Life Lessons from Gymnastics: Get Back Up–Immediately

 

Last night, I went to a gymnastics gym with some friends to do some tumbling. I’ve been going whenever I have the chance to hone my flips and try out new ones. Every time I go, I try to push myself to do something I’m afraid of and step out a little farther from my comfort zone. A little while in, a small crowd gathered in the center of the tumbling floor and I discovered what I had to try that night…

 

A few kids had pulled a ramp into the middle of the floor and set up a mat on the other side. I watched as they ran full-speed up the ramp, dove straight into the air, Superman style, then tucked into a ball and front flipped, landing with flawless superhero landings on the mat on the other side. It was beautiful. It looked like flying. It looked like fun. But it looked terrifying.

 

And I knew I had to try it.

 

So I jumped in line, waited my turn, then rushed in. I ran to the ramp, stepped up, jumped off, dove into the air—and freaked out. My body spun upside-down then realized how stupid of an idea this was, and I flailed like a deflated balloon and dropped flat on my face on the mat.

 

The whole gym erupted in a unanimous “OOOOOHHH!!!” My body was fine. Nothing was broken—except my pride. But that little voice inside of every logical, thinking human being spoke up in my head and said, “We will never try that again.” Except with me the edited version said, “We will not try that…for a little while.” Either way, one thing was clear to me—I was gonna need a break. Even if I didn’t need to recover from the physical wounds, I’d need to recover from that embarrassment.

 

But when I got up, the reaction I got from the kids who had been flipping caught me completely off-guard. They screamed out at me, “You have to try that again!” And there was an urgency in their voice, like someone was chasing me that I couldn’t see.

“You gotta try it again!” they insisted. “Now!”

And I was like, “What do you mean?”

“When you bomb like that, you have to try it again immediately.”

“Why?” I asked.

Then one of them said these words to me and it changed everything: “You have to try it now because it’ll be even scarier later.”

And it hit me.

 

Fear and failure aren’t linked. We have to learn to be afraid of failure. When you fail, your mind is reeling from the experience and you’re still wondering what just happened. It isn’t until you keep thinking about it that you eventually realize all the things that went wrong and all the things that will go wrong in the future. But initially, there’s a few moments where you’re still trying to make sense of everything and fear doesn’t have a hold on you. It’s in those moments that you have to try again—before fear catches up.

 

So I brushed myself off, they cleared the lane, and, even though I was just barely recovering from the shock, I sprinted towards the ramp again. And this time, I stepped up, dove, tucked, and landed it perfectly.

 

The guys roared and cheered me on and I felt like I’d died and come back to life. It was amazing.

 

Driving back home, it dawned on me that life is like that. When we fail, whether it be failing a class, not getting a job or getting rejected for a date, our first reaction might be to stop trying. But in reality, the best thing to do is to get back up and try again—immediately.

 

This is even more true spiritually. When we fall into sin and watch porn, lose our virginity, get drunk, or make any kind of mistake that seems to throw our relationship with God out the window, our first reaction is to think that we have to do something drastic like fast for 40 days before ever thinking about going to church again. We might be so ashamed that we think we have to cut off all human contact or that God will never think of using us ever again so we’re better off not even praying anymore. But in reality, Jesus and all the angels are saying, “Get back up! You have to try again now!” And when we do, He cheers us on and says, “That’s what I’m talkin’ about!”

 

So no matter how you mess up, get back up—immediately.

 

 

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