried it out once but I wanted to put the process of coming to the idea and the idea itself up here as a way to document it for myself and also as a way to open the idea up the community around me….
First, I’ve realized that I’m really out of shape. I would like to be able to be as flexible as I was a few years ago and I’d like to be able to walk uphill a few blocks without being totally out of breath – both things I can’t do at the moment. I used to dance and work out regularly but lately I spend most of my time working in front of a computer and I feel like my body is beginning to feel that change.
Second, I’ve realized (or maybe I should say that I have been realizing over the past few years) that there are a lot of different ways to worship and connect with God. Along these lines I’ve come to enjoy even more deeply things like form prayers, meditating on scripture, taking long walks through creation, and in general acknowledging that God can and does reveal Himself and allow us to connect with Him through anything – movies, music, the arts, and even our physical bodies. For the last few years I have off and on done yoga for much this reason – I feel like putting my body in the various postures has often caused my heart and soul and mind to worship and connect with God in a new way. I’ve also come to realize and learn that we can indeed act ourselves into a new way of feeling quicker then we can feel ourselves into a new way of acting. If I bow down before God even when I don’t feel like it I find that the physical act results in leading my heart and mind to a posture of bowing down as well. When I lay in corpse pose (stretched out on my back on the floor) in a posture of exposed openness I find that my mind and heart become exposed and open to what God wants to tell me as well.
Third, and very closely related to the second point, God has been challenging me to accept and rejoice in that fact that I am a physical being. God created me as a physical being and He declared at creation that the physical world and beings that He created were GOOD. Yes, I do know though that I am a broken and sinful physical being but I also know that God didn’t choose to save me by separating me from my physicality. He instead chose to save me by Himself entering into our physical world and becoming a physical being Himself. God incarnate redeems the entire physical world He created. God has been challenging me to look at the world and my life more holistically. It is not that the spiritual (mind/soul) are good and the temporal/physical is bad. All of me is a good creation of my God and all of me is broken and in need of redemption.
Fourth, this may sound odd, but lately I have been coming to accept more and more my femininity. There were a number of years of my life (mostly quite a while ago, back in High School) when I secretly wished I had been born a boy instead of a girl. I didn’t feel like I fit with most of the girls I knew – I didn’t want to shop and talk about boys I wanted to think deeply and discuss theology and social sciences. And in the circles I ran in I was told that some of the things I wanted to do with my life I wasn’t able to do because I was a girl. Eventually I stopped wishing that I was a boy and came to accept that I would always be a woman and even began to delight in some parts of being a woman. But, I think even after that there was a bit of bitterness still in me against some of the things that I had been taught and had heard all of my life growing up in conservative Christian circles. So, I think over the last two years especially God has been healing me in some of that bitterness and showing me more deeply some of the beauty and strength and grace that belongs to woman alone.
All these things were bouncing around in my head when a dear friend of mine sent me this quick email from China:
I went out early onto the plaza/square here in Chongqing. And there I saw the most delightful scene....hundreds of women gathered together for their morning dances!! There is something RIGHT about a country where women congregate in the morning to dance! And the steps don't even have to be perfect… I thought out of all my friends, you could appreciate this the most!! May you dance this morning, my friend!!
All these thoughts, and this email, and a few other conversations I have had lately has gotten me thinking and I came up with an idea…
I’d like to get a group of women together at a consistent time once a week (though I would expect that not everyone would be able to make it every week) to work out together but to do so in ways that would also be to worship together and walk along side each other through the special trials and triumphs that the female sex shares. Here’s what I envision… Ideally I would love it if we could all trade off leading so that each time we meet a different person leads out of their own unique strengths and the place that they are personally at with God. So, for example, if I’m leading the first time I would maybe start by leading everyone through a Celtic prayer from the prayer book and then lead through a yoga exercise and some mediation on scripture. Maybe someone else would want to take us all on a walk their week so that we could all just talk and connect and pray while also getting some exercise. Or maybe another week the person leading would feel too tired to work out and would just want to pray together or lead us through a physical prayer that we can do as well as say. Or maybe another week the person leading would feel like celebrating and really praising God and we would all just put on some loud music and dance together. I think ideally I would love it if anyone and everyone would lead at some point in some sort of way but, I also don’t want people to feel that they have to lead if they don’t want to. Really, I envision it being a place where we can stretch and strengthen our bodies as well as our minds and souls and a safe place where we can come together and “dance” together as beautiful uniquely created women - A place where we can discover truth about God and about ourselves. I would want this group to be a place where we can explore God and our physicality and ourselves as being created in God’s image in an open and generous way, and also a place where truth is spoken into our lives and lived into our lives.
Rejoicing in the journey - Beth Stedman