by Dr. Agonson
I was alone in the dressing room pulling off my shirt. Today I felt cold; I was tired; just wanted stay home and sleep. Maybe you’ll understand this, maybe not, but I had to go today. I was getting ready for jujitsu. In my backpack I had stored my uniform, we call it a gi, and I stood there shivering as my mind whirled like a storm trying to figure if I was mad for doing this.
What’s one class worth? Just go home, say you’re not feeling well. It was true, I felt poorly. I thought of the warm up: a few laps intermingled with push-ups, practice some shoulder rolls, a few other things, but always our ultimate exercise before class really began was the dreaded sidewinder.
A sidewinder, at least in jujitsu, is where you lie on your back in a crunched position pull your shoulders off the ground and throw them forward by quickly contorting so that you can then roll back onto them and throw your hips forward in the same way. By so doing you sort of “walk” on your shoulders and hips down the mat.
I couldn’t do them the first class. I watched as a blue belt demonstrated, rolled onto my back, and proceeded to wriggle like an inverted beetle. If I moved at all it was only to pivot in place. I got a few steps the next class, but still, it was dreadful.
I hadn’t gotten much better than that over the last few months. Every warmup I was the last one on the floor, half way down just trying to keep moving, while the other students were drinking some water in the half minute break we had before stretches. I lay there wiggling helplessly.
Eventually the call to circle up would sound and I would have to let the sidewinders win another battle against me. I thought of these things as I pulled the gi’s heavy jacket over my shoulders. I started to pray.
It was something like, “God, I don’t have any strength left to me today. Please be my strength.”
I walked out with my jacket opened and my white belt hanging like a scarf down my chest. I didn’t have a single stripe yet (a stripe represents a minor promotion in jujitsu); so often I could only make a class a week, if that, and I looked out at my friends, some of them ready to test for blue with four white tick marks, and wondered if college was really worth all this time, it was getting in the way of jujitsu.
I found myself praying again, that same prayer, give me strength. I panted and wheezed around our circuit waiting for our “break” where we would stop and do some push-ups. Later we would line up, do some break falls, a few shoulder rolls, we would get to the penultimate shrimps, all leading up to the sidewinders.
To more efficiently use our space the class was separated into three lines so as to stagger people when starting the exercise. I had learned to place myself last in line so people wouldn’t have to get up and walk around me.
Give me strength, I kept praying.
I lay down waiting for the person ahead of me to go a little ways before starting the sidewinders, not that I would need to give them any space. Here I noticed a blue belt, saw how he landed on his shoulder; he was almost landing on his upper arm and throwing himself from his elbow…
I stared entranced barely realizing I should myself get going. I tried it. I landed partly on my arm and threw myself by my elbow. I raced forward. Before I knew it I was halfway down the mat. I kept going. There were still people on the floor with me. I kept going till I fell off the soft wrestling mats unto the harder ground beneath.
The sidewinders had been conquered! My God had given me strength. But it is interesting the way in which my LORD answered my prayer. It has that caveat, a foothold for any skeptic. A natural explanation to what had occurred exists, no need to bring in the supernatural; Occam’s razor and all that.
But the knife cuts both ways. From youth I have been brought up with God ever-present, the supernatural already believed in. So, which position is tenable? The natural, or the supernatural? You won’t find an answer here, God will give you room to reject Him. He will show Himself, but He won’t pull your fingers out of your ears and make you listen.
Listen to my beautiful voice: