Photo by mesaba
I hate to sweat, which is to say that I’ve really hated these past 10-days of 95-105-degree heat and high humidity.
Sure, it’s a common feeling to have about sweat, but I suspect my feelings on the matter are stronger than the average person’s. It’s a perfect storm of personal misery colliding with social self-consciousness under an umbrella of claustrophobia.
When I’m feeling extra sweaty (like today, with a forecasted high of 104), I try reminding myself that everyone sweats, but it doesn’t make me feel less slimy and gross.
Then I try telling myself that it’s good for me, which is true—sweating cools your body down while releasing toxins and increasing metabolism. The pores on your skin open, allowing dirt and impurities to exit. And some believe sweating helps your body generate more white blood cells, which in turn bolsters your immune system.* So sweat away!
But still, I would really rather not.
As I was walking verrry slooowly to the cafe this morning, sticking to the shadiest side of the street, I focused on all those toxins and impurities exiting my body. And it occurred to me that most true, deep, cleansing processes involve some discomfort. We’d love to think that simply taking a daily shower washes away all of the toxins, but the truth is, the pleasant, easy shower only cleanses the surface. We might feel temporarily clean and fresh, but the junk is still trapped below, causing trouble we can’t necessarily see.
So, what if the discomfort of sweating is like a spiritual practice—a not-very-pretty-but-necessary process? It’s the confessing, the forgiving, the recognition of the junk inside that is slowly but surely wrecking havoc in our lives. The toxins that leave our systems are bitterness, resentment, jealousy, disappointment, and all the hurts we harbor against God and people.
Does that deep cleansing have an impact on our spiritual metabolism and immune system—the overall health of our relationship with God and others? I think so.
And one of the handy things about sweating is that once you give yourself over to it—as soon as you decide it’s hopeless to get through that bike ride or yard work or barbeque without sweating—it’s extremely freeing. An acceptance of the misery has a way of defeating the misery altogether. It makes me wonder why I ever even bother struggling against all the junk that just needs to find a way out.
*There’s all kinds of information on line about the health benefits of sweating—I got my information from this article.