Thursday, November 15, 2007

Varied Yet Complete

I have enjoyed exercising for the last thirty years, ever since one of my neighbors, Mr. O’Bannon, invited me to start running with him a few mornings a week when I was fifteen. I got hooked. I’ve run, cycled, done aerobics, walked, practiced martial arts, strength trained with weights and without weights, even tried yoga. Exercise is just one of those things I find satisfying.

Every once in a while I get bored and change my routine. About a year ago I stumbled upon “Crossfit,” a strength and conditioning program that is rapidly gaining a cult following. I was immediately struck by the philosophy of the program, which states that “Our specialty is not specializing.” Crossfit is designed to “elicit as broad an adaptational response as possible.” Its ideal is to “train for any contingency” and develop a fitness that is “varied yet complete.” Consequently, individual workouts may include running, rowing, weight-lifting, calisthenics, swimming, or plyometrics. Each workout is varied, and workouts only repeat themselves about once a month. You literally can never get in a rut in this program.

I am intrigued by the application of this philosophy for life in general and for the Christian life in particular. It is so easy to get into ruts, to do the same things over and over again and wonder why we become bored and lackadaisical. As the old saying goes, the only difference between a rut and a grave is the length. This is true of people, relationships, marriages, families, and churches.

Here are some ad hoc suggestions for getting out of your routine occasionally and thereby your “adaptational response” to life. These may seem small and insignificant, but they lay the groundwork for bigger changes.

§ Drive a different route to work a few times a week.

§ Sit in a different pew in church each week for a while.

§ If you are a saver, treat yourself to a few luxuries. If you are a spender, put yourself on a stricter budget to reach a short-term savings goal.

§ If you read the Bible regularly (good for you!), listen to it on tape instead. If you don’t read the Bible regularly, do WHCC’s reading plan for a month.

§ If you read mostly fiction, read a few non-fiction books, and vice-versa. If you watch a lot of TV, scale it down for a month and replace it with music, the web, or something similarly relaxing.

§ If you eat dinner as a family (good for you!), change rooms or seating places.

§ If you are a late night person, go to bed early a few times a week, and vice-versa.

§ Husbands and wives, sweep your honey off his/her feet with a special treat, occasion or trip.

Friends, get out of your ruts. Routines are necessary and inevitable. Habits provide a framework and foundation for our life. But they become ruts when they devolve into strait-jackets for our creativity and hindrances to our capability of finding joy and vitality in life. Life is too short and too valuable not to be fully alive. Or as the psalmist says, “This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it”


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