Do you ever feel like life is trying to teach you a lesson? I’m in the midst of one of those moments. It’s a time where there is a recurring theme in multiple areas of my life, and it’s one that I thought was worth sharing.
The lesson first surfaced in CrossFit about a week ago. On Sunday, I was working on high hang cleans from blocks (first time trying that). My technique of cleaning from blocks needed a bit of work, so I asked Matt to take a video of some of my cleans so that I could actually see what I was doing each time and visualize the corrections that I needed to make. We were working up in weight each time I successfully completed a clean plus a front squat. At some point, I asked Matt how much weight was on the bar (the plates at RNSC are in kg, not lbs, so it wasn’t as easy to know how much weight was on the bar each time). He almost told me, but then decided not to, which I think was the right thing to do. I know my maxes on my lifts. When I realize I am nearing them (or heaven forbid, above them), I lose confidence. Even if it’s a weight I’ve hit before, I find myself wondering whether it was just a fluke last time. What if I can’t do it again? My attitude completely changes.
There came a time where I got to a weight where I failed a rep. I didn’t actually know how much weight was on the bar, but it felt heavy, and I assumed I was near or above my one rep max. When I am near my limit, I find that I stop giving full effort. When executing the lift feels pretty difficult, I tend to give up in the middle. Fighting for reps and giving max effort is something I struggle with. I think that maybe it’s easier in some ways to give half-hearted effort and fail, then it is to lay it all on the line and then fail. In the former, I think it’s easier not to internalize the failure because you know you didn’t give it your all. In the latter, you just have to accept that it is beyond your ability to do at that point. I failed the first rep. I laughed and had a smile afterward (another habit I have when working to failure in training) and tried to shake it off. I got back to the bar for another attempt and was trying to convince myself that just because I failed the first time didn’t mean I couldn’t do it. I made a second attempt – same outcome. My facial expression and body language were that of frustration and defeat. Matt reassured me that the bar was high enough for me to finish the lift, I just had to commit to the rep and get under the bar.
I realized that I had started the first two attempts with an intention to TRY. I gave partial effort, but wasn’t fully committed to the lift when I started. So, for the third attempt, I told myself that I was going to finish this lift, and I didn’t care how ugly or difficult it was. I set an intention of complete commitment to the lift before I started. I even visualized myself successfully (but not effortlessly) performing the lift. Perhaps the outcome would still be failure, but I would do so knowing that I gave it my all. In watching the video later, I feel like my demeanor was completely different on that third attempt. The expression on my face is much more serious than it was in the first two attempts. And guess what? I was successful in completing the lift (which was 115 lbs, a new PR for high hang clean for me). Now I’m not suggesting that by simply setting the intention to be successful, you can do anything. Obviously, there is a physical limit for me and for everyone else, and no amount of mental coaching is going to change the fact that it is beyond my physical abilities. However, that limit might be a lot higher than I thought it was. The video of my three attempts is here.
The second arena of life this applies to is relationships. I recently read this article about dating from the Matt Walsh blog. Although it’s directed toward guys, I think it’s just as applicable to women. Although I think it’s worth the read, I think it can be summed up by this excerpt: When did men become so afraid to make a commitment, to take the lead, to say what they want, to make long term plans, to set goals, to pursue, to talk about the future?
Here it is again – that notion of beginning something with intention and commitment, but this time with regard to dating and relationships. I’ve found myself in those “we’re hanging out,” nebulous dating situations repeatedly. I don’t know where I stand with the other person. I don’t know what the other person wants. There have been more times than I can count where I am out with a guy and I don’t even know if it’s a date or not. And to top it all off, I’m afraid to have a conversation about it out of fear that I’ll be perceived as overly demanding or getting too serious too soon. It’s not wholly the guy’s fault because I tolerate it. I say yes to, “let’s go get a drink” or “hanging out” together at some group event. I don’t have those conversations when the terms of our relationship are unclear or non-existent. Instead, I just end up bewildered and disappointed, trying to go with the flow and hoping that at some point, my relationship with this person will turn into what I am actually seeking, which is something clear, convicted, and purpose-driven. So, I am also realizing that just like I need to set my intentions and commit to full effort before a lift, I need to do the same in my dating life. I can’t just walk up to a barbell without any sense of what I’m going to do or what I want the outcome to be and expect to be successful, but I also can’t give up in the middle because things are no longer effortless.
Finally, I missed church this weekend because I was on a camping trip. So when I got home yesterday, I watched a sermon from last year at Elevation Church that is one of my favorites, “Don’t Stop on 6.” The scripture is based on the battle of Jericho written in Joshua 6. The Lord says to Joshua that He has delivered the city of Jericho into his hands, but that he and his army must march around the city every day for six days with seven priests carrying the ark. On the seventh day, the Lord says to Joshua that the army is to march around Jericho seven times, blowing trumpets, and then with a shout from the people and a long blast from the trumpet, the wall of the city will collapse and the army will take Jericho.
Pastor Steven delivers the sermon exceedingly better than any summary I could write about it, but ultimately, it’s about not stopping short of the promises of God just because you don’t see progress yet or haven’t gotten the outcome that you want. It’s about remaining faithful and obedient, about setting an intention and committing to see it through to the end, even if you don’t know how long it will take to receive God’s promise. The past couple of weeks, I’ve been struggling a lot emotionally and spiritually. I would pray about it and not feel any better. Nothing would change. I could only see one side of my problems with no idea as to how to resolve them. I felt abandoned and neglected by God, but tried to reaffirm my faith even when I felt doubt and anger creep in. Prayers are not like ordering pizza with delivery guaranteed in half an hour. And sometimes it is in the gap between the prayer and the answer that God seems to do the most work in me. And often times, the answer I was seeking is not the one that I receive, but the answer far surpasses the thing I was praying for. This past weekend gave me an entirely new perspective on the issues that had been plaguing me, and presented me with a solution I’d never even considered.
I’m sure it won’t be easy, but I am striving to be intentional and committed in everything I do moving forward, whether it be CrossFit, relationships, or faith.