My alarm goes off but I have been wide awake for 30 minutes anticipating today’s workout. It’s my max lift week and I am anxious to see how I have improved. 8 Weeks ago I managed to put up 315lbs on bench press and I am anxious to shatter that former PR. I run downstairs and fill a small bowl up of oats and peanut butter and begin to shovel it into my mouth as a last minute carbohydrate load. I march back upstairs and read my devotional. Today Jesus reminds me to seek not only his presence but his peace. I hit my knees (literally) next to my bed and I ask God to help me stay sober, I pray for my sponsor and his family, I pray for the men I sponsor and for those who have gone back out. Prayers for fellow believers are said as well as those that come to mind who might not necessarily know Christ. I close out my prayer by asking God to remove anything from me that would keep me from being of service to him as well as being useful to others. I say Amen and turn my attention back to gym prep.
I arrive at the gym, the parking lot is all but empty except for the few vehicles I recognize that I see here every morning. Jumping out of the truck I grab my gym bag and walk confidently to my morning domain. My head is held high because I am sure I will achieve my goal today of Bench Pressing 330lb. Warming my muscles up for a good 30 minutes, I am certain I am doing all the necessary prep in order to be successful.
Ready to make things happen, I warm up on the bench press with just the Olympic bar (45lbs) for a good 10 reps. 135lb is added to the bar and I pump out another 6 reps. Walking away for a minute I continue to stretch my chest then return and load 185lb on the bar. I rep out 4 easy. 225lbn is next and the reps roll off my chest with no issues. I feel good and I feel pumped. My wrist wraps get strapped on and I load up the bar for 255lb- it’s tough but I do one solid rep as directed by my trainer. 275lb is next in line and I grab a buddy to watch me but not touch the bar unless needed. 275 goes up easily and flawlessly. ‘I’ve got this’ is the mantra that runs through my head. Hurriedly I load 295lb on the bar and am ready to get through it. I ask my buddy to watch again. I adjust my footing, swing forward, adjust my grip, turn my lats in and push the bar off the cradle. ‘This is a lot heavier than I remember’ The bar lowers and touches my chest, all under my own power. I push the bar up and nothing happens.
My buddy has to hop in and help raise the bar to its cradle. I am visibly upset, red, humiliated. My buddy says ‘Let’s try again in a few minutes’ , I agree and sit on the bench with my head down.
‘What are you a faggot?’ It’s the voice from my childhood now rearing its ugly head in my moment of failure. I feel less than, marginalized, weak, emasculated. The same way I felt when asked this question was posed to me when I was 12 years old is conjuring up the same feelings. It was a question of a disgust and a question of disappointment. My thoughts were quickly spiraling and it was time to attempt the lift again.
Failure happens again and the triumph I was sure of only an hour ago now lay dead with the only result being a throbbing left arm and chalk dust on my palms.
My buddy walks away, knowing I don’t want encouragement, I don’t want to talk about it.
‘What are you, weak?’
‘Why did you fail?’
‘What are you a faggot?’
My eyes start to well up with tears, I am so mad at myself for failing, upset that the words from a dead man still have so much effect on my life as an adult. Self-pity has given way to anger, I want to hit something, somebody, anything but I don’t and I just start to work on improving where I messed up.
My body hurts but my soul hurts worse.
I am not a quitter, never been and I don’t think I ever will be.
The way I started my day was perfect. I had the words of the Lord before me and I had a conversation with him before I left the house. His words ring in my head ‘Seek not only my presence but my peace’. Where did I go wrong?
My ego and pride certainly played a role. I failed to seek him further after I read those words.
The minute I had gotten up from my knees – I took the day back. Giving God 5 minutes of my day is not enough – he wants my whole day and I took it back for my own goals and my own agenda almost immediately.
If I had given him everything the end result would most likely had still been almost the same; I probably still would not have made my lift … BUT … I wouldn’t have allowed my thoughts to come in and tear me down. Even if they had reared their ugly head I would have given them to Him much quicker rather than taking gut punches from the past.