Friday, February 18, 2011

40DLD-33: Invisible Ceilings and Taken Strikeouts

A funny thing happened when I went to the gym today.  I found myself doubting my ability to move up to the next set of weights.

No, I'm not the first person who's ever done this, but it's how the weights fall out.  See, I had made it all the way up to 50lb dumbbells, but the second I thought about 55's, I started to doubt.  Yes, they are only 5lbs apart, like every other incremental increase I've made, but every weight from 5-50 is on the top rack; 55-100 are on the bottom rack, and it's like I'm in a whole new world. 

I'm not a big guy, so what other guys can use for pinky curls might be my max.  I got some serious progress last spring (people noticed the results without me saying anything), then quit working out and atrophied a little.  I tried once over the summer and once in the fall to start again, but with little success.  As a result, I had to go back down a few increments on every exercise and then build back up again.

Somewhere in there I forgot how I got to that weight in the first place last spring: one week at a time.  I started low and breezed through almost a month before it started actually getting difficult.  For one, being small, I doubted how much I could do.  Most of that was a building up process, and I got my muscles used to increasing the weight.  This time, provided I don't give up again, I could not just meet but exceed what I had done this time last year.

My first year of playing little league, I never once swung the bat during a game.  At some point in time, I became afraid of striking out (mostly afraid of swinging at something that wouldn't be a strike if I hadn't swung).  I knew that if i just held on and didn't swing, I might just get walked, and I could be thankful for getting to first base.  Looking back, I realized that probably came from the year before, when I played on a soccer team where everyone dogged me.  Maybe someone would be nice to me once a week, but it was never the same person, and the next week they'd be dogging me as well.  I can see where my self esteem might have gone out.  And I believed them, too.

What happened was that I built a ceiling for myself, saying, "I'll never get above this."  We all do this:

  • I'll never be able to stop drinking
  • I'll never have a job with real responsibility
  • I'll never beat cancer
  • I'll never have full control over my mind
In these moments is where God shines the brightest, where we have given up on everything else we've tried to do.

7And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
 8For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
 9And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
 10Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

-- II Corinthians 12:7-10.

The trick is to let Him do what He wants to.  I remember I had almost given up on teaching when the Lord spoke to me out of this passage, saying, "My grace is enough, and we're going to get through this together!"

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