As I sat in the frozen tundra of the new fitness facility, I was suddenly wrapped with warmth. Warmth from the people and experiences that I encountered during our two-day meeting, or more appropriately, our two day "reunion of friends". This year the theme of the conference was "Friendship for a Lifetime" and it definitely was a reunion of friends.
Bob was wrapping up the session after the last speakers had shared what they gained during the meeting. I wanted so badly to speak up but a lump had formed in my throat as I was fully touched by the beauty of this organization, this family, that I belonged to. Oh, I wanted to speak up but with an orange-sized lump in my throat and frostbite on my toes, I was in no condition to speak.
For years I could not understand why I had to grow up raising my siblings, why Mom and Dad had too many issues to even care for us. I didn't understand why I developed eating disorders, why weight and food were such obsessions, why I had to work so hard for every penny to put myself through college and to wash my clothes by hand in the dormitory sink while other kids were wasting their parents' money foolishly. Why later was I stuck with two babies in the four walls of my tiny apartment with no car, no money, and no apartment. I didn't know why. But God knew.
I used to wrestle with God and wondered what happened to those big promises He made me, that one day I would make a big difference in this world. I would change lives for Him. Wasn't I supposed to bet a top corporate women? What about the exotic trip to some faraway country to spread His word to the natives? I didn't know what a lowly mother of two babies and one on the way could do to make an impact on this world. But God knew.
It took me years to gather up the nerves to walk to the nearby YMCA since I did not have a car for the majority of my married life. I worked out during the wee hours of the morning with the senior citizens. Hopefully, they wouldn't reject me as I just "knew" the people my age would for my self esteem was so low. Through it all, I fell in love with the Active Older Adults and that led me to venture into the younger crowd's turf.
I was hooked! For once, I was working out correctly and eating healthfully with no more eating disorders and obssessive exercising for three hours or more per day.
But once again, another dysfunction arose. We could not afford the membership and had to cancel. Why me? Why now? I did not know. But God knew.
Somehow someone came along and told me that all I had to do was pay $10.00 per month for the membership. TEN DOLLARS A MONTH FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY! No shame. No embarrassment. No attention drawn to me.
The YMCA has a scholarship program for families in need and it wasn't until last year that I realized I was a recipient of their Caring for People Program. I realized this during my CFP training years later when I was Director. WOW! Needless to say, I developed a love for myself, for people, and for the "Y" and became a part-time staff member. I had found a lifetime friend no matter where I lived.
Six years and three Y's later, due to my husband's job relocations, I became part of the Kansas City Association. However, after working there for only a month I submitted my resignation. At the time, there were too many issues and I was extremely disappointed that it was no longer what I had grown to know and love about the YMCA. Unwillingly, it was no longer the friend I knew. But there were people who wouldn't let me go; wouldn't let me end it "that way". The friendship needed some help; some communication.
As life continues on, there will always be issues or dysfunctions that get in the way such as my developing fibromyalgia (a condition that affects the muscles, joints, nervous system, and sleeping pattern of the body) and having to do my workouts in the pool for almost a year. But then I became an Aquatics Instructor. Another issue that arose was anxiety which led me to doing yoga. Then I became a Yoga Instructor.
Praise God that I am back to running six to eight miles every other day even with fibromyalgia and standing on my head for two minutes straight as I relax in yoga. I am also personal training. Yes, there will be many more issues as life continues on.
As I was basking in the warmth and love of good friends, I could no longer feel the Arctic blast of the facility's air conditioning as I started to realize that everything happened for a reason.
I know how the member with arthritis feels. I can relate to the mother who works in childcare who not only has to deal with her own children every day but other people's kids too.
The loneliness of a depressed housewife, the frustration of a yo-yo dieter, the motivated bodybuilder starting his first contest, the staff member who works the shift tha no one wants, the person who needs financial assistance, the manager who is struggling with an unmotivated staff, people from all walks of life.... I can relate to them all.
I had found a friend for a lifetime and the amazing thing is this organization, this placed called home, spent time and money to encourage this very thing--FRIENDSHIP FOR A LIFETIME.
This was no coincidence! They say everything happens for a reason and I now know that this is true. As I bowed my head for the closing prayer, I realized that I was living the promise that God had made to me many years ago. He knew what a lowly housewife with three children could do to make a difference in the world. The Lord knew and NOW I KNOW. What a friendship and what a lifetime!!