Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What is the point of all this?

"Sport, properly directed, develops character, makes a man courageous, a generous loser, and a gracious victor; it refines the senses, gives intellectual penetration, and steels the will to endurance. It is not merely a physical development then. Sport, rightly understood, is an occupation of the whole man, and while perfecting the body as an instrument of the mind, it also makes the mind itself a more refined instrument for the search and communication of truth and helps man to achieve that end to which all others must be subservient, the service and praise of his Creator."
– Pope Pius XII,
Sport at the Service of the Spirit
July 29, 1945

I never considered myself an 'athlete' - I've always loved to play, but I've never been noteworthy at anything. 
BUT I do spend and extraordinary amount of time training and now competing, though I am not 'elite',  I am not a professional.  Crossfit started for me as just another fitness program, but I am awakening to discover myself as a respectable athlete within a fitness community.  No, this is not the NFL or Major Leagues, or the Olympics.  But this is my life.   My life has been revolving in an increasing way around the sport of crossfit. 

It really has been a bit of a confusing little road watching it take over more and more of my life. I don't know what it means for me. I don't know how big a part of my life it should be, and honestly sometimes I feel guilty for the amount of time and energy I spend on it, but I kind of can't help it. I love it, and most days I'm pretty good at it. 
And while I don't know with certainty this is God's will for my life. I don't hear him calling me away from it either - so I continue to try to wrap my brain around the question of "who am I and what am I doing?"   After all, it's foolish to find oneself on a trajectory, and continue with increasing velocity, without some clarity of where that path is pointing, don't you think?  

I know I am a Christian.  I know my life is Christ.  I know that I can do nothing without Him, and I know that my mission is holiness.  If I am nothing in this world, but I could be holy, that would be success.  But holiness is not either/or... it's both/and. 
I am not Christian OR a crossfitter. I am a Christian crossfitter (for as long as I am a crossfitter)
Being holy doesn't mean wearing jumpers, and always maintaining a quiet tone, and having 10 kids and living a life of hidden sacrifice, or hanging out at church all day, or being involved in countless service projects. 
Being holy means putting God at the center - loving Him with our whole heart and letting that love transform our lives
I never said i was good at it.  I'm just saying this is the calling. 

So... why can't holiness include lifting heavy things and being raw and vulnerable as I physically push myself to new limits.  As I'm coming out of my shell into the world a bit, slowly moving from my cloister to open my heart and life to others (many of whom may not know Christ, or do not share the conviction of this calling) I haven't really known what to do.   I'm not an evangelist, but I do tend to agree with St. Francis, 
"Preach the Gospel, at all times and when necessary, use words."  

But I don't feel I do that well.  And actually, I have been humbled and encouraged to find I am often the one being witnessed and evangelized to. 
Yet,  I have felt like I live two lives - my gym life, and my regular life.  This kind of dichotomy will drive a person insane, don't you think?  If you have been reading along you've witnessed some of the insanity. 

Anyway, the point is I have to be who I am, where I am.  Simple enough.  So here is me, re-rooting, re-focusing. How do I be true to what I believe as an athlete?  How do I continue to strive for holiness as a crossfitter?  

hmm... i was sure the internet would know.  My search was intended to be for books by Christian athletes on the subject of... well... being Christian athletes.  Come on, I'm exploring here.    What I found was some testimonials of Christian Olympians.  Then I found a website for Catholic Athletes for Christ... that sounded good. And it is!  At least it has this handy dandy chart. Observe.

Core Virtues
There are seven core virtues that Catholic Athletes for Christ consider to be very valuable in the practice of the faith for athletes and those involved in the world of sports. They are CharityHonestyHumilityMeeknessModerationPurity, and Good-Sportsmanship.
Definition & Goals
Related Quotes


Charity is the virtue of putting others before ourselves.
Goal: We should all seek to love one another as Jesus has loved us, placing other's needs before our very own. In sports this means learning to care about those around us, even our competitors. Treat each person we meet not only how we would want to be treated ourselves, but moreover how Jesus Christ would treat them if He were present.
"This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this to lay down one's life for one's friend." —Jn 15:12-13
"Perfect love means putting up with other people's shortcomings, feeling no surprise at their weaknesses, finding encouragement even in the slightest evidence of good qualities in them." —St. Therese of Lisieux


Honesty is the virtue of being conformed and dedicated to the Truth.
Goal: We should all seek to be men and women dedicated to the Truth, the truth of Jesus Christ and His Gospel. This is a truth that exists outside of our own human mind, a truth that we get the grace of participating in every time we read sacred scripture or participate in the sacred mysteries.
"For this was I born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." —Jn 18:37b
"No one is truly poor but except the one who lacks the truth." —St. Ephraem the Syrian


Humility is the virtue of being aware that God is the author of all good, and the realization that we are not God.
Goal: We should seek to give credit to God who is the source of all that is good and seek to do all things for the greater glory of God, rather than taking credit for His handiwork.
"Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped." —Phil 2:5-6
"All this reverence that is paid me I never take to myself, but simply pass it all on to God." —St. Francis of Assisi


Meekness is the virtue of submitting to will of others out of respect and deference for their dignity as a person.
Goal: We should all seek the good in those around us, looking to affirm and honor them for the good of who they are, submitting ourselves to their will, rather than living for the estimation of our brothers and sisters. We are not to be self serving, but rather be the better person by being forgiving and gracious to others
"Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory, rather humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for own interests, but also everyone for those of others." —Phil 2:3-4
"Blessed is the one who takes no more pride in the good that God says and does through him, than in that which He says and does through someone else." —St. Francis of Assisi


Moderation, also known as temperance, is the virtue of being in control of our passions and having self-mastery.
Goal: We should all seek to be in control of our whole lives at all times. Our passions do not have power over us; we instead have power over them. We should have the ability to tell ourselves "No" and be in control of our appetites for the things of this world and the simple pleasures of life.
"Do not follow your lusts, but restrain your base desires. If you allow yourself to satisfy your desires, this will make you the laughing-stock of your enemies. Do not indulge in luxurious living, nor get involved in such society." —Sirach 18:30-32
"Everything is lawful for me, but not everything is beneficial. Everything is lawful for me, but I will not let myself be dominated by anything." —1 Cor 6:12
"It is impossible to engage in spiritual conflict unless the appetite has first been subdued." —Pope St. Gregory the Great


Purity, also known as chastity, is the virtue of being clean in mind and body, as well as modest in our dress and speech.
Goal: We should all seek to be in control of our sexuality. We are not to deny our human sexuality, but rather embrace it, accept it, and integrate it into our very person through the use of temperance. True chastity requires diligence and discipline, always being on guard against temptations of the flesh, so that we may truly love, cherish, treasure, and honor others as we should.
"Avoid Immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the immoral person sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, and that you are not your own?" —1 Cor 6:18-19
"He who aspires the grace of God must be pure, with a heart as innocent as a child's. Purity of heart is to God like a perfume, sweet and agreeable." —St. Nicolas of Flue


Good-Sportsmanship is the virtue of treating others with dignity and respect in sporting events; winning with graciousness and loosing with dignity and honor.
Goal: We should all seek to compete to the best of our ability, treating ourselves, our fellow teammates, and our competitors with dignity and honor. Our behavior should reflect at all times that of Christ and our demeanor speak to the value of healthy competition. Instead of looking for the easy way to win or resort to cheating, being a good sport means that there are no short cuts to victory. Victory takes hard work and discipline. We should compete to the best of our ability, and hope to beat our competitors at their best. Good-Sportsmanship draws people together in the spirit of healthy competition and in the end the two are better for having competed.
"Compete well for the faith." —1 Tim 1:12a
"I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith." —2 Tim 4:7
"Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadow-boxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified." —1 Cor 9:25-27
"All for God and for His Glory. In whatever you do, think of the Glory of God as your main goal." —St. John Bosco
 Copied from the CACwebsite.

Yes! Yes! Yes!  That's it. That's what I'm going for.  
Friends, this is what I believe.  This is what I'm striving for.  I know, it's hard to believe when I'm more often talking about wanting to die and how much I resemble the Hulk, and I DO question a little bit if what Jesus would do is kick someone... I think He might.
Side note:  Did I tell you my teammates nicknamed me Bear.  really. Bear.  Flattering right?  as in "Don't poke the bear"  as in "Mama Bear" when you mess with her cubs.  Lord, help me.  Honestly, it's awesome to be so raw and real with people. 
Funny thing is "Bear" was my dad's nickname in the military.  I always thought it was because he was always a bigger kind of guy, but maybe I need to get that story. 
End Side Note, back to main note. 

It's true.  As poor a witness as I may be sometimes, there's no giving up my compass.  This is what I'm striving for, and  owning it is exciting, re-inspiring.  I'm excited about the journey ahead. 

This actually reminds me of my conversion story. I'll give it it's own post. 

All that to say, do you have any good christian athlete book recommendations?

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