Monday, January 26, 2015


At church this Sunday, we sang an oldie but a goodie:

I will never be the same again.  I can never return.  I've closed the door.  I will walk the path. I'll run the race.  And I will never be the same again.

Suddenly, I found myself picturing a scene from the movie Divergent.  In this world of this story, society is grouped into five factions.  Each one focuses on the cultivation of a particular virtue, and the idea is that they work together to all make their city better as a whole.

Things are never simple.  In this society, when children reach the age of 16, they have to decide which Faction they want to belong to -- whether it's the one they've been raised in, or one that's completely different. And of course, it's a decision that cannot be changed.  They're forever committed. Their Faction becomes their family.  In fact, there's a saying in this society: "Faction before blood."

Tris, the heroine of this tale, decides to change her Faction from Abnegation (selflessness) to Dauntless (bravery).  In doing so, she faces a pretty intense initiation period; one in which not all the initiates will succeed.  The stakes are high too.  If they fail, initiates can not go back to their original Faction.  By the rules of this society, they'd be condemned to being one of the "Factionless." And kind of like in "The Biggest Loser," if you fall beneath the red line, you're out.

All of that is backstory to set up the scene.  Back in the dormitory after a rough day of training, Tris is sharing her concern about her ranking (second from the bottom) with her best friend Christina.

Tris - I'm never gonna make it.
Christina - Yes you will.
Tris - I'm the weakest one here
Christina - Then you'll be the most improved.
Tris - You're Candor, you're not supposed to lie.
Christina- I was Candor, and I'm not lying.
Al - If they cut me I think my parents would take me back.
Peter - No it doesn't work like that. Even if they wanted to, their faction wouldn't allow it.
Tris - Even if my parents would take me back, I wouldn't belong there anymore.

I can never return.  I've closed the door.

There are days when I struggle, (And days when I feel like I'm doing pretty awesome.)  But whether it's day when all the cylinders are firing, or a day when all I can do to keep from crying tears of frustration, this one thing I know... even if I could go back, I wouldn't.  I've been forever captured and changed by a love I will spend the rest of my life trying to imitate and understand.

As Four might say: "It's brave, and selfless, and smart, and kind, and honest."  It's also divergent. And my choice to follow it has irrevocably transformed my life.

I will walk the path.  I'll run the race.  And I will never be the same again.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Maxing Out

Like many others, I made some fitness goals and resolutions a few weeks ago for the new year.  Actually, I got a jumpstart on the whole "new year's resolution" idea and started my new routine a week early.  My chosen program:  Shaun T's Insanity Max 30.  It follows a high intensity interval training format, which basically means it's no joke.  But thankfully for me and my sketchy knees, there's a low-impact modifier for almost all of the moves.

For three weeks, I was content to follow the modifier track.  But inspired by my dreams of a flat stomach, killer triceps, and 8-pack abs, I decided it was time for me to make the jump.  To take the chance.  To max out and go high impact.

So halfway through last Saturday's routine, I decided to leave my modifying ways behind and do the regular, jumping, high-impact move along with the rest of Shaun T's crew.

And I promptly rolled my ankle and landed in a heap in the middle of my living room floor.


As I gathered myself back together and talked myself into finishing the routine, I had the thought: "How many times has this happened in other parts of my life?"  (For example: not just with push-ups, but with patience?)  I try to take things up a notch and be a bit better, only to fall in a inglorious heap of good intentions, missed marks, and flubbed opportunities.

It's humbling to realize you're not ready for the high impact stuff.  But it takes away the sting to know that keeping up with the athletes on the screen isn't the point.  (Though, admittedly a hard one to always accept when you're competitive like I am.)

The point is to go as hard as you can, to take a break when you need it, and then to get back up and get in there and focus on making yourself stronger.  As Shaun T would say, "You are simply working on your personal best.  There is no shame in stopping at your max."

Whether in my workout, or in life, the point is to do the best I can.  Not to measure up to the superstars (or to the unattainable), but just to do my best.  And I won't discover what that point is until I push it and take that chance.

Surprisingly, this workout is teaching me to give myself a bit more grace; to not be afraid or ashamed of maxing out.  But to find that point (and perhaps fall down), then gather myself, get back up, and do better next time.

No shame.  Imua.  Moving forward and being better than I was before.


P.S. - I want to mention that for a few days after my embarrassing fall, I walked with a bit of a limp.  Falling hurt!  But it made me think that sometimes a limp can be a badge of honor.  Because it means you tried.  You reached.  And maybe it didn't work out the way you planned.  But you'll heal, and you can try it again.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

One Little Word: Imua

In late December, I was minding my own business and watching the latest episode of The Biggest Loser.  The final five contestants left "The Ranch" to go to Kauai, Hawaii.  When they were officially welcomed by Alison Sweeney, the host, she said:

"Aloha.  Welcome to the island of Kauai. Elite athletes from every corner of the earth head here to battle the elements and push themselves in some of the greatest physical challenges on earth.  It's traditional in Hawaii to wish people before a sporting event Imua, which means "move forward". So for all of you, keep up the good work. Imua everyone.  Good luck.  I'll see you soon."

And it was like a little bit of lightning struck my brain.  I immediately knew I had my next "One Little Word."  Because it was right around this time when I truly felt like I was emerging from a fog. It's a surreal feeling actually -- to finally get enough distance from something to have some perspective.

That sounded vague.  Here's what I mean.

I didn't really realize how much of a toll my spirit had taken over the past two years until I started settling back into my house and trying to move forward.  Instead of immediately springing into my dreams and ambitions, I feel like I've wasted the past two months! (maybe more.)  But God has been speaking to me; healing cracks and hurts I didn't know I had, and revealing areas in which I need to repent and change.  That's never comfortable, but at the same time, I'm also grateful to have my eyes opened.

Soon after finding the word imua, I read Philippians 3:12-14 from the Message translation.  It literally shouted out to my heart.

"I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back."

That's my prayer.  To go ever toward Jesus, and not turn back.

Taking a moment to look back on my previous words -- Tenacity, (2010) Generosity. (2011) Fast. (2012) Servanthood.(2013-2014) -- I can see how meditating on each one has helped me to learn and grow.

I really have a special feeling about this one though.

Like I said... I'm emerging from my fog, reconnecting to my life, and looking forward to my year of  moving forward.