The Missouri River bisects the state of South Dakota. So much so that the state is unofficially divided into what is called East River and West River. There is a different topography, landscape, culture and worldview on either side of the bank. And the mighty Missouri runs between it. The river ebbs and flows. It rises and shrinks. Right now it is rising and flowing. The banks are disappearing as sand bags appear. Just a few weeks ago, it looked gorgeous. Now it is flowing and flooding different areas. Last year in August the water was so high there was almost no shore line by the Snake River campground. By September, the shoreline was huge. Places we had once swam in deep water were now covered by the once unseen rocks we stepped on.
You truly cannot step into the same river twice. And this is what I muttered to myself coming out of the gym yesterday afternoon trying hard to keep my lunch in my stomach.
It had been a week and a half since I had lifted before leaving for a two week vacation. I stayed active. I did a lot of walking and hiking. I watched what I ate. Yet I hadn’t lifted for almost a month. And when I cam back to the gym yesterday, I had every full intention on taking it slowly and stepping back into my routine. I had a plan. Cut back on the number in my routine and use lighter weights. But then the lighter weight I was using felt too light. So I added more. And I increased the reps. I was flying. I was doing great. And then, on bicep curl #11 my gut told me to stop. I’ve learned from experience that if I don’t, my next step of reps will be over the porcelain idol.
I couldn’t go back to where I left. The river had changed.
But how many times do we do that in life? We come back home from college and feel like we’re forced to step right back into things. We’ve changed and now so has the river. Or even with churches. We ;change a church and it’s different. The river has changed. We can’t go into a new church expecting it to be the old one.
And what about faith itself. I’ve known people who’ve wandered away from their faith in Jesus Christ to come back years later. Things have changed. It’s not what it used to be.
What I’ve learned is that when we try to force it, when we try to make things the way the used to be, we feel like we’re going to puke (could have used “vomit” but “puke” just sounds cooler and not as childish as “blow chunks.”)
Seriously, sometimes we truly feel like we want to emotionally or even spiritually puke. When you work out until you puke, that’s not good. It’s not good to your body. When you haven’t lifted in a while and then puke, that’s even worse. I’ve learned the hard way that it takes even longer to get back into the routine.
moral of the visceral story? Don’t try to step back in at the same place but instead come back and a new pace. And don’t puke.