Burpees are the very worst.
I don’t know if there is anyone out there who really enjoys burpees. I mean, I’m pretty sure whoever invented them has had some pretty mean things said in their name a time or two. But, unfortunately, I know all too well about burpees. And as much as I hate them and as horrible as they are, I also understand how it benefits the entire body – strengthening your legs, arms, back, and core. Doing them increases physical and mental endurance, especially when you are trying not to say anything because you can’t think of anything nice to say. But, for some crazy reason, if you do burpees with other people, they have a tendency to create relationships and build camaraderie. This exercise creates a united front for enduring the suffering together that you will forever have in common. “That one time, that you did burpees.” Because only the crazy people come back for more and sign up a second time, with still sore muscles knowing every bit of what’s in store.
But those people also know the secret. The secret that suffering actually benefits us. Pain makes us better. Suffering makes us stronger. Suffering pulls out within us our very best and the parts of ourselves that we wouldn’t know… without burpees. Like, what our arms and legs look like with tone and what our day looks like with less stress. It can also be what our lives look like with more confidence in ourselves and in our abilities. It shows us what we are truly capable of. Something we can never figure out by standing on the side, watching other crazy people do burpees. We can only figure that out with sweat dripping off our foreheads, thinking our arms are about to give out, with the risk that we could face plant any minute. We can only figure that out when we hush the cuss words and the cant’s that are floating around in our heads and we start listening to the other inner voice inside that says that we can. It says that we can do hard things and we can actually do them well – with some practice, maybe. But no one started out doing anything perfectly. Especially burpees.
But, here is the thing. God already knew about burpees long before we ever did. He knew the calisthenics of it all. How it would all work together for the greater good of our bodies… and, get this, our lives. This correlates to all other parts of our lives. God uses hard days to strengthen us. He uses the heartache to draw us closer to Him and the chaos to grow our faith. The struggles shape us more into His likeness. He uses all of it, even what the world intended for evil, and transforms it for our good.
I used to joke that the devil must have invented them. Only he could come up with something as torturous as burpees. Something that’s not just a push-up, but an enhanced version of a fall to the ground, push-up, pull your feet underneath you and jump up with your hands raised. But the truth is, the devil is more likely the one that invented a couch. It’s the place we hide out from our true potential and keeps us away from making friends and doing things that are bigger than the pile of laundry keeping us company. This is where we sit, thinking about all the things we wish we could improve or ignoring all the things that keep us up at night. This is the place that keeps us from going out and making a difference. That sounds more like the devil to me.
I guess what it all comes down to is that life will always be full of ups and downs. Good days and bad days. Bad months and good months. There will always be the burpees of life. While we are living on this side of the stars, those things are not in our control. But what is in our power is what we are going to do about it. How we are going to let it shape and form us from that moment forward. If our ups and downs are going to be on and off the couch. Or if they are going to be used by God to strengthen us. If we are going to listen to the cuss words and the cant’s or if we are going to allow God to use the sweat dripping off our forehead to make us better versions of ourselves. To show us what we are truly made of. How we are made like Him in His image and glory. The burpees of life might get us down, but we are learning how to push up, put our feet back on solid ground and not only rise but jump up, with our hands raised to the sky. Surrendering to the moment and giving it over to God. Transforming our raised hands into praise. Giving our God, a “hallelujah!” Because we know He’s going to work this for our good. And we are going to come out, stronger and better.