On Doing What You Don’t Want To

Today, I did a workout I didn’t want to do. I’ve been fighting a stomach bug this weekend, nothing too dramatic but it makes me want to lay around, do nothing, and stay close to home. I’m wrapping up an exercise challenge for this month and I didn’t want to get more than a day behind, so I forced myself to do this workout. I knew it would be tough, I knew it wouldn’t feel good, and I didn’t want to do it, but I also knew I needed to do it. So I did. I got through it. I thought it would be a lot worse, than it was, actually. It’s not a long workout, only took about 12 minutes to finish, and muscle memory did most of the work. I’ve been doing these same three moves for nearly a month now so once I started my body just did what it needed to do. Now I’m not sure if my stomach feels any better, but I do feel better about myself.

Clearly, my mind has been focused on challenging myself to do things I haven’t done before, and things I need to do but have been avoiding. There are times in life where it’s good to be content with were you are, and other times when you need to push yourself to do more, be more, accomplish more. Guess which season I’m in right now?

I wrote recently on doing what you can’t. That’s certainly a challenge, but I like a challenge. What is hard for me is doing what I don’t want to. The reasoning behind that is so obvious, I can’t believe I’m going to say it. It’s because … I don’t want to. Crazy, huh? The absolute hardest thing for me is doing the things I know I need to do, but that I don’t want to do. And worse, I am confronted many times a day with this conundrum. Whether it’s a tough workout when I’d rather be goofing off or taking a nap, making better eating choices, getting up earlier, having an uncomfortable conversation, or taking a scary step that may or may not work out well, I am constantly having to choose to do things I’d rather not. So here are a couple of things I’ve learned about that.

First, you don’t get anywhere in life by refusing to do something just because you don’t want to do it. The hard things, the challenging things, those are the things that grow us. If you’re not where you want to be, ask yourself, what hard thing have you been avoiding?

Second, if you refuse to do something you don’t want to do, you may miss an opportunity you have been hoping for. Sometimes we do things we regret. Sometimes, we DON’T do things, and miss out, and regret that even more. I’ve missed out on so many things because I didn’t want to do the work it would take to accomplish them, or because I was afraid of what might happen if I tried. Sometimes its worth it to take a risk. Even if you fail or get hurt, you can learn a lesson and grow as a person. If you never move forward because you might fail, if you never love because you might get hurt or hurt someone, you will live a sad, boring, empty life. I don’t want that. I’d rather face the tough stuff, do the things I don’t want to, and live a full, meaningful life.

Third, you’re not alone. I was reading Romans 7 today and it’s pretty clear that even the great apostle Paul, whose actions and teaching literally changed the world, struggled with this issue. It’s part of the human condition. We do the bad things we know we shouldn’t. We avoid doing the good things we know we should. It’s a struggle. A certain amount of mental fortitude and stubborn determination can get us pretty far in life, but Paul also gives the secret for when we can’t do enough on our own, and hope for when we fail. The sacrifice of Christ wipes out our bad decisions, the grace of God gives us another chance and the Holy Spirit gives us the power to do both what we can’t and what we don’t want to. As I was reading Romans 7 this morning I was really feeling Paul’s struggle, and also the relief when he concludes by exclaiming, “Thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ!”

If you’re facing something today that requires doing a good thing that you just don’t want to do, I challenge you to take a deep breath, say a prayer, and just do it. Hopefully, you’ll be glad you did.

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