My Summer in the South: Sweat and Strength.



“He gives power to the weak
    and strength to the powerless.” – Isaiah 40:29 (NLT)

As a poor grad student living in one of the most expensive cities in the United States, I don’t have the privilege of belonging to a gym. There are more important things I spend my money on…like rent and groceries.

Being in the South, I have the privilege of staying in a neighborhood with a clubhouse and I’ve been taking advantage of the gym everyday. I forgot how much I love to workout! Running has its advantages, but there’s nothing like testing one’s strength by picking up heavy things over and over again. As I press, pull, lift, and squat, I feel my body getting stronger.

I am much stronger than I think I am.

Ironically, my time in the gym has also been a place of rest and healing. With every drop of sweat, my body sheds the lies I’ve been told about myself, painful memories I’ve carried for years, and hurtful names I’ve been given. My body is releasing the toxins that have been stored up for far too long and my heart is being healed.

Sweat is cleansing proof that I am getting stronger. My true north, my core self, my identity is getting stronger everyday and my time in the South is helping me become more of who I already am.

I was recently told that my identity was not strong enough to depart from a relationship. I was told that I was lost, that I would feel like a part of me was missing.

No! … No.

I know exactly who I am and who I am becoming. I am strong. I am brave. I am beautiful. I am courageous. I am loving, I am loveable, and I am lovely. I am wise. I am faithful. I am loyal. I am a warrior!

My time in the gym has solidified months of gut-wrenching soul work that I have been called into, and I am proud of the solid identity I have discovered in myself. I am far from perfect, but I have a better grasp of who I am than I did a year ago, and I am proud.

I am proud of the boundaries I have put around myself. I am proud of the risks I have taken. I am proud of the courage I have displayed in relationships. I am proud of the change that’s occurring in me. I am proud of the gallons of sweat that I wring out of my workout clothes at the end of the day. I am proud of the countless tears I have shed and the painful grief I have experienced, all to find healing and growth. I am proud of shaky muscles and spaghetti arms, mournful rainy days and faithful Sunday mornings.

I am proud of my perseverance to continue this work, to refuse to be broken by it.

There is a part of me that fears this is the end of something beautiful, yet as I seek the face of my Father and hear Him whisper softly in my ear, these fears are turned into peace.

This isn’t the end, it’s only the beginning.

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