I knew my last attempt at a workout program was going to crash and burn about 10 minutes in, when I was informed that I would be assigned a “Battle Buddy,” and that his name was Jose. While I can appreciate the benefits of having a workout partner in a high-level, conceptual kind of way, I can also appreciate the fact that there is not much in life that is more awkward than having one’s feet wedged securely under the rump of a strange and profusely sweaty man while one struggles to crank out 100 respectable sit-ups.
Don’t get me wrong—Jose was a very nice guy. And I don’t think he was super excited about having his feet clamped under my sweaty bum, either. But ours was a relationship doomed to failure. Call me crazy, but I want to keep my funky, early-morning workout smells and sweatiness within a reasonable buffer zone that involves minimal-to-no physical contact with other people. I am not my best self when I am running wind sprints at 5:30 a.m., and keeping a wide berth of others seems like the considerate thing to do. Nobody gets puked on, and nobody else has to encounter my gross self.
Beyond the realm of working out, though, I have to admit that this tends to be my default position in life. Maintain the buffer zone, avoid close contact and nobody gets puked on (including me). But here’s the deal: while working out so closely with Jose may have made me uncomfortable on about ten different levels, he provided the resistance and support that was necessary to exercise certain muscles. His ample booty gave the ballast needed to keep my sit-ups honest (albeit highly uncomfortable—again, on about ten different levels).
I’m increasingly aware that God has placed some real-life “Battle Buddles” in the periphery of my life—challenging people who are meant to exercise spiritual muscles like longsuffering (which I think is a mixture of love and patience, but really needs a new name because it just sounds like a total downer). Of course, to keep these people at arm’s length is to completely negate the role that God intends for us to play in each other’s spiritual growth.
I am not a highly motivated individual when it comes to physical fitness. Partly due to the whole “Battle Buddy” situation, I only lasted for about two weeks of the four-week boot camp that I had signed up for. That was two months ago, and although I told myself that I would continue to work out on my own, I didn’t. I now realize that had I stuck with the boot camp, as awkward as my relationship with Jose was, I would have reaped benefits that are now non-existent. I’m no genius, but I think the same could be said about my real-life Battle Buddies as well.