By Chris Bates

We had far too little rain prior to duck season this year, as has been the case many times. The main challenge this presents on our land is that in areas where we normally can boat out to our blinds, the low water levels leave behind soft, sticky mud for hundreds of yards. There is only one option: Put on your waders, shoulder your gear, and start trudging. Slopping through mud that you sink in up to your knees is brutal. Progressing through it this morning was made even more difficult by the pre-dawn darkness and the dense fog settling in.

As we made slow progress, muscles in our legs began to strain and hurt with each step. Regular hours on the treadmill and rowing machine over the months were helping my overall stamina, but this required muscle use that no gym machine can simulate. Using an old boat paddle as a walking stick helped somewhat with stability, but when pushed on for leverage, it would sink down to the handle. All of our bags, decoys, and gear were getting covered with sticky Delta mud. Once we got to the area where water was standing, the trek became somewhat easier as we got to our hunting spot. We were excited to be there on this first day of the season, but also knew now that the journey out would be even tougher!

Sometimes life can feel like the same kind of endurance process. Life on life’s terms happens, which can look like any form of challenge. Most life hurdles, whether in relationships or health or finance, involve transitions that are not resolved quickly. That’s when finding direction, endurance, and stamina can be tough. That’s where being in shape pays off. “In shape” is not just physical. 

In our ideal state as people, we are balanced in mind, body and spirit. That is the “in shape” that lets us endure and perform well. Working toward that is a constant process. While perfect balance is unachievable, we are responsible for being stewards of all that God has given us.  Caring for the mind is achieved through calmness, joy, self-care, and strengthening our mental health. Keeping the body healthy is done through movement, nutrition, and physically healthy living. But the spiritual part is the most important.

Romans 12:2 reminds us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Jesus provided the perfect life for us to exemplify. God’s love invites us to constantly seek Him. By striving toward those things spiritually, we can then lead the mind and body to be in the best shape possible. Then we move forward in our journey better than ever.

Chris Bates is CEO and co-founder of AgoraEversole, a full-service marketing agency in Jackson, and can be reached at He, his wife, Stacy, and their children live in Madison.