March 24, 2011 | The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner
"New Muscles"My wife, Holly, and I just returned from spending nine days with the good people of Trinity-By-The-Cove Episcopal Church in Naples, Florida. If you are ever in the area, you need to visit this church! It is a thriving center of spiritual vitality with outstanding worship, music, education, outreach and wellness programs. While we were there we had a wonderful opportunity to present a week-long series of talks on topics of wellness, marriage and parenting and to share our Living Compass program with a wider audience. When not working we made sure we had some time to recreate as well. I love to run, and was excited to do some beach running using the newest sensation in running shoes, the Vibram FiveFingers shoes which are like gloves for your feet. I purchased these shoes as soon as I arrived in Florida because I had read that they were the perfect shoes for running on the beach, and it turns out they were indeed! I felt like a kid running on the beach with these shoes, almost like I was running for the first time as the experience was so different from running in my traditional running shoes. On the first day I ran a long way and didn’t want to stop. I did the same thing the next day and the day after that. It was after the third day that I finally read the warning on the instructions that came with the shoes. The warning said that running in FiveFinger shoes requires the use of different muscles in the foot, ankle and calf and therefore a person should start using them in a slow, gradual manner. In retrospect, I can now say that this would have been good advice for me to follow because I did indeed experience some definite soreness in muscles I wasn’t used to using. I took a couple a few days off, but was luckily able to return to the beach for a few more runs before the week was over. Perhaps you are in the midst of a transition or perhaps like my recent running adventure, you are trying to do something you have always done, but in a whole new way. Perhaps you are ready to try something new and move out of a comfort zone in your life. Such growth is always uncomfortable at first because it requires using a new set of “muscles,” whether they be physical, spiritual, emotional or relational “muscles.” A couple who wishes to seek deeper intimacy, will usually have to exercise some new conversational “muscles” as they talk through some issues that may have been dividing them. A person who wishes to heal from a significant loss will need to exercise some new emotional “muscles” as they open up and talk about their grief. A person who is seeking more serenity in their life, may need to develop some new spiritual “muscles” as they try a new spiritual practice in their life. A person entering retirement may have to develop some new recreational and relational “muscles.” As I discovered on the beaches in Florida last week, there can be great delight in trying new experiences. At the same time, new experiences almost always bring some sense of discomfort. Developing new muscles takes time and is sure to produce some soreness along the way. That’s why it’s important to give ourselves the time it takes to integrate and adjust to the change and growth that we seek and ..... be patient. And there was one other thing I learned from wearing my FiveFinger shoes. We are sure to attract some strange looks from others as we try out a new way of doing things. Hang in there though, because as I learned last week, the delight of discovering a new way of doing something is more than worth the temporary discomfort and strange looks one may receive along the way.
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