Miriam uses a word that I like. Sometimes when I'm on the last repetition of the last set, a muscle begins to involuntarily tremble. "That's great," she says. "You're working to the point of failure."
In weight training, failure is a good thing. Failure means you've worked so hard that your body is saying, "Enough already! I give!" It means you haven't lost control - you're not in danger of injuring yourself - but if you don't stop now, you might be overdoing it.
I like thinking of failure that way. I wonder how our lives might be different if we thought about impending collapses as signals that we're working to the point of failure - the place of needing rest and respite. What if we were to simply stop, pat ourselves on the back for doing our best, and take a break, instead of judging ourselves or pushing to the point of injury?
Resistance training is teaching me other things, too. It's impossible to think about your troubles when you're working a muscle at full capacity. And it's almost as impossible not to sail through the rest of the day when you're fueled by an endorphin high.
Strong bones, I hope, will be the reward for this discipline. But meanwhile the sense of intercessory exercise suffices very well. I pray for the women who have gone before me whose fragile bones were taxed beyond limit by backbreaking work. I pray for those who don't have the strength to move for the sheer joy of moving. And I pray in response to the sense of gratitude that pulses through my body.