“Only a small crack…But cracks make caves collapse.” – Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Journey through life long enough and you’re bound to realize we all have small cracks. While most of us, especially as athletes, appear to the world as fit, fast, and fearless, deep down we are fragile. In other words, we all have breaking points. I see them in the gym. Whether it’s red lining in a WOD, mentally defeating yourself before a heavy lift, or emotionally giving up, the pursuit of fitness reveals small cracks. Why? Because under pressure, the weakest points become the biggest issues. And the higher your level of performance, the more likely you are to encounter and deal with breaking points. Let’s look at some strategies for breaking through the breaking points of life.
When I’m teaching an athlete a lift for the first time, I have a checklist of mechanical movements I run through. These are known as points of performance. Take the deadlift for example. I want an athlete to maintain their lumbar spine by activating their back and engaging their lats. I want them to take the slack out of the barbell and be 99% loaded just before the lift. And I want them to push the floor away from the barbell. Points of performance will help me see potential small cracks, but only when the athlete is under load. When I see their back arch or hear the sound of the barbell as they yank it off the ground, we’ll work together to lighten the load and dial in the points of performance. Think of them as lead indicators of identifying small cracks.
In pursuit of shalom in our spiritual lives, we have points of performance as well. The mechanics of a thriving relationship with God include an active prayer life, Scripture reading, growth in community, and high self-awareness, just to name a few. Mechanics are your connection points to God. And they also have the capacity to reveal small cracks when you face the heavy loads of life. When things like stress or anxiety or fear or major life events start to erode your connection to God, think of those as small cracks. Way before you reach a breaking point and end up lashing out, hiding out, or soothing yourself with a guilty pleasure, the change in your spiritual performance, or mechanics, is going to let you know something’s up. Life is beginning to disintegrate, and you need to do some self-examination to determine why. Spiritual mechanics keep you connected to God and also let you know when things are unraveling.
In today’s Scripture reading, you’ll find a very practical tip from God on how to shore up your small cracks – “Go back the way you came.” God’s wisdom to the prophet Elijah is just as applicable in becoming spiritually fit. When the train comes off the tracks, go back the way you came. Go back and recover intimacy with your spouse. Go back and apologize to your kids for yelling at them. Go back and restore the boundaries that keep you vibrant and flourishing. Let God have your burdens, your fears, your anxious thoughts and keep the small cracks from becoming breaking points.
Questions for Reflection:
Have you been able to observe how a change in the mechanics of your spiritual life indicates a small crack could become a breaking point? If so, share an example.
God told Elijah to go back the way he came. What is God calling you to go back to?