I used to go to the gym regularly (yes, back in the day) and at one point even hired a personal trainer.
I don't remember if I wrote about this already. The analogy hit me again today, about my secret life as a (light)weight lifter.
Sometime in 2008, I signed up for thirty sessions with the PT just so I'd have someone reminding me of my workout sessions, assisting me during warmup, and directing me during the actual calorie-burning chores. She did a good job, for before that I had zero desire to sweat like a pig.
I was, as expected, a major complainer. I kept asking for lesser repetitions. I made faces when she made me take heavier dumbbells. I felt unglamorous as I sweated while my cute little PT just looked fresh-faced, all the time. If she were not so fragile-looking, I would have hated her. I preferred the dance classes but I had to go to them outside of actual PT sessions, which meant I had to spend more time at the gym than my lifestyle permitted.
After less than a year of hitting the gym, I started to feel pain on my elbows. I mentioned it to my PT and she said that she noticed a change in me as well. That was when she told me that I had actually gained strength and was already able to obey her almost effortlessly, until that time. I didn't know that I was particularly strong, or that I had improved.
It turned out that I overexerted myself during a business trip to a national lawyers' conference, as I had to bring heavy luggage containing CD Asia materials, and this resulted to a minor injury. I experienced pain whenever I tried to lift heavy objects. I had to stop going to the gym (and forego my remaining prepaid sessions), and instead went to a physical therapist.
Now, my spiritual direction sessions are starting to feel like work. I want to make faces at my SD when he assigns me to look more closely at certain situations and feelings that I tell him about. He said I had to endure the discomfort so I could deal with my emotions and let them point me to what they mean.
I just hope that I am gaining strength even if I do not see it. That I am lifting incrementally heavier weights with less sweat and aches. And I hope that I do not overexert myself outside of my SD sessions so that I don't get injured again.
I can't stand another injury.