I always look for the shortcut. You know, the easy way. The way around. Why would I bother taking the long road when there is a perfectly good way to cut the corner that would make it so much easier? And quicker. I am just being efficient here. Blazing a new trail that, perhaps, will become the way everyone does this. Just come on, follow me.
Is that cheating?
This occurs to me as I watch the young athletes who are growing into newly elongated bodies. Awkward and unbalanced, the old rules of movement no longer apply. They tip and topple. Embarrassed, they try again and the same thing happens. Down they go. Something’s got to change.
They don’t plan this. Their body does it on its own. It modifies the movement in a way that accomplishes success. Instead of pushing off straight ahead, the foot turns outward to broaden its base of support. Voila! Balance. They blast off with their teammates, just like before. Except now, their push off recruits fewer muscle fibers to do the work and is activated at an oblique angle. It works, but it’s inefficient. They tire sooner, get sore, and often end up injured.
Who’s to blame? Their bodies? They were just compensating. Taking a short cut in order to remain effective. Growth is hard. In order to keep going the body does what is necessary to meet the demands. It cuts corners…naturally.
Isn’t that interesting? A built-in cheating mechanism, through no fault of my own. Inborn. Adaptive. Effective. Until it injures. Sounds a bit like “sin,” in the way I have had it explained to me. Something we’re born with that takes us off track. A condition we’re in. Indeed, a condition the whole world is in. One look at any days’ headlines will convince you of that.
But the experience of this in myself is harder. I feel responsible for it. I know it’s there, but somehow it’s hard to avoid. When conditions change or things get hard or growth is necessary and patience required, I default to the easy way. It’s sort of a knee jerk reflex. A compensation. A short cut. Done over and over, it becomes my new go-to. Soon, my muscles memorize it and it becomes my natural way. All without my conscious awareness, until someone points it out.
Then, I can justify it. It makes sense to do it this way, I convince myself. Why make things harder than they have to be? Certainly God understands. And God does. He knows our natural tendency to sin, to separateness, to self-sufficiency.
Perhaps the tiredness is meant to get our attention. If not that then the soreness. But if we persist, the injuries stop us for sure. It’s our Father’s 1-2-3 admonition. You have till the count of three. One…two…
What grace to be given the warning. And to be shown the reality:
- it’s in us
- it’s natural
- it’s modifiable
If we pay attention, there is wisdom that says, “This is a temptation for you. Slow down. Take your time. Do it right. Do it well. At the right time, your body will respond as it’s meant to. As I meant it to. Follow me.”
When I insist on going my own way, I avoid the whole conversation. I start bush-whacking through uncharted territory, and soon I am out of earshot. Then I grow tired and sore and begin to limp. Probably better to turn back before I injure myself.