Stone is an incredibly competitive soul. Testosterone races wildly through his veins.
I couldn’t be less competitive.
I am happy to step aside and allow someone to pass me.
If there is a “winner,” … then there is also a “loser.”
If the loser was trying to win, he will be disappointed.
I know what it is like to give it your all … and come up short.
So, I’d just assume have no part in helping teach some grand life lesson
that involves the phrase “Losing is a part of life.”
Thank you, but some.body else can take that role.
Thus, in any activity even remotely competitive …
like a race, competition
or even the attempt to be at the first of the line
at a covered dish dinner or group picnic,
I bow out and let others go first.
I’d rather go hungry or be last,
than crush a spirit.
Stone could.not grasp this aspect of my personality.
But, in a conversation not so long ago,
it was neat to be able to prove my own point
by using his.
While at a recent biking event in April, I found myself in a conversation about drafting. Drafting on a bike is not extremely different from drafting in Nascar racing or on the interstate as you travel. If you tuck yourself behind another vehicle, they will cut through the air and allow you to travel with greater ease. Since wind resistance is lightened, you use less energy … whether it be gasoline to move your car or personal body power to pedal your bike.
I don’t like to draft on a bike. It requires a huge amount of mental attention as your front wheel is tucked right up close to the lead bicycle. You can easily bump that tire and throw yourself into the road or across the shoulder. You must be focused on the person in front of you. If they dodge a pothole, you must be ready to split-second dodge the same. If you have someone drafting behind you, the complexity of this equation is multiplied. And you are tied to their speed. They may pull you along at a speed that is greater than you would prefer … which is GREAT if you’re racing … but I don’t “race,” I “ride.”
Can you see that there is no enjoying the beautiful scenery on your ride? Can you see that relaxing is out of the question? And if your energy output is reduced, then so is gaining strength. These things are polar opposite of what I have come to enjoy about riding.
Not so long ago, I found myself trying to explain this concept to Stone. We had been bantering back and forth …. me trying to make my point while he tried to make his. “Why would I want to go faster on my bike so that I FINISH my ride … my FUN with greater speed? And why would I want to use less energy? This would mean that I build less muscle and am weakened rather than strengthened by the ride. Wouldn’t this be the same as going to the gym and intentionally choosing to use 5-10 lbs less per rep? How is that helpful in building muscle and endurance?”
He countered, “Have you ever watched the Tour de France? All the cyclists draft as a team. They are pro.FESSIONALS!”
Ahhh … there it is! He handed me my point.
“Exactly,” I said, “You have made my point. They are professionals that are out to W.I.N. I am not. When I am riding, I’m not out to win, I am out to enjoy myself, get.stronger and build endurance. So, drafting is counter-productive to my goal.”
Which is when he changed the subject.
When I see muscles flex, I see determination, dedication and grit.
I know that it takes a great deal of resolve to faithfully
hit the streets, make the gym or ride the roads.
It takes commitment to consistently carve time out of a busy life
to flex, stretch and lift.
I know that the outward physical appearance is a reflection of
an inward self-discipline
to be loyal
and do the hard thing.And so,
I do not draft on a bicycle.
If I’m going to take the time dress out, stretch and ride my bike,
I’m not going to cut myself short by letting someone else
lighten the blow or break the resistance for me.
I want the whole ride.
I want to push through, work my muscles, sweat and pump.
I want to get off my bike knowing that I did my best to
get a little bit stronger.
This principle applies to our spiritual life, as well.
There are times when we choose to avoid a confrontation,
or put off doing the “hard thing”
because it requires too.much.work.
But, in doing the tough stuff … we train ourselves and condition our spiritual bodies
to be stronger, to have stamina and endure.
Paul made this point in Hebrews (12:1)
He said we are to run with endurance the race set before us.
And what better way to build my endurance, strength and stamina
than make the decision that I will not
intentionally prefer the easy, less resistant route?
There may be no outward manifestation of our inner, spiritual strength
as is evident in the muscular frame of an athlete,
but our spirit can certainly spot a spiritual giant in this weak, crumbling world.
May we all be challenged to
do the tough stuff …
confront the messes …
love the unlovable …
knowing that every movement and effort
helps us grow in spiritual strength, stamina and endurance
and helps us to run with endurance the race set before us.