The following is a guest post, written by Greg Shields. Thank you, Greg, for your leadership.
Not too long ago, I had to stop at the grocery store on my way home from work to get dog food. While briskly walking toward to the pet food section, I failed to notice just how busy the store was. I grabbed two large bags of dog food, and in true man-style (no cart), lumbered back to the front cradling a bag in each arm. The store must have been short staffed that evening because there were only two registers open and each lane was 8-10 customers deep. And much to my chagrin, I realized I had come to likely the only remaining store in town not yet equipped with a self-checkout lane. Oh well, I’ll wait, I told myself. While standing there wishing I wasn’t holding 50 lbs. of dog food, I did a quick survey of the shopping carts ahead of me to get an idea of how long I would have to wait. Full, full, half-full, mostly full, kinda full, full, not-so-full, and then me. Glancing over at the other lane, conditions didn’t look any better. It was then that I noticed in the adjacent line, a guy holding a gallon of milk in one hand, and a basket containing a few items in the other. From the clothes he was wearing, he also looked to be on his way home from work. He looked to be no happier about the situation than I was. We shared a glance and rolled his eyes at me, as if to say, “This is ridiculous.” I just kind of nodded back as if to say I understood. And it was ridiculous. There we were, two guys just trying to get home from work with a few groceries that would take no more than a minute to scan and pay for. We were both tired and frustrated. It’s safe to say we both felt the same way about the circumstances, but responded to them differently.
The line continued to move at a snail’s pace. I had been holding those bags for several minutes and my arms and shoulders were starting to burn. I was getting uncomfortable, so I decided to turn that moment of misfortune into a little physical challenge. In my mind, I recalled an F3 workout where I had to stand in place holding a sandbag while my partner ran the length of a field and did some burpees, then ran back. Sounds stupid, but it took my mind off the lactic acid accumulating in my upper limbs for a moment. To my left, the guy in the other lane was becoming visibly more aggravated and began verbalizing his frustrations to the people in front of him. “Can they not just open up another register? I just have a few things,” he said. I think he was subtly asking those in front of him to allow him to go ahead of them since he only had a few items. When nobody offered, he huffed, puffed, and pouted like a bratty child who’d been told he couldn’t play his tablet at the dinner table. He sat his gallon of milk and the basket on the ground by his feet, stood up and crossed his arms. This guy needs a burpee or twelve, I thought. But truthfully, this grown man losing his composure over having to stand at the grocery store was only displaying outwardly what I was feeling inwardly. Seeing the physical manifestation of my own compulsions caused me to feel shame. I made a decision in that moment that it wasn’t my job to figure out why the store was under staffed. What difference would it make? My job was to stand there, hold those bags of dog food, and understand that I had no more right to be at the front of that line than anybody else. It was my job to remain calm when the circumstances sucked. It was my job to set the example of what it means to not be a jerk just because I’m uncomfortable.
Some of us may have joined F3 to get in better shape. Some of us came because our friends wouldn’t shut up about it. On the other hand, some of us may have come expecting F3 to fix our brokenness, or give us strength to overcome addictions, marital problems, or deal with whatever demons we’re silently fighting. I’ve probably spent time in both of those categories at one time or another over the years. While I believe there is a place for F3 roots to grow under all those trees, the truth is F3 alone cannot do that, nor can CrossFit boxes, your golf buddies, or any other gathering of your choosing. Only faith in the one true God through the death and resurrection of his son Jesus has the power to move those mountains.
However, F3 does provide us with something that we cannot get in most other aspects of living in the most privileged nation in the world. F3 trains our bodies to be uncomfortable. You see, no matter how spiritually grounded we might be, we all seek, and thrive under conditions of physical comfort. If you don’t believe me, turn off the A/C in your house for a day or two this July and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Our flesh is weak, and because of that, physical discomfort can cause our outward actions to completely obscure the Spirit of Him that lives within us. If we allow that, what good are we?
Yes, we come to F3 and do incredibly hard, stupid things. We come out when it’s freezing, raining, or humid, and leave dirty, cold, and wet. But underneath the surface of that, something bigger is happening. An F3 man trains not to pout, gripe, or throw a temper tantrum when he’s made to wait. An F3 man understands that he’s not entitled to any benefit or gain he hasn’t earned. An F3 man trains to not ruin his witness when he’s hot, cold, or exhausted. An F3 man trains to maintain his composure, even when he’s physically uncomfortable.
I will leave you with this, seek the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself. And while you’re doing that, train yourselves to be uncomfortable, my friends.