Some months ago I had the opportunity to see Olympic Medalist Apolo Ohno in person. Speaking at a huge arena in downtown Salt Lake City, dressed in a sleek black suit, the young athlete took the 20 x 20 foot stage, and poured out his soul to the thousands of strangers in stories of tiered seating.
No regrets. Training with a "no regrets" philosophy. Performing at his ultimate best. And then, how being a contestant on "Dancing With The Stars" actually made him a better speed skater on the ice.
It was a different discipline, a different challenge, a different training, and definately a different way of seeing his own personality. Each week on the show he would learn tangos and shuffles that he would never use on the ice, ingrained only to pull him through a 3 minute routine on a dance floor in front of the American TV audience. It stretched him. It pushed him out of everything he knew about himself, competition, and training. In fact, it was completely, laughably, random. Which made him so much better.
In our most significant relationships, the ones in which we have the most to lose or gain, the ones which define us the most, the ones in which we find our identity, I do believe once in a while God cross-trains us. He takes us completely and laughably, out of our previous training and places us in a foreign environment. All for the sake of rounding us out, stretching us, and helping us see ourselves differently. Completely, laughably, different. Seems random. But its not.
Our roles change, from mother, to nurse, to coach, to friend, to accountability partner, to confidante.
Our disciplines change, from meekness, to leadership, to mentoring, to encouraging, to patient listener, to laying down the law, to goal setter.
It's embarrassing to cross-train. As, in Ohno's experience, knowing that America is glued to their TV's, shocked to see a testosterone exuding speed skater donning tights and nickers . . . the movements are awkward, forced, foreign. The daily changing and stretching painful and choppy. New habits lending their way to fluid movements.
And then, lifting someone else. And then winning the highest number of Olympic medals in Winter Olympics - EVER.
Relational cross-training. God does that. He knows changing up the disciplines will make us champions. Even when we hate being embarrassed by the training it takes.
So if your life seems random and what your relationships require of you is a skill set you never possessed, and you wonder if you ever can . . . you're in heavenly cross-training my friend.
Don't let the tights bug you. It's all part of it. Just go with it. Because when you look back on your life, it will be the cross-training that will have taught you to not only compete for the gold, but to truly dance.