Friday, April 18, 2014

Breathing---My Cross to Bear

My family has a history of bad lungs.   I've had uncles who have won the fight against lung cancer and I've had uncles who have lost their fight with lung cancer.   I've seen yet another uncle wither away due to emphysema.  I remember watching my grandfather have to use a breathing machine when I was kid.   So, while their lung problems may have a lot to do with smoking, I've certainly seen relatives with lung problems.

I also have lung problems, although nothing as drastic as lung cancer or emphysema. I do have to deal with exercise induced asthma though.   The only time it really bothers me is when I'm working out.   And if you look at this amazingly sculpted body, it's no secret that I work out.  Occasionally.   When I do work out, I enjoy doing CrossFit---constantly varied, functional movements done at high intensity.   It's great because no matter how good of shape you are in---it's going to kick your butt.   

It does get frustrating for me though because my lungs do not let me go as fast as I want.   Sure, some workouts muscle fatigue hits me too, but nearly every workout my respiratory capacity slows me down and I have to pace myself so I don't "red line."   And, I know I'm not supposed to let my ego get in my way, but it does suck always being one of the last ones to finish.   Fortunately, all of the other people in the gym cheer me on and encourage me.

It sucks not being able to breath.   It sucks feeling like you are suffocating or drowning.   You think to yourself, I could be home on the couch.   A thought came to me one day as I was praying the rosary (I took it up as my Lenten obligation, and did a good job for the first couple of weeks too).   The rosary is a form of prayer where, as you say certain prayers, you meditate of different parts of Jesus' life.   There are different meditations for different days of the week.  So, for instance, this day was Friday so I was praying the Sorrowful Mysteries.  So for a certain set of prayers, I would meditate on the "Agony in the Garden" and then the "Scourging at the Pillar," for another set of prayers, then the "crowning of thorns," followed by the "carrying of the cross" and finally the crucifixion.

As I was praying on the crucifixion, I was contemplating the agony that Jesus as going through as he hung up on the cross.   The  mode of death for people being crucified is actually suffocation.    With the arms outstretched and the person hanging there, the lungs are compressed making it very difficult to breath and the person eventually dies, sometimes hours or even days later, buy suffocating.   In fact, during our Lord's passion, the Romans broke the legs of the two criminals on either side of Jesus. They did this so they could not use their legs (which were nailed into the cross) to lift their bodies for a few moments so they could breath.   By breaking the legs, they could not lift themselves up to breath and their death was hastened. 

I imagined what a horrible way to die that would be.  Then I thought of what a wuss I must be when I feel like I'm gasping for air and breathing heavy just a few minutes into a workout.    I'm doing the workout for my betterment.   I'm doing it so I can be in shape and look good for my wife.    I'm going it for me.      Jesus went through all of that, for me.  He suffocated and He died for me.  Because of my sins.  Because He wants to spend eternity with me because He loves me that much.

It's one thing to contemplate that while siting in a pew at church.   It is quite another to have that thought pop into your head in the middle of a workout.  While you are doing burpees and just slugging it out---throwing yourself down and picking yourself back up, cursing out the trainer who made up this workout and you realize that Jesus went through worse for me.    At that point, all you can do is suck it up and push on and offer up the pain you are going through.

As an aside, my gym posted this great workout for today--Good Friday---The Jesus WOD!!!

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