The title probably garnered your attention, but this may not be what you expect.
After reading Henry Rollin’s infamous chronicle of The Iron, I became a little interested in my relationship with it as well.
The Iron is a nickname us weightlifters and powerlifters call the weights that we lift. There’s something special with it, we understand that nothing good or beneficial for us ever comes easy. The body and mind can only grow through resistance, what doesn’t kill you leaves a scar, and scar tissue whether physical, mental, or emotional is always stronger, because it is created out of defiance of giving up.
After every single piece of pain, torment, sadness, and loss, there’s growth in strength. Strength isn’t defined as what you can do or dish out, it’s defined as what you can take and keep moving forward.
I have a very good friend, I feel that he will become a lifelong friend, but right now he’s 14, unfortunately his father has been out of his life for a few years and he was at my apartment and he expressed his discouragement at the situation. He’s been dealt an extraordinary amount of pain, but I told him something that might have surprised him. I said “You’re going to be a better father than your dad is, because you have experience firsthand with the absence of a father, when you have kids you will ensure that this never happens to them, ever. Your relationships with your other family members has been strengthened to compensate this void in your life. Through this pain, you have become stronger emotionally and mentally.” Thankfully though, he’s gained resilience and took it upon himself to connect back with his father, as I’m typing this he’s spending the week with him.
I slowly began to understand that pain isn’t the enemy, pain is just a challenge for us to become stronger people. Obviously I’m not saying we should all become gluttons for pain, but I’m suggesting that we should just no longer fear it. The questions are, what wills me to lift the weight? What pushes me to break through the barriers that the little voice in my head tells me that I cannot overcome?
In September 2010, I heard a sermon from Christopher Helms at Gracepointe Church in the South Hills of Pittsburgh on the subject of motivation, it was primarily used as a way to overcome the “mondays” and push people who hate their jobs to think more positively.
Colossians 3:23 was the pinnacle verse; “Whatever you do, work heartily,(BB) as for the Lord and not for men,”
This made me think much differently about my perspective on playing college football as well as the time that I spend in the gym. I normally lift by myself, I have headphones in and I don’t bother anyone else and they don’t bother me, seems perfect to incorporate a spiritual intercession with my workout. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Let me give you a small example.
I was doing a fast a few weeks ago and my body was already very weak because of the lack of food. I’m not a person who chooses to eat food because it taste’s good, I eat it to fuel my growth. However, I couldn’t take a day off, because my opponents on the football field aren’t taking a day off. Now, when I walked into the gym I felt the Holy Spirit over me. I felt my flesh and my physical body at the submission of my will and His as well. I always like to say that “He is my potter, and I am His clay.” This is used as my perspective on how God will choose to form me into the person He intends, and I’m not talking about just the physical.
Weightlifting isn’t just a physical process, however there are some that use it to just improve their physical appearance through their insecurity and vanity. They don’t even truly know themselves, they think that the perception of those that view them is what defines them as who they are. Despite the beautification of their body, their personality is crumbling. It’s becoming light as a feather, unable to withstand even the lightest breeze of adversity. Weightlifting to me is more of a spiritual and mental process, but on the surface it’s easy to miss that. I’ve had a little depression, haven’t told many people, but the best remedy, the best time of my day was when it was just me, God and the Iron. It’s not because of the “sensation” that an immature Arnold Schwarzenegger talked about in pumping Iron. It’s because when I’m there, God makes my flesh submit every single day. That’s when it occurred to me, my relationship isn’t with the Iron, it’s with God, the Iron is simply a tool that He uses to strengthen me. He’s given me a backbone, He’s taught to spearhead a problem and not avoid it, He’s taught me to not care about what other depraved people think about me, the only judgement I concern myself with is God’s.
“Nosce te ipsum” It’s latin for “Know Thyself,” God has taught me lessons that allow me to know myself that much more. By knowing yourself and knowing that your strength is a balance of physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional, you’ll find that you already have strength, you just need to dig deep and find it. The hottest fires make the hardest steel, the purest diamonds are only made from the heaviest stress. I ask God to grant me with the strength He intends for me to have and I thank Him that I’m already stronger today than yesterday.