Katie Prejean McGrady

“You are brave. Thank you for showing up!”

I am brave, I thought. I did show up!

“You are here for a reason. What’s that reason?!”

I am here for a reason … oh gosh, what is my reason?

I found myself muttering these motivational phrases to myself as the instructor on the screen effortlessly pedaled her Peloton bike. Meanwhile, I was heavily panting, sweat dripping down my forehead, my legs screaming in pain.

But I was brave. And I had shown up. For a reason. So, I wasn’t going to quit.

In 20 short minutes, Jess King, a popular Peloton instructor with signature catchphrases and a long braid, had convinced me that climbing onto a stationary bike and riding with all my might made me a brave woman unafraid to push myself to the limit.

And she’d encouraged me (and every other person who’s ever taken this particular class, over 60,000 at last count) to come up with three reasons why we would pedal our way to nowhere that particular day.

The three reasons came to mind quickly: my kids, my health, my future.

I bought an exercise bike because I want to get in shape, mainly so I can run around the backyard with my kids and not get winded. And I was taking the class because long-term health goals can’t just be met by eating a few more salads each week. I needed to exercise.

My third reason: my future. Honestly, that just sounded good at the time, and I needed a third reason because Jess told me I needed one. In reality, I don’t really know what it means to be riding an exercise bike for my future. It’s not like the bike is ever going to move.

But I couldn’t get her motivating words out of my mind, even hours after the class was done.

I had reasons for doing this — for putting on absurd looking shoes and sitting on a too small bike seat and pedaling as hard as I could to raise my heart rate and burn some calories and earn a spot on the leaderboard.

We have reasons for everything, don’t we?

There’s a reason I drink coffee each morning: It wakes me up. There’s a reason I call my mom after I drop off my kids at school: It’s the easiest time of the day for us to talk. There’s a reason I answer emails on Wednesday: It’s the one day of the week I can concentrate on menial tasks.

We’re driven by reasons — some obvious, some perhaps deeply personal, but each relevant.

And there’s a reason why we hopefully long to grow in our understanding of the faith, and ownership of a life lived for Christ. We’re motivated because of him.

The same way I show up to a spin class with an instructor I will never meet in person, because I want to be healthier, I show up to Mass every Sunday because I know it will make me holy. And, this time, I know it will be Jesus I meet someday.

I don’t speculate, wish or imagine it will make me holy. I know it will make me holy.

Just like I know riding a stationary bike every day for a month will build muscle in my body. There’s verifiable proof doing that will work. There’s lives of the saints that show me that if I pray, if I live a sacramental life, if I serve others, if I look to live not for this world, but for him alone, then I will become holy and know Jesus more.

And why would I do that? What’s my reason? Well, for my kids. I want them to do it too. And, for my health. Because I’m a better person overall when I know and love Jesus. And, for my future. And this time, I really do mean for my future because it’s a future with him in heaven that I am pursuing.

I don’t necessarily need a Peloton instructor in spandex on a bike to motivate me to do that. I just need Jesus.

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Katie Prejean McGrady is an award-winning author and host of The Katie McGrady Show on Sirius XM’s The Catholic Channel. She is a columnist for Catholic News Service and lives in Lake Charles, Louisiana, with her family.