I’ve always appreciated Planet Fitness’s “judgement free zone” slogan. I’ve even used it as a community building technique with youth, “it’s like Planet Fitness up in here–no judgement.” But I didn’t notice until I recently joined my new local PF, that it’s more than just a non-judgement-atmosphere.
Plastered all over the walls and machines is the phrase “you belong.”
Now, imagine me struggling on the cardio machines, watching all the skinny *ladies (*censored, obvi) working out like it’s the easiest, best part of their day; I’m literally wondering
if how I’m going to survive my workout…. And all around me, everywhere I can see is this message “you belong.” You belong. You belong.
I survive my workout, feeling like jello, wondering if I can make it to the car or if I’ll pass out on the way home, and as I leave, the message at the door says, “you did something great today.”
Nehemiah 8:10b says, “the joy of the Lord is my strength.” I hold to this all the time when I’m feeling weak or insecure or struggling with anxiety. This past year has been full of grief, difficult transitions, and struggles I had never faced before. Yet even in my darkest despair, even when I doubted my abilities and strength to carry on, the joy of the Lord gave me strength. The Spirit surrounded me with courage and peace, and I took it one day at a time, fully trusting in God to guide me in the next steps.
So here I am, in my new ministry position, in my new home, with my new car and my new glasses and my new gym…and I am continually surrounded by signs from God, literally saying, “you belong.”
When I met with the personal trainer for the first time early this week, his goal for me wasn’t to lose a certain amount of weight or body fat, or to be able to run a mile…it was simply to show up, three times a week, for eight months. Wow.
I wonder how we as people who follow Jesus might embody this way of being a judgment-free zone, a place of belonging for all people. I wonder how we can build one another up with affirmations of “you did something great today.” I wonder how we might simply honor those who show up.
May you know the wondrous, unconditional love of God this day and share it with everyone you meet. You belong. You belong. You belong.