Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Concerning Watches, Long Socks and The Life of Faith

I hate feeling naked. It is easily the most uncomfortable thing in my existence. Now, this can come about in a number of different ways but the first thing that comes to mind watch. I HATE walking around without my watch on. Is it because I like to keep track of time? Sure. Is it because I look like a crazy person when I check my wrist every 3 minutes? Probably. Whatever the symptoms may be, being with out my watch drives me crazy and makes me feel “naked” regardless of how many layers of clothing I am wearing. I just don't feel right with out it. 

I am similarly crazy in my Crossfit life. 

Within a month of moving to the Rochester area (loosely defined, I agree), I became known at my new Crossfit place of residence as “the long socks, black shorts and bandana” guy. Some of my new friends even toyed with dressing up as me for Halloween that year. You see these things are basically ever present components of what could be called my “Crossfit Uniform.” Footwear changes with the needs of the workout and shirts are especially fun with which to be anything but habitual. But when you are dealing with Blake and Crossfit three things tend to stay the same. Bandana head band, black shorts and long socks. 

In my defense, The long socks serve a purpose of protecting my shins from most potential injuries. I cannot count the number of times long socks have saved me from box jump misses and bar rubs from high rep deadlifts and Olympic lifts gone astray . The head band/ bandana also serves a very practical purpose. Specifically, it allows me to maintain my sense of sight during workouts despite sweating in a fashion that can really only be described as torrential. The black shorts? What can I say. Black is hardcore, awesome and reeks of impending destromination of any and all challenges to come. Oh, and I like the way I look in said shorts. But in the end, there are plenty of people who face these two particular hazards of the Crossfitter's world without bandanas and long socks. So the question is why?

The answer here is the same as it is with my watch conundrum. I feel naked without them. Neither of these things provides any ounce of assistance to me, except maybe the sweat band which has been keeping my eyes sweat free since church camp circa 1995. In a way they are simply just part of who I see myself to be. For whatever reason, good, bad or starking raving ludicrous, they give me confidence or at the very least free me from thinking too hard about things. A case could probably be made that I don’t think about my socks and head band unless they aren’t there. It would appear in that case to be a self inflicted crazy. But is it? 

Crash Davis has a word or two about this. “If you believe you're playing well because you're getting laid, or because you're not getting laid, or because you wear women's underwear, then you *are*! “ (Bull Durham, 1988. If you haven't seen this movie. What are you doing with your life?” If you think something is helping, then you are. If the absence of something seems like it is making you less of you you really are, then it probably is. 
 That's how I feel about my watch. About my socks and bandana and how everyone should feel about black shorts. But something really important struck home with me as 2012 waned and 2013 approached. There was very little about my life of faith, my walk of discipleship, that, if missing, made me feel the same way. 

There is a very simple reason for this. I am terribly inconsistent in my religious practice. What I believe and what I do are often maddeningly incongruous. The reason I feel naked when I forget to put my watch on is because it has been a consistent part of my left wrist for about 5 years now. The reason I don't feel right when I forget long socks or a bandana is because that has been apart of my crossfitting attire pretty much since I started 2+ years ago. What I have realized is, despite being a pastor (newsflash, we are people too) I seem to not notice that my faith's roll in my life is diminishing until it is tremendously noticeable. This usually means I screw up in a huge way. 

So as 2012 closed and 2013 was preparing to be born, I prepared to preach a sermon on Colossians 3:12-17. And I was floored. God Is good at that after all. Here is the text from one of Paul's greatest letters:

“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

What Paul was telling the church at Colossae, me as I prepared for that sermon and really all of us, is that our faith should be as omnipresent as the very clothing we wear. It is the watch, the bandana and the headband of our lives. Notice, I do not say of our spiritual lives. I do so for a very good reason. Compartmentalizing our lives into the spiritual and the non spiritual is absolutely impossible. In fact doing so is exactly what I think has gotten me into trouble throughout my 31 years on this earth. I don't care if I don’t have my watch on when I work out. And I don't worry if I don’t have a bandana on when I am working at church. Similarly, I must confess that I have been less than concerned when I do not walk around with compassion, humility and meekness. When I do not bind everything together with deep and abiding love. When I put my desires before my commitment to live as God would have me live. 

My goal in this new year, is to daily clothe myelf with Christ. To daily wear compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. Oh good Lord, I am bad at patience. To bear with others and to forgive. And above all things to bind it together with love. My prayer and my sure hope is that in doing this, I will sooner than later feel naked when I am NOT doing these things. I want to feel WRONG and troubled in my spirit when I am pursuing anything but what God wants from me. Right now, I must confess and repent, I barely notice.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner. Strengthen me to daily clothe myself with you and your Holy Spirit. May people who want to be me for Halloween have to do the same.

And, if you have time,may all people come to realize the power of high socks, bandanas and black shorts.

Now where did I put that watch?

Peace out people. Amen.