The problem with working out to “work it out”

 Last Friday, as I was heading out the door to meet my friend Cait at the gym my phone buzzed. A quick glance showed me it was a text message from her. She wasn’t able to make it to the gym that morning to work out with me. I know what you are thinking, she gave the usual excuses our workout buddies typically do, ‘I’m too tired, not feeling well, or just plain don’t want to’, however that wasn’t what the text said. What her text said made
me ponder our inclination to work out so that we can “work out our junk”.
Cait’s text simply read that she was feeling grumpy in her soul and
knew she needed to take that hour we would have spent in the gym to be with Jesus instead an
d refuel her soul before the day began. As I read the text I thought to myself, “well come to the gym anyway, you’ll feel better when you’re done, and isn’t
that the best time to workout? When you’re mad, frustrated, or annoyed?” And there lied the problem.
As a culture, we tell ourselves that if we just knockout a few miles on the pavement our problems won’t seem so big. Though what I admired most about Cait’s text message was that she dug deeper and realized that no 30 minutes on a treadmill or lifting weights was going to fix what was going on with her. She needed time at the feet of her Savior not a pump session.
How often do we let exercise or even food be our way to “work it out?”  I’ve been guilty of it. I’d rather bake in the kitchen when I’m mad or move my body for a little bit to forget the frustrations. I mean that is what endorphins are for! Elle from Legally Blonde told us, “exercise builds endorphins, endorphins make you happy, happy people don’t shoot their husbands.” So how can working out to work out my junk really be that bad for me?
Well, it would like putting lipstick on a pig, for lack of a better analogy.
When we choose to work out during those times we may feel better for a little while afterwards when all that “pent up aggression” has worked its way out of our system as happy endorphins work their way in however, those things are external fixes while sometimes that problem is solely internal, spiritual. We need to be aware that there is a spiritual battle happening in our lives and choosing to cope with our issues by means other than our Creator will not satisfy.
So while I believe there can be good that can come from working out during times of anger or frustration (I mean you are moving your body!), I want to choose to drop my knees before my Father before I pick up my barbell or lace up my shoes. In those moments, that is where I will find my true strength, not in myself to deal with my crap but in my Creator who is way more equipped than I will ever be.