After the birth of my third child, I was struck by the nature of how there is a time and a place for everything. While I am writing this in reference specifically to the scheduling of one’s workouts, it is just as applicable to every other aspect of life, including prayer life.
Some years ago a newly married fellow, I found my sweet wife to be rather frustrated buy my exercise habits. It was not that I was not exercising. Rather, it was my timing. I would come home from work, say hello, and get dressed and out the door I went to work out. Especially after kids came along, this became a source of contention. While the value of my exercise to me and to the family was evident, the difficulty was found to lie in expectations. After a long day with our kids, my wife was looking forward to me being home and available to help out with, if not distract the kids. When I came and went as I did, conflict arose.
How to solve this dilemma?
The solution was a challenging pill for me to swallow. It was to exercise early in the morning before heading off to work. And not just early… but really E-A-R-L-Y! This was quite a challenge for me, not the least of which because I was chronically slow to get out of bed. I was the guy who hit the snooze button for an hour before I had any idea what I was doing (and that was with the alarm clock across the room!).
Exercise was and is important. So is my family. I see them as inseparably intertwined in that if I am healthy, chances are (God willing) that I will be around a lot longer to spend more time with my wife and kids. And, being in good physical shape means that I can do a whole lot more with them than otherwise.
So I committed to doing what was best for all involved. I woke up between 4am and 4:30am six days a week to work out. Yes, it took quite a bit of adjustment. In fact, it still does. Occasionally I still fall back into the habit of overindulging on the snooze button. But like the seasons, it is cyclical and it often indicates that I am over-trained. So, I pare things back a bit until my body is ready for the next push.
The point is that exercise is a good thing. Just like prayer time and the various devotions that are available to us. However, because I live in a functioning community (my family), I cannot approach it as though I have no responsibilities to others. I must take them into consideration. More technically sounding, they are a variable in my equation of optimal living that is oriented towards holiness, happiness, and health. If I habitually function as though I am an island (as the saying goes) or as though everything else is secondary to me, then imbalance is introduced into the equation. No more equilibrium. Conflict ensues.
So examine how you do things. Just because it is easiest or preferable for you to fit your workouts, prayer, etc, at a particular time, is that optimal for your spouse and/or kids? Are they even a variable that make it into your equation? Could this be an opportunity to die to self, to humbly act in true Christian charity, and change things up a bit to better accommodate others without making excuses?
My best workouts still take place in the midday. Occasionally on weekends I am able to get a mid-afternoon workout in… and I savor them when I do. Even when I don’t, getting up early (as it best works for my family) is still worth it. Life is much more tranquil as a result. That is the fruit of this sacrifice.
What are the fruits of the way you schedule your life?