I joined the gym.
Actually, I joined the YMCA. Besides having a contract that doesn’t involve the life of my firstborn child, it also has a fun theme song. The people there are friendly, too, which is important. I need all the grace I can get when it comes to athletics.
The first time there, I didn’t bring a lock. I ended up hanging my jacket on a hook near the front-desk staff. The next time, I showed up with lock in hand and went into the locker room, only to have a bunch of ten-year-olds in swimsuits grow silent and cast sidelong glances my direction. Turns out the Y has a girls’ locker room and a separate women’s locker room.
Today, after locking my possessions up in the grown-up locker room, I found a treadmill in between a runner and a very petite, toned lady who was tearing it up on the stair machine. I always want to run on treadmills, but I have a tough time staying upright when the ground is standing still. So, I put on my headphones, started playing some David Crowder, and began my brisk walk.
About twenty minutes into my walk, I was feeling great – heart rate up, muscles engaged, spirit buoyed. The music was a little quiet, so I turned it up. It still seemed quiet, so I tried to adjust my ear bud. That’s when I realized that the headphones were not plugged in all the way. The stair machine lady and the runner had been listening to my music whether they wanted to or not. I apologized. The stair machine lady complemented me on my music choices. Grace.
After the runner and the stair machine lady finished their workouts, I was still walking. My program on the treadmill ended, and I started it up again and kept going. I thought of my mom who just started college after graduating from high school forty three years ago. She’s brave, my mom. So I figured I could be a little bit brave too. And I ran. I watched myself in the mirrors on the walls, and actually I didn’t look very clunky or cow-like. If someone blurred there eyes a little, I could even pass for an actual runner.
I was graceful. I was fierce. I was brave.
After the workout, I went into the hallway and got a cup of water. My hand bumped into the tank as I raised the cup, and water spilled all over the hallway. So my fierce, brave self got to go back into the room for paper towels. And then return for more paper towels. And a third time. The others in the room were polite enough not to stare. Grace.
I am learning that it’s OK to be vulnerable and a little unsure at times. Being vulnerable means being honest, and it gives me a chance to grow braver in big and small ways. It also gives me a chance to practice grace with myself and to savor it from others. I’ve learned there is a big difference between gracefulness and grace. I don’t have a lot of gracefulness, but I am surrounded by grace.