When I think of contractions, my first thought has nothing to do with exercise. I think of grammar, where contractions are shortened words or combinations of words formed by taking away one or more letters. I am becomes I’m. Should not becomes shouldn’t. You have becomes you’ve. Contractions in exercise are related, because they involve a shortening of muscles. One of my first experiences with the movement of contraction was in gymnastics when I had to learn how to contract my core muscles and pull my arms forward to form a nicely rounded back for flowing, artistic body lines. I already knew how to make grammatical contractions. It was about taking something out. Contractions seemed to make language easier. I wasn’t supposed to use them much in writing, but they certainly make communicating a bit easier. In fact, because of the casual effect contractions could make, they make communication seem lazy.
Not so with physical contractions. Physical contractions involved work and effort. There’s nothing lazy about working your muscles. To minimize a couple words is easy. To intentionally minimize muscles, whether to stretch and tone muscles or to create an artistic effect, is not so easy. Minimizing seems simple, but it’s deceptively simple.
If I minimize my to do list, I have to prioritize, probably reducing or eliminating some things I might not necessarily want to reduce or eliminate. Minimizing isn’t always easy, but it can produce growth through the challenges.
What do you need to contract in your spiritual life? What do you need to tighten up to strengthen? Contraction requires focus. How are you focused on strengthening your faith?
I especially remember how concentrated on my core muscles I had to be when I was on the uneven bars in gymnastics. So many stunts required a body position involving slight (or quick) core contraction. If my body wasn’t positioned in just the right way, I would mess up the timing of a release, swing, or dismount. The contraction seemed like such a small component of the stunt; after all, there was nothing in the name of the stunts that said anything about contraction. However, the contraction was essential.
Tightening aspects of our faith is essential as well. Perhaps your faith is sloppy right now. You’re not able to get through a routine without falling all over the place, because your spiritual muscles aren’t tightening at just the right time to keep you on track. You need to think through the details of every move until you’ve retrained your muscles to work with your movement instead of creating obstacles.
Or perhaps your faith is so firmly established that you don’t have to give much thought to what you’re doing as you fly from one move to another. However, it’s important to appreciate how you got to where you are as well as how you can appreciate where you are and begin to push yourself to the next level. God won’t keep you at the novice level longer than is absolutely essential. He wants you to be world-class for him. You’re going to have to consistently practice and deal with a lot of bumps and bruises.
How do you need to be more intentional so you’ll spiritually grow? How do you need to tighten your muscles to tone them and help you complete what needs to be done in order to grow closer to God and to glorify him?
We are allowed to do all things, but not all things are good for us to do. We are allowed to do all things, but not all things help others grow stronger. (1 Corinthians 10:23)