Oh no, that’s Hannah, (my elementary school classmate) – she works for the U.N. or something crazy like that now. Should I avoid her? Nope too late. Breathe. Say what your job is with pride.

It was post-college, and I was so ashamed of my lackluster job. I had become a personal trainer (for which you don’t need a 4-year degree, but I majored in Exercise Science anyway). I had a weight loss story of my own, thought Bob Harper from the Biggest Loser was the coolest, so I thought this was the way to go. It never felt completely right. It turns out I was not in love with the craft, didn’t care to keep dig deeper in my studies to get better, or hated the odd hours, which most trainers have to do starting out. I felt only half alive during those years. I wanted admiration, felt I was capable of more, but I just couldn’t succeed. I tried working for various gyms and opening a business on the side. Yet all were failures. I felt very strongly… that I was a failure. I felt deep shame.

I was exercising by myself one day. I felt zero motivation to do so because of the burden I was carrying. I was listening to a Jeremy Camp song. He is a Christian artist and the song is called, “My Desire.” The lyrics just seemed to be hitting me square between the eyes.

You want to be real
You want to be empty inside
You want to be someone, laying down your pride
You want to be someone someday
Lay it all down before the King

You want to be whole
You want to have purpose inside
You want to have virtue and purify your mind
You want to be set free today, then lay it all down before the King

This is my desire
This is my return
This is my desire to be used by you

I realized it was time to give up. I was living life to advance me. And I was failing miserably. It was time to give up serving me. If God still wanted me, I would commit any value I still had to serving Him.

I had picked up part-time work doing personal training with elderly folks at a retirement home. Not the exciting adventure I had pictured my work to be like when I chose this field. But that didn’t matter anymore. My view was God opened this door and placed me here; I would give it my best. A few months later, I was asked to teach their exercise classes. Day One: I did my best to lift their day, challenged them physically (and sometimes mentally), and kept a smile on my face. I ended the class, and I received an ovation. I was stunned. These people, who have been very accomplished people in their day, are pouring praise on me? As my time went on teaching these classes, the seniors would routinely tell me how valuable my instructing was to them, how valuable I was to them.

Looking back, I succeeded when I stopped trying to succeed. I started to see every day as a mission from God to advance His Kingdom in one way or another. The self-esteem you get when you serve something or someone greater than yourself is unexpected, but powerful. I continue to work in senior living with the same mindset that I am divinely placed to serve God and serve others. It is a thrilling way to live life.

12/5/2022 Epilogue:

Just a follow up to sharing my story. In going through the process of reflecting on my story and that time in my life, it got me thinking about how I was a poor employee at my former job. As the weeks went on, it became more and more pressing on my heart to actually apologize to my former supervisor.
Last month I finally sent her an email, told her I owed her an apology, explained how I didn’t really know who I was or what value I had in the service of others. Because I was focused on feeling sorry for myself, I was not putting forth the performance expected of me. I explained that eventually I realized life is not about me, it is much bigger than that. I spoke of the work that I am doing now working with retirees.
I left this job 7 years ago, so I can’t imagine she has given me much thought since. But I wished her and the company well and pressed “send.” She wrote back early the next morning, and graciously accepted my apology. She even remarked on the courage to write such an email. Then she informed me that this day was her last at the organization. Due to some corporate reshuffling, she was out of a job. She closed by saying that I could not have emailed her at a better time.
I thought that was crazy weird. Seemed to have God’s fingerprints on it.