I can’t believe how much food I was able to fit into my body that day. My suegra (mother-in-law), my wife’s tia (aunt), and primos (cousins) had traveled across the state line to celebrate Thanksgiving Day with us in Arizona. One thing that I can always count on, when my suegra visits, is homegirl is going to “get-down” in the kitchen. That lady can cook like there is no tomorrow. And I…. let’s just say that I am 100% fine with that. However, the day after, I can literally hear my arteries crying, as they continue to process all the refined grease (manteca) and spices that we, Mexicans, like to indulge in.
The day after the Thanksgiving feast, started with feelings of remorse and guilt. Up until our family’s arrival, I had been maintaining a steady health regiment. I had consistently been watching my diet and exercising for several months. Along with that I was seeing results of my labor and discipline. However, my suegra knows my weakness, and like Superman under the spell of kryptonite, I caved in and feasted on the delicacies that she prepared. In response to my backsliding, I decided that I would make up for it by extending my workout at the gym. I was determined to burn off every calorie that I had consumed the day prior. I kicked up my workout a notch, and crossed my fingers, in hope that that my relapse into Mexican cuisine would have no long last effect.
During my workout, I decided to add an incline dumbbell chest bench-press to my routine. However, this time around I was determined to max out. My approach to this was not well planned. I started off lifting more than I should, and with no regard to safety, I rushed myself as I increased weight. As I prepared for my last set, I knowingly went in to lift more than I knew I could. However, I was determined to make myself pay for the feast that I had the day before. So in light of this, I braced myself and went in for the lift. As I exerted all of my energy and concentration to make this happen, I heard something that sounded like the ripping of a cloth. However, I didn’t pay much attention to it, because in that moment, I lifted what at one time, I had deemed impossible. Inside I wanted to jump up and shout for victory, and I only contained myself because I was in public. However, when I tried to stand up from the bench, my abdomen was met with uncontrollable pain. I was unsure what to make of it. I had never experienced this before. In fact, I could barely move. Instead of doing the victory dance, that I previously envisioned, I found myself limping across the gym floor, out of the gym, gently sliding myself into my car, and preparing for the most painful car ride ever.
Over the next few weeks, I would discover that my victorious day-after-Thanksgiving moment, had actually caused a triple hernia to occur. The rip that I heard was actually the tearing of tissue in my abdomen wall. The pain I felt was indescribable. In fact it was debilitating. It kept me from spending time with family. It kept me from socializing with others. In fact, shortly after this injury, my sister-in-law passed away, and I was unable to travel to attend her funeral. I became immobile.
Eventually I met with a surgeon who told me that he could fix me up. However, the only opening he had was on New Years Eve. In turn, my injury kept me from the funeral of loved one, it ruined my Christmas Holiday, my birthday (which falls a few days after), and I was to ring in the new year coming out of anesthesia.
Aside from all the craziness, this act of foolishness taught me 5 lessons that I’d like to share with you.
Things will fall apart when you carry more weight than you ought too.
Each of us has the strength and ability to carry a certain amount of weight. If we over-exert ourselves, we will hurt ourselves in the process. This is easy to visualize in my story of lifting weights at the gym. However, it also relates to our every action in this life. Each of us has a personal level of strength and tolerance for the amount of activity, work, and stress that we are able to carry. When we “over-do” it, we will end up herniating our careers, relationships, ministries, and/or mental health. While accomplishment, in most cases, feels amazing. We really must ask ourselves if what we are adding to our lives (example: activity, projects, and other time consumers) is really worth the possibility of self-damage.
It is foolish to think that I can instantly “erase” the effects of poor choices.
In my scenario, my die-hard mindset that I took to the gym, was triggered by the poor choices that I made the day before. I knew better than to eat like a pig. However, I caved in to temptation and allowed remorse to get the best of me. In hindsight, I can see that my solution for my dilemma was unrealistic. There is no way that I could undo the effects of an entire day spent on unhealthy choices by spending a single hour at the gym.
In like manner, it is unrealistic to think that there are short-cuts to resolve other poor choices that we make in this life. We must always remember that, although we have the power to make choices, we do not have the power to choose our consequences. Perhaps the best thing that we can do is own-up to our messes, develop awareness of our triggers, confess our short-comings, and repent from our flawed mindsets.
The appropriate thing to do, when carrying more weight than you can handle, is to ask for help.
I knew better than to attempt to lift that amount of weight without a spotter to help me. However, did I allow that to stop me? Heck no. Was I alone at the gym? Nope. In fact, I was surrounded with a multitude of people, who just like me, were paying their day-after-Thanksgiving penance. Truth is, I let my pride get in the way.
You may laugh at me, however, I think we are all guilty of doing the same thing in different settings. In fact, many of us would rather fall flat on our face instead of asking someone else for help. I’ll take it a step further, and confess another tendency of mine….. I am often guilty of attempting feats of cataclysmic proportions and watching them explode before me before I ever ask God for help? Why is this? Once again, I believe it is pride. When we hear the words, “I can do all things through Christ…”, we tend to want to eliminate “through Christ”, from the verse.
The wounds of your ignorance can keep you from experiencing life to the fullest.
My stupid decision kept me from some very important moments in life. I missed out on saying good-by precious sister-in-law. I missed out on traveling back home for Christmas. In addition, I didn’t recover as quickly as I had anticipated. A few months later, I attempted to take my wife on a road trip to Sedona for a Valentines’s Day get away…. In case you were unaware of this, a whiny husband makes for a disappointing Valentine date. Not only was a poor decision keeping me from experiencing life to the fullest, it was also affecting my wife more than I had anticipated.
The healing processes is sometimes slow and painful.
My surgeon had originally told me that I would be able to resume normal daily activities within 15 days (minus lifting anything heavy). What a liar!!!! Sadly, it took me about 3 months to fully recover. But, what was I to expect? To fix my injuries, I first had to be cut open, the doctor had to place mesh in 3 separate places, the wounds had to be repaired, and then I had to be stitched up.
This is much like real life. Sometimes, in order to heal from our poor choices, pain must first be inflicted. Many times, that is the only thing that truly awakens us from the lies that initially led us down the wrong path. In addition, many wounds don’t heal right away. Although I believe in miracles, I also know that sometimes it takes years for careers, relationships, and ministries to be restored back to health.
However, in the process, we can always rest in the fact that God works all things together for the good of them that love Him and are called according to His purpose.
John Eli Garay
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Categories: Life Lessons