“Enjoying exercise” has always seemed a contradiction in terms to me. Exercise is work, exhausting pushing-yourself-to-the-limit effort, and certainly not at the top of my enjoyment list. I know one is supposed to find joy in reaching fitness goals, but sometimes I just want to reward myself with extra sleep or a slice of cake. However, I reached that point where I looked at myself in the mirror and realized I wasn’t making progress. So I’ve been trying to get back into a fitness routine—and what better goal than a 15 km run through our suburb that my friends and I participate in every year?

Every day, I worked out till my muscles burned, and then a little further. I did, and did, and did. And then I crashed. The day of the run, I couldn’t find any reserves of strength; I felt awful. I waited hopefully till just an hour before the start but didn’t improve. So it was with huge regret that I had to bow out and watch my friends go without me.

Since I wasn’t going running anymore, I decided to visit a quadriplegic friend. I normally love seeing my friend, but this time, I was feeling sorry for myself, and also rather embarrassed at my lack of achievement.

When I arrived, I halfheartedly asked him how he was doing. He said, “I’m fine, although earlier there was a huge spider on the wall just above my bed, and though I saw it, there was nothing I could do! I couldn’t get away; I just had to call for help and wait for my caretaker. That was pretty awful.” And then he chuckled.

Suddenly my grump fog cleared. I realized how blessed and privileged I am to have full use of all my limbs, to have a body that may get tired or run-down but isn’t confined to a bed or wheelchair. In that moment, my blessings exponentially multiplied in my mind. And I found myself laughing along with him and beginning to enjoy the evening.

If there’s one thing this experience taught me it’s that each of us has so, so much to be thankful for and—like my friend—so many reasons to be cheerful in spite of difficulties. Beyond that, if God has blessed you with potential, exercise it! I’m getting back into my routine, and I’m praying for the strength to keep on, both physically and spiritually, till I reach my goals.