On the Monday morning before Christmas I went to the gym for my usual first day of the week work out, water aerobics, a class I love. I was fully prepared to swim, but as I walked past the pool and glanced at my classmates who had already entered the water I had second and even third thoughts.
Now believe me, I’m fully aware that water aerobics is not now and likely never will be an Olympic sport. “Real athletes” and “gym regulars” have been known to poke fun at all those splashing about in the shallow end of the pool who seem to be suffering from the delusion that they are actually “working out.” We use things like Styrofoam weights and “noodles” to facilitate our workout, not exactly the equipment you’d love to have your picture taken with for the latest fitness magazine. For many reasons it would be nice if water aerobics were a private affair instead of an activity surrounded by window glass walls and situated in the corner of a very busy gym. Putting all self-consciousness aside, I’m a regular, and water aerobics has been a very real and effective form of exercise for me.
So what was the cause of my resistance on this particular day before Christmas 2009? As I walked toward the door I glanced in at my classmates and recognized right away that a new piece of equipment had been added. Placed atop the head of each swimmer was a bold set of reindeer felt antlers, some red, some green, and all sets complete with jingling bells. Front and center was our teacher whose noggin was covered in a red fluffy Santa hat. She was the “Little Saint Nick” and we were apparently to be her “Run, Run, Running Reindeer.”
Though I love our well-meaning teacher and knew this was her contribution to our holiday cheer, I was mortified. As I walked past the window toward the dressing room the whole silly looking class of women smiled and waved to me. There was no discrete way out of this. They had all seen my swim bag and I needed to exercise. I entered the pool area. Maybe if I completely ignore the obvious they’ll forget. But oh no! The teacher immediately exited the pool, reached into her little bag, and brought forth a set of red felt jingling Christmas dress ups for me. Apparently there were plenty to go around.
For the next hour we exercised hard and we laughed hard too! It was all very good for me I’m sure (the exercise and the “antlers”). I tend to be too self-conscious and to take myself a bit too seriously. In recovery I’m learning that as I live right there is always the possibility that I will look foolish to others.
Recently in my scripture study I ran across a phrase I have not understood and have previously passed over. This time for some reason I stayed with it until I had a better understanding. It was in 2 Nephi 9:18 which says: “But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever.”
The concept I couldn’t grasp was what it meant to “despise the shame” of the world? So, I got out my dictionary. The word despise means “to regard as beneath one’s notice and unworthy of consideration or interest.” The shame of the world is the guilt or disgrace that the world tries to lay on us as we try to “choose the right.”
In short we “despise the shame of the world” when we are willing to go forward and take action based not on how we might come across to “the world” but based on our best understanding of God’s will for us. We let go of the reaction of the world and of those who are of the world, even at the risk of looking silly, foolish, naive, or even down right ridiculous.
We are called to do good and let go of the reaction of others. In the world there will be never ending opportunities to work on our ability to focus on the Lord and proceed, unashamed. So don’t you worry! Your next opportunity to practice this principle is probably just around the corner, inside the gym, the restaurant, the theater, at church, at the mall, or right in your own home.
My desire is to set aside pride wherever it exists within me. I think I should keep a set of those reindeer antlers around as a funny reminder of a very real, very serious divine challenge. Figuratively speaking what each of us has to do is practice placing those reindeer antlers on our heads and jumping in the pool in every aspect of our lives.
Happy New Year to all!
By Nannette W.
Posted Thursday, January 7, 2010
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