Aldersgate Men

Friday, July 28, 2006

A three legged stool...

I sometimes post at a fitness bulletin board, and I reached a milestone post--3,000. I thought you might be interested to read this, so I'm posting it here for your consumption/questions/consideration.

I want to write, at this point, about balance. I am seeking to build a three-legged stool. Those three legs will be my body, mind and soul.

Almost ten years ago, I set out to change my lifestyle. I was, at that time, a pack-a-day smoker who found getting up in the morning to be a difficult task. On January 1, 1997 I gave up cigarettes (there’s going to be one heckuva celebration this year, boys and girls). As with most people, I substituted eating for the ciggies, took a more sedentary job and managed to gain quite a bit of weight. I ballooned up to 220+ on my six-foot frame.

A story that’s familiar to many: One morning I was shaving at the mirror and my wife looked over at me and asks, “Why are you sticking your belly out like that?” I wasn’t. OUCH! I made a decision that day that I needed to Fish or Cut Bait, and my moniker was born. I picked up my first copy of Men’s Health (thank you Lou Schuler, for then and for now) that day, about 4 years ago. I started working out, and gradually lost the weight. In those ten years, I’ve quit cigarettes, gained and lost weight (I now hang around 195), had a beautiful daughter (love you Katie Rose) who gets to hang out with her healthy dad, learned how to eat clean (thanks Karocka), lifted small and lifted big, logged countless miles running and riding (thanks Harrisburg Bicycle Club), competed in two triathlons (Got the Nerve?) and managed, along the way, to even inspire a couple of other people to live healthier (including my incredible wife, Joan, who also gave up smoking).

I have learned and continue to learn so much from the members of this board, their intelligence and their wisdom. It's not just fitness either, and those of you who have been around know what I am talking about. I’ve learned about plants (Gardener), kids (JP and Erika), outdoor fun (ODB), how to cook up a salmon and a clean cheesecake (Johnka), baseball (Lefty and Lou), and the likelihood of winning an argument if you’re a married man (it ain’t good…thanks Brad/Q). I‘ve discovered new ways of dealing with people in the gym who are rude or nasty (thanks Danny) and that humor (that’s humour to my international friends) is a great way to deal with many situations (Ninja) and that self-deprecating humor/humour is oftentimes the funniest, and is a sign of a humble spirit (for my money, no one here does it better than Bond, though JavaJunkie deserves a shout). I’ve learned that men and women can coexist in a "locker room" and it doesn’t need to devolve into a mindless morass of stupid-sex-talk, that intelligent, funny discussion can be the order of the day (thanks OT Forum self-policing, and especially JP for giving us a place and carte blanche to do so).

I’ve gained a deeper understanding and respect for people with different perspectives, backgrounds and experiences. I’ve always had this, as my mom came from Ireland and having a parent of foreign birth gives you a naturally broader perspective. Still, I’ve grown so much in this area from people here, (thank you so much, Kaiser and Ruma).

I’ve learned that you can build friendships and even a community online, and that you can, with a modicum of effort, take those relationships farther (thanks Mahler, Lefty, Lou, Q….I know I’m forgetting others—My apolgies). I’ve learned that the borders and barriers between these friendships are of our own creation, and their dismantling is equally of our own choice. Mostly, I’ve learned that no matter how you say “about” there’s still only one way to spell it, and this little lesson shows us that we should focus on the things that bring us together, while acknowledging and celebrating the things that make us unique. It’s how we develop, broaden and sharpen our minds.

In seeking the last leg of my stool, I found it in my church. About four years ago, my wife and I walked into Aldersgate United Methodist Church. It felt like home. It's the kind of place that meets you spiritually where you are, but doesn't let you stay there. Pastor Mark Webb does an amazing job, never shying away from tough topics or difficult ideas. I like watching the way he deals with people, and I’ve learned from his gentle approach (those of you who know me know that “gentle” is not generally in my nature). He takes the time. We also had a woman Pastor, Natalya Cherry who just moved on to a new church. I already miss her decidedly feminine approach to the gospel, her wit and wisdom, her love for God and how she expressed it by loving other people.

I have grown and continue to grow, deepening my relationship with God by improving my relationships with people around me, my "neighbors". The brothers and sisters I have met, the friendships I have grown at Aldersgate show me what a caring community of Christ is all about. I’ve become very active with the men’s group, and I am constantly amazed at how this group of men helps each other, other members of the church, and even members of the local community (they are currently involved in restoring and cleaning up a woman’s house in time for her husband’s return from Iraq.

I offer this, not as an attempt at braggadocio, but as shining examples of how I want to live my life: gently, boldly, helping others with the Spirit as my guide and my helper.

The Three Legged Stool
One of my favorite (favourite to Vern) things to watch is boxing. I am enthralled by the ability of the human body to take the punishment it does, round after round. I remember Ali, Sugar Ray, Foreman, Frazier, Lewis, and other great fighters like Roy Jones Jr., Spinks, lace>Hopkinslace>, and de la Hoya, and the incredible story of Cinderella Man Jim Braddock. All of these fighters, these survivors of incredible battering and beating, these champions who weathered the odds, the naysayers and the critics, have one thing in common. In between the beatings, the pummelings, the booing, the smashing, the cheering, and the disappointing rounds, they all sat down on a well balanced, properly designed three legged stool. They collected their thoughts, rethought strategies, evaluated opponents, rested their weary bodies, and waited for the bell to ring. And when it rang, they rose off that perfect, balanced three legged stool and went out to face their foe knowing they could not be beaten, could not be defeated, no matter what anyone did or said. They were born to be victorious.

Last year, many of you know, I went on a mission trip to work with the kids in an orphanage in Belarus. I went back this year to see them again. I offer this 3,000th post not as a full explanation, nor as a finishing point, but as the beginning of a deeper exploration of what it means to be a disciple, to build and strengthen the third leg of my stool, and what it means to get up off my stool and go out with confidence to face my foe, rising as a child/man/warrior of God, born to be victorious.

You can follow along at my blog, as many of you already do: At the bottom of each post is a "comment" area. If you see something that you like, or something you question, or if you're just curious about whether I read the comments (I do) and respond (ditto), feel free to leave your thoughts. You can even do it anonymously.

Now go forth and conquer, like the champions you were born to be.


Blogger bob redding said...

sometimes? now theres a relative statement! once a month equals 250 years! i knew you colored your hair!

10:24 AM  
Blogger FishrCutB8 said...

What can I say? Interesting people + interesting topics + me liking to write = 3,000 posts in more than 3 years.

1:15 PM  
Blogger bob redding said...

i'm glad you do brother!

4:23 PM  
Blogger Redlefty said...

The first 2,999 were all fluff, I assure you. :)

Just kidding!

6:47 PM  

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