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Barbells Are Fragile

Claaaannnggg. The sound rang out across the entire gym echoing off the walls. The experienced athletes cringed, waiting to see what fate awaited the rookie weightlifter. All eyes followed the coach as she graciously, yet expeditiously, made her way to the scene of the crime. The equipment in front of the athlete confirmed what she, and everyone else, suspected had happened. Anxiously, the rookie athlete watched as the coach picked the barbell up, surveyed it for damage, then carefully set it back on the ground. As she stood, she quietly, but firmly said to the wide-eyed athlete, “You don’t ever drop an empty barbell. Empty barbells are fragile.”

If you want to get your coach’s attention, drop an empty barbell. Here’s a tutorial on what not to do. I mean, even from shin height, you’ll have a coach at your station faster than when you PR. It’s a learning process for new athletes and we get it. They see these videos of people lifting incredible loads with barbells. They see the barbell bend at the strongman competitions, yet never break. Well, almost never. They watch other athletes in the gym on deadlift day finish their final rep and feel the floor shake as their barbell drops to the ground. But what they don’t yet realize is the barbell by itself is fragile. What seems like a simple piece of steel is actually quite complex. Inside the collars, or the ends of the barbell, are bearings – small balls or needles that allow the barbell to spin. When you load a barbell with weight, it’s the weight that ultimately receives the force of a drop, preserving the barbell from severe damage. Empty barbells must bear the force of the fall directly, and over time they will simply lose their effectiveness or break altogether. A barbell is strongest when it is connected to an external load. That’s where it becomes most powerful.

In life, you’re essentially an empty barbell. You’re fragile. I know we all think we’re tough and can handle what life throws at us, but truth be told, it only takes one or two “bumps” in the road to reveal just how fragile we really are. And I don’t mean physically, I’m talking emotionally and mentally. We’re all one crisis away from breaking. Next thing you know, we’re yelling at our kids, fighting with our spouse, distracting ourselves on social media, drinking one more glass of wine, you name it. These are all coping mechanisms we turn to when life shows just how fragile we really are. While they may bring temporary relief, they don’t provide the strength or power we need to live a purposeful and fulfilling life.

In Spiritual Fitness, we start with the power source. We ask the basic question, “Where does your help come from?” In other words, what’s the source? Until you tap into the right power source for your life, you’ll struggle forever. It’s true. And here’s a hint – it’s not your own power. You’ll constrain your life around your comfortability because if you stretch you know you might break. You’ll live by karma, in fear that something bad is lurking around the next corner. Fulfillment in life doesn’t come from your own power, it comes from the strength that only God can provide. When you load the barbell of your life with the strength of God, you’ll experience a power you’ve never known.

It all starts with three words – God help me. And then tell Him where you need help. Maybe you need help because you just became a home-school teacher while still trying to maintain a full-time job. Maybe you need help because you just can’t forgive that person for what they did to you. Or maybe you need God’s help to realize you are loved just the way you are. God’s power is not made perfect in your perfection, it’s made perfect in your weakness. But don’t wait on a catastrophe to call on the Creator. See for yourself just how much more satisfying life can be and how over time the things that used to get to you just don’t anymore. The journey of Spiritual Fitness begins with these three words – God help me.

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