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Pain Sharing

Spiritual Training Cycle: Foundation (wk. 3/13)

Those of us who are part of the texting group joke about it periodically. And . . . sometimes at some level we may actually be somewhat serious about it.

I think it started after a particularly brutal 6:30 Friday night WOD (Workout Of the Day).

I should have known what was coming

My friend Jerry had just completed Friday’s 5:30 WOD. He smiled and shook his sweat-drenched head at me as he headed out and I warmed up for the 6:30 class. By the time 7:30 rolled around, I knew why he was shaking his sweat-drenched head at me an hour earlier.

At our box’s community WOD the next morning, I accused Jerry of being a poor friend: instead of shaking his head last night, he should have texted me a warning ahead of time that there was a brutal WOD coming up. Jerry should have done a little pain sharing!

We don’t really mean it (or maybe we wish we did) Over time, our “pain sharing” texting group has expanded to include several other people. We never actually send out a “pain sharing” text but letting one another know that we should has become a simple way to humorously bond together around tough WODs.

While this group is not serious about skipping the tough workouts, there is a principle here that is thousands of years old: We need one another to make it through tough things. Solomon, known as the wisest person who ever lived, shared as much when he wrote down this insight in the fourth chapter of Ecclesiastes almost a thousand years before Jesus was born.

Solomon would have liked CrossFit Ecclesiastes captures Solomon’s wisdom after a lifetime of thinking deeply about people and God. At times Ecclesiastes can be challenging to understand (probably because Solomon is much wiser than we are!), but this stanza in chapter four is pretty straightforward: “Two are better than one.” “If one falls, the other can pick him up.” “Two can stay warm in the cold.” “Two can withstand what one can’t.” In CrossFit words: working out with others helps bring out your best. Three millennium ago, Solomon saw that God wired us for community: we are at our best when we depend on one another.

When I first started doing CrossFit, I didn’t get this principle. I had grown up a bit of a gym rat and was always comparing myself to those around me who were bigger/faster/stronger. Rather than having others around me who supported me, I bought into the mindset of feeling better by making other athletes feel worse.

There’s an ancient reason why a good community makes for better athletes Then I joined a good box. And I saw how people encouraged one another. I saw how coaches helped athletes modify workouts that were too tough—for now. I saw how no one put their equipment away until everyone was done with their workout. I saw how we all celebrated when one of us achieved something we had never achieved before.

At a Hope Project community event last fall, Trey Steele articulated this principle when he shared, “You should never join a gym because of the equipment. You should join because of the people.”

What I have come to understand is this: the demonstration of healthy community at a good CrossFit gym is really a reflection of Solomon’s age-old spiritual wisdom. We might call this “The Friendship Principle” – you and I are wired to be at our best when we work with others.

Questions for Reflection:

Why do you think Solomon’s “Friendship Principle” is so important?

Who do you know who does a really good job of this? How do they do so?

How can you be more purposeful about the Friendship Principle with those around you?

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