Sunday, May 13, 2012

Spiritual Growth During a Fitness Quest

Well, it's been about 7 weeks since my last post.  To say that I've fallen off the wagon would be a huge understatement.  That's not to say i haven't been working out and pursuing fitness.  I have.  Just not as full-scale and hard core as I thought i might.  An honest self-assessment would have me less than happy with my dedication to lifting weights on a regular schedule.  Is there still some lingering depression from my Dad's death?  Probably.  More accurately, I would say its more of a case of lack of will and desire to spend the time pushing weights.  Pretty plain and simple. 

How can I get myself out of this malaise i find myself in?  I may have found an answer in an unexpected place.  More on that later.  First, I'll recap what I HAVE been doing (or perhaps more accurately, what i haven't been doing).

I've been setting the morning alarm at 6am almost every weekday, regardless of when i needed to be at work.  The hope was that I'd get my ass out of bed and go work out in the basement.  I have found that much harder to do than it used to be.  I attribute some of this to an increased loathing of having to go work.  Especially in the last two weeks.  After putting in my two-weeks notice at DISH Network, I really felt like my time there was unproductive and that made it much harder to want to go to work.  Not wanting to go, in turn, made it much harder to get out of bed in the morning.  I still managed to get up and work out over the last 7 weeks at least twice a week.  Not the 3-4 i was doing before my dad's passing.  But still pretty decent.  Better than nothing, at least.  With the turn in the weather, I've also been able to get out on my bike more over the last few weeks.  My standard ride has been from Chatfield State Park to Downtown Denver (Confluence Park).  A round trip of about 34 miles.  These rides have been awesome.  One of my goals at the beginning of the year was to do a charity ride of at least 50 miles.  I haven't entered one yet, and doubt i will.  However, I do plan on hitting the 50 mile mark on my rides by the end of August.  There are a couple of nice rides i can do from home that loop north or south using the C470 pathway to the South Platte trail and back.  I really want to start working on my climbing skills so that the big hills in the charity rides won't scare when i do decide to register for one.  So, all in all, I'm still doing some lifting and feel pretty fit (read: unflabby arms, tighter core) and have gotten the cardio and legs going with some real outdoor riding.  My biggest challenge for the summer will be finding time to ride.  With my work schedule at DISH i was able to use a day in the middle week to disappear for a couple hours without worrying about burdening Andi with the kids.  Now, I'll need to find time and a guilt-free psyche to allow me get out on the weekends. 

Now back to where i think i can find help with my "malaise" which i think has affected my workout pursuit.  With my Dad's death in February, I became a bit spiritually conflicted.  While I've always thought of myself as a Christian and I've believe in Christ and the Resurrection and God and the Trinity, etc., I've not been a very good Christian soldier.  I don't talk about my faith with anyone aside from my family and a few very select friends.  The conflict that I came to face was two-fold.  One: after seeing my dad so diminished in his final few days, it was hard to understand how a God could exist that would allow one of his children to suffer the way my dad did.    Two: my dad believed in God, but didn't really believe in the miracles of Jesus and the Resurrection.  He prayed fervently, but wasn't a believer in one of God's greatest achievements... the death and ensuing resurrection of His Son for us.  My dad did not believe he was going to heaven.  Knowing his beliefs (or lack thereof) has made it hard for me to cope with what must've been going through my father's mind in his last few hours of physical being. 

As a result of this conflict within, and in an effort to understand where my father was, I went to prayer.  After a couple of weeks, i found myself flipping through the radio stations on my drive to or from work and actually stopping on one of the two Christian radio stations on the air here in Denver.  One plays modern Christian music, the other is talk based.  These stops have eventually turned into destinations.  Places where i want to go.  Places where I'm happy to be.  The messages, for the most part, are positive, encouraging, empowering.  I have found them to be great places to start the day before work and end the day before walking into the house to see my loved-ones. 

Also, Andi and I have been making a concerted effort to get back in the habit of going to church.  The fellowship and message are incredibly powerful.  It's a fitting way to thank God for all that I have to actually go to church, get down on my knees and pray to His greatness.

A few weeks ago, I found myself in Barnes and Noble after one of my bike rides.  I was looking for a Caribbean travel magazine, yet found myself pulled to the religion section of the store.  I stared at the titles on the shelves for about 20 minutes.  One series of books really stood out to me because of the titles.  I settled on "The Case for Faith" by Lee Strobel.  The author has written several books, all titled "The Case for ...." (fill in the blank... Jesus, the Resurrection, God, etc).  Strobel, a self-professed former atheist, has a legal and journalism background and approaches the books as an attorney would approach a case.  He uses scholars as his legal experts and creates a case either for or against his theme.  I thought that with my dad being an attorney and always approaching things on a rational basis, this would be a book he could have related to.  I wish he would have read it.  The first chapter alone is worth the price of admission.  I would encourage anyone looking for a different take on the biggest questions regarding faith to read this book.  I plan on reading all of Strobel's books pertaining to religion.  They are well-thought out, thought provoking and honest. 

With this new spiritual awakening, I think i will have an easier time dragging myself out of bed.  Each day is a treasure.  Every day I'm alive should be reason enough to want to get out of bed and better myself, be it through physical or spiritual exercise.  I truly believe God gave me this new job to give me more time with my family and the things that really matter.  He has refocused me on the good things in life (which aren't really things). 

Needless to say, I do think my dad made it to heaven.  He was a good and honest man who knew he wasn't perfect.  If his pain and suffering helped lead me to where i am... to this painful, yet happy place, I believe my dad would have thought it worth it.  Because of that, I won't let his suffering go to waste.  I will be better. 

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