Learning the unforced rhythms of grace


Restrainable Sustainable!

I started swimming last week and fell in love with it again!  Actually, my swimming suit is in the bag beside me and I'm heading there as soon as this blog is written. There is something about water that soothes and relaxes and refreshes all at the same time. I can have a good workout but not really know it because the water keeps me cool.  And for pain relief for adhesions from Endometriosis and previous surgeries . . . it's perfect. 

But I have to admit that I had grandiose thoughts within the first few minutes of being there. I started in the "slow lane" and doggie-paddled, floated on my back, adding a few strokes here and there but mostly staying slow. I looked at the "medium" and "fast" lanes and began to scheme how quickly I would be able to progress to those lanes. I wanted to belong over there!

Restraints are crucial for life.  Seat belts, harnesses, fences, and railings are all there to sustain life–to keep us alive! If we have to use them, like seatbelts in a car, then we learn to appreciate their value. If we choose not to use them, we may get pulled over and given a ticket or get in an accident and receive injuries. So, we submit to the restraints for the sustainability of our lives.

Nothing is restraining me from swimming. I could swim every day, twice a day and push myself as hard as I want for progress. In fact, the more I go, the better deal my monthly pass turns out to be. So financially, that would be a good thing. But, I understand both my drive to improve and my impatience and perhaps embarrassment for being in the "slow lane". 

Restraining our spending habits sustains the life of our finances. Restraining our words, anger or reactive comments sustains the integrity of our relationships. Restraining our choice of activities sustains our energy.

Makes sense doesn't it? So why is it so difficult to put self-imposed limits or restraints on our activities?

Here's what Paul says about our struggle: 

"In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t."  Romans 12:4-6 The Message (MSG)

Ah pride . . . there it is.

If I want a sustainable swimming experience without overdoing it or straining muscles or spending excessive amounts of time in that one activity, then I must practice restraint. I must stay in the slow lane, a few times per week, accepting my reality, my limits, my pace until I actually develop enough strength to move over one lane. Patience, humility, and self-control.

Another opportunity for God's grace in my life. That way, swimming in the slow lane is exercise for my body and my soul!