Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Every now and then, something interferes with our training. Schedules, work, to-do lists, illness.....injuries. Nobody is exempt from interruptions. I have one now :(  Last week, I hurt myself in a class.....recovery is on the horizon, but it has forced me to be a non-exerciser for a few weeks.  This is new to me.  
Living life without an elevated heart rate or tender muscles is new terrain.

Setbacks happen.  It's not "how can we avoid them" but rather 

Sometimes, God allows these things in our lives to teach us lessons or give us perspective.  It might be that we need to discover empathy for others who have had similar occurrences. It could be that we need to feel supported and cared for by others; or maybe they are being encouraged (by our mishap) to show their love for us! Or perhaps we need to have a few days/weeks/months of rest and downtime. Whatever the case may be, there are many blessings behind setbacks if you look past the surface of it all.

There was a time, while working at a health club years ago, that I knew a man named John. John was a 67 year-old retired teacher who worked out consistently, Monday through Friday, at 3:00 in the afternoon.  He put more miles on "his" treadmill than anyone else in that club.  His upbeat, perky, jolly personality was contagious to all who knew him. He was always smiling, always had a funny story to tell, and rarely missed a workout even if it had snowed a foot outside.  
When John walked in the front door, it was as if the day was deemed normal.

One day, John didn't show up.  And that followed by a second day....and a third. Until finally we decided to call and check on him. His sweet wife answered the phone and calmly explained that John had not felt well and went to the doctor only to quickly discover that he needed a triple by-pass ASAP. Stunned. Not JOHN! He was so healthy and vibrant and alive!!! The news traveled fast as meal calendars were set up and flowers sent to his home.  Several weeks passed and still no word from John or his family.  The likelihood of his return seemed slim and 3 p.m. had a slightly empty feeling. 
We began to wonder if we would ever see John again.

At about the eight-week mark, John's beat up old pick-up pulled into a stall and he walked in with his gym bag slung over his shoulder (as usual) and he paused at the front desk for his traditional, "How ya doin', Ladies?" greeting.  AHHHHH! JOHN!!! Whaaaaa???????

The regulars gathered around and welcomed him back, and we asked him for some details and insight to his time away.  John set down his bag and took a seat on a nearby stool. One member said to him, "John, of all people, I would have never expected to hear you had a heart problem. It was shocking. I guess all that working out didn't really do you much good, huh?"

John laughed and replied, "Oh, quite the contrary, my dear friend.  My team of doctors told me that it was because I exercised so much that I wasn't dead 15 years ago."  Gulp. He went on.
"This little incident was just a test of the 'ol ticker. Gave me and the wife a chance to spend some time together and plan our next vacation!  It was a welcome break in the routine of things. A little time to get my thoughts in order and take stock in how things were going, ya know?" Silence.

Man. No bitterness? No frustration? No self-pity?  No, an example, that's what it was.  John represented an attitude about life that was enlightening and motivating.  He did not consider his health issue a setback. 
He considered it a blessing.

John briskly picked up his bag, purchased a water, and scurried on back to the locker room to change just like he always did.  Fifteen minutes later, I glanced down the hallway and saw him on that treadmill. He was smiling. He was sweating. He was healthy and renewed. And he was grateful.

For every setback, there is a comeback.

1 comment:

  1. Great story Heather! Thanks for sharing :) -Holly