I went on vacation with my sister and at the same time was training for a half marathon, so one of the days I ran on the treadmill in the hotel gym. It ended up being a total nightmare because for all the amenities and technology in the gym, there were no opening windows, temperature controls, or fans. It was stuffy and hot and I didn’t last long in there, let alone go back any other day. But as I was simultaneously running, listening to techno on my ipod, and watching CNN, I was looking at the walls which were made up of mirrors on all sides. I could see dozens of reflections of myself going off in all directions. In spite of the techno and the running it reminded me of the mirrors in the sealing room of the temple.
Mormon’s believe that when you are married in a temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, you are “sealed” to your spouse for eternity. This means that you will be able to live together in the next life and throughout eternity. When you have children, they are automatically sealed to the two of you, enabling you to be with them forever as well. The sealing room has mirrors facing each other on opposite walls so that when you and your spouse look into those mirrors together you see your reflection going on forever in both directions, symbolizing the endless numbers of people you can be sealed to, both your ancestors and your posterity. It’s a beautiful symbol for a beautiful doctrine. It’s also a sobering reminder that you are just one link in an eternal chain of family, and that what you do affects all of the others who come after you.
As I was pondering this in the gym and watching my overweight body pounding away at the treadmill in a skin-tight exercise outfit (hey, it keeps the chafing at bay), I saw this reflection of myself going on and on and on. I was grateful no one else was there to see me, but I also had a small twinge of satisfaction. I am usually the self-loathing type, but for a moment I was proud of myself for working out despite how grueling it is. Having a habit of exercise is a good example for my kids. It shows them how important it is to keep your body as healthy as possible (I’m working on it) and that sometimes you have to do things that are hard, even when you don’t want to. Once when I dropped Big Girl off at the local gym’s child care, she asked me if when she was older, she would be able to work out too.
Continuing to exercise throughout my life will encourage my children to do the same, which will hopefully encourage their children, and so on. It felt good to realize that I can be a strong link in my eternal family chain that could set my descendants on a path to good health and self-discipline. A mirrored gym, while unflattering, is a good reminder that our good habits aren’t just for ourselves. They can be a good influence on our kids and can be a benefit to others for generations to come.