So I have a passion for playing certain sports; ultimate frisbee, frisbee golf, I like to run, and the sport which I am the least accomplished in; basketball. Now there happens to be several guys that meet at the high school gym, near my house, every Tuesday and Thursday morning, so this is good right?
I went today, and as usual I played with the passion and, sometimes anger, of a man seeking to find something he lost and thought was promised to him forever. No doubt a few minutes before the last game was to end, I go up for a rebound and landed WAY wrong on my already weak right ankle. I thrashed around like my 4 year old in Walmart. I was equally angry as I was injured. I knew I had a few minutes of endorphins and adrenaline to walk to my car, and into my house, so I grabbed my stuff and quickly limped out of the gym.
After getting home and partially ready for work, I was lying on my bedroom floor doing a slightly quieted version of the man-scream – you know the one: it’s where in the western movies, the guy’s getting the bullet pulled out of his spleen and the “doc” pours whiskey on the wound first? That one.
I’m lying there, thinking of all the ways, this messes with my plans for the next week or more, and then the reality of how many times I’ve been in a situation similar to this, and how I really can’t afford to do this too many more times if I’m to maintain any sort of athletic prowess (I know that word is a big stretch for me, but give me a break here, you probably couldn’t fit into the pants you wore in high school either).
Either way, I’m on the floor, full of anger mixed with pain and I’m suddenly overwhelmed with how much I’m trying to hold to some idea of what my body should be. My body – a temporary shell of flesh and bone that is in constant decay. I’m more upset and angry about a disturbance in my agenda to be faster or stronger than I was last month, than I am upset about… anything. I saw, in that moment, just how petty and thin the argument is to hold onto those volatile emotions.
A Bible passage that comes to mind is found in Psalm 144 verse 4; “For they (mortals) are like a breath of air; their days are like a passing shadow.” I think it’s easy for us to fall into patterns where we put an incredible amount of negative energy and stress into things that are fleeting and only here for a season, be it our bodies, bad relationships, destructive patterns and habits. These come in all shapes and sizes. For me, I can get too attached to being my version of “awesome” in some random sport, but for others, exercise might be a catalyst to breaking other self-imposed health issues.
If you’re a reader of the Bible, you might be familiar with the passage that instructs that whatever you do, do with all of your might (paraphrased of course). HOWEVER, that same Book paints a picture of a life that, when it’s in touch with God, will have peace and joy, and love and self control. These two ideas of pursuit and peace are best when mixed together and balanced. These are attitudes and practices that will echo from our lives into our kids’ lives and possibly beyond: not if you can hit a 12 ft jumper at will. Not that I’m giving up on that entirely, but I did feel a tipping point this morning on how unbalanced my approach can be to things like that.
What are those for you? To what are you holding on too tightly?