Lately, I’m sore. Part of it is a physical sore that I can feel in my body. The other part is more of a spiritual and emotional soreness that I can feel in my soul. All over, I am being stretched or challenged in some way that’s beyond my comfort zone. And all of it is good for me.
Physically Sore & Stretched
Only part of my being sore lately is aches & pains that are highly correlated to me getting older. The biggest reason started several years ago, when one of my best friends challenged me to join him in The Iceman. It’s a 30-mile mountain bike race through beautiful country in Northern Michigan — in November. The weather in that part of the country at that time of year can make such an endeavor challenging & unpredictable. We’ve done it every year since he offered that initial invitation. And … its a stretch for me.
A month ago I noticed I was sore after a long ride with two neighbors. I rode both further and faster than I have all year. I hit “the wall” several miles from home. That is good for me. And it is something I had better get used to by November … Northern Michigan is MUCH more hilly and precarious than the flatland suburbs of Chicago.
I may go on a long bike ride on the weekend. And I may push myself. But, lately I’ve been sore more consistently. I am being pushed. Tested. Challenged.
Emotionally Sore & Stretched
Then there’s the other kind of sore. This one is a soreness in my heart. My spirit. Frankly, its even more challenging. Its also more powerful and rewarding. I do life with a group of trusted, God-fearing men. They are like my personal board of directors. With me, they feed into my life and give me counsel and encouragement. They extend grace. They also aren’t afraid to tell me the truth.
When I’m among this group of men, I’m continually motivated to challenge myself. When I stand in front of them and share what’s happening with me, I want to demonstrate my resolve, to build a new habit. I’m not holding myself accountable out of fear, because the guys in my group won’t shame, blame, or judge me. Instead, they’ll encourage me to step into the challenge & see what is there:
- If I don’t meet my commitment to myself, why not?
- Did I face the challenge with a joyful heart or with resentment or anger? Either way, what’s behind that?
- What’s next?
They’ve challenged me to move out of my comfort zone. They’re encouraged me to live less like the world and more like Jesus Christ. And I’m not the only one. As a result, guys I know well are leaving work early to get home to our families. We’re talking more to our kids and having meaningful conversations. We’re building healthier relationships with our wives. We’re taking better care of ourselves … spiritually, physically and emotionally. We’re talking about how we can build and leave legacies. I’m looking forward to being around the circle again soon, so I can hear how everyone is doing on their stretches. We’re stretched. We’re sore. And its good.
A few questions for you:
- If you’re not in a group where you can be challenged, supported … and sore, then why not?
- Instead of wondering “what do I have to lose,” “Ask yourself … what do I have to gain?”
God did not design man to be alone. He designed us for community. And I love being part of a community such as The Crucible Project, where truth and grace is continually modeled for me and extended to me. Yes … I am sore. But I’m also a better man for it.
– By Jason Bachman
Jason completed his initial Crucible weekend in 2010. He has staffed and volunteered at The Crucible Project ever since. His mission is to create a world of authentic community where people speak the truth and accept each other. Jason works as a solution consultant for a global firm, and lives in the Chicago suburbs.
Photo Credit: Derek Lee via Creative Commons