Sunday, November 04, 2007

Restoration: The Culmination of 5 Years of Work

Z-Health's R-Phase stands for Rehabilitation, Re-Education, and Restoration.

Yesterday, I competed in my first weightlifting meet since February 2000. The results? Unimportant. The fact that I did is a testimony to two things: Z-Health as a system for healing the body and improving performance and the healing power of Jesus Christ who will heal the heart and restore the mind. I'll get to the second one in a minute.

I decided five weeks ago that I was going to train for this meet. No time like the present I thought. I had planned 30 out of 35 days to train. I think I actually got about 19 days of platform work due to traveling. On most of the other days I performed either R- or I-Phase dynamic joint mobility work. After compressed nerve roots at L4-L5-S1, multiple labral tears in both hips, including damage and loss of articular cartilage, arthritis, and damage to patellar cartilage, I competed and walked away unscathed.

I surprised everyone at the meet except myself. At one point, the meet director, a former US Olympic team coach, asked me when my birthday was. (I'll be 35 next month.) He and the scorer, an older gentleman, then informed me that I could compete next year in the Master's division where there was less competition. I told them I didn't want to. They inferred that I didn't want to compete. I told them I wanted to compete in the Senior division for the sole reason that there is more competition. This shocked both of them. You see, guys in their mid-30s are supposed to be slowing down, not speeding up. Sure, my total was 30kg below what it was in 2000. But, I only trained for 5 weeks. This is the PROMISE of Z-Health: Restored function, improved performance. I am a testimony that the system works.

Now for the really exciting part. About 3-4 years ago I read John Eldredge's, Wild At Heart. It changed my life. In it, he declares that
1. Man is made in God's image, and
2. Because of that, we are designed to come through in a pinch--it is our utility; and
3. Every man has a question that needs to be answered, "Do I have what it takes?"
4. The answer to this question is given to us by more often than not, a male authority figure. And more often than not, the response is "No" or "I don't know."
5. This creates a Wound to the heart of a young boy and interferes with God's utility for us as men.
6. And because of this, we as men compensate for our wound by becoming a Poseur--the person others see--which is a mask we wear--often in the form of our strengths, to protect the wound and the emotional pain caused by it.
After identifying the problem, Eldredge provides the solution: Jesus Christ alone can heal a man's wound and restore to him his utility.

I am also a testimony to this process. Jesus healed the wound in my heart yesterday by allowing me to return to the platform and compete. It's what I love to do. However, my wound interfered with my love and so the Poseur in me defined myself, my self-image, as a weightlifter--"Geoff Neupert, Weightlifter. No, no, weightlifter--snatch, clean and jerk--you're thinking of powerlifting--two different things."

Most men identify themselves with the things they are good at: businessman, weightlifter, entrepeneur, doctor, etc--you get the idea--and then they "become" that thing. You know these guys--the guys who are still living in their past glory days or whose moods change like the tides based on how work is going-up, down, up, down...

Anyway, Jesus has been working on this wound for the last 3-4 years. Here's the hardest part out of the whole process: You have to go into your wound in order for Him to heal it. What's that look like? Well for years, my self-worth, my identity came from my physical strength, and to a certain extent, my size. Looking back, I struggled with the amount of time I obsessed over weightlifting and knew it wasn't normal and there was something wrong. I tried to quit repeatedly but my heart was drawn to it over and over again--like an addiction. I didn't know why. Now I know it was my identity, the Poseur, based on my wound. So, as part of the healing process, I had to be stripped of the weightlifting in order to not define myself by my sport but by God's love and acceptance of me, just as I am. I find it no coincidence that when I first started reading this book, both my knees were giving me problems. Then my right hip went in early 2005. My left in September 2005. Finally both knees locked up in January 2006. I was done for. At my end. I was forced to quit weightlifting because I couldn't move.

Yesterday, as I drove down to Savannah (a 5 hour trip), I wrestled with anxiety and fear--the same things many athlete wrestle with right before competition. Then I heard God speak: "Fight." So I fought. (I'll leave this part out cause from the outside looking in, it's just weird.) After much prayer, I heard God speak about the purpose of this meet: "Restoration." Then two more words almost in succession: "Presence"--"I am with you," and "Pleasure"--"I delight in you and am glad you are doing this." This was EXACTLY what I needed to hear.

So, yesterday, for the first time EVER as a competitive athlete, I was calm before and during the competition. No jitters. No butterflies. No anxiety. No diarrhea. No upset stomach. This is what I've been waiting for my entire life. Yesterday, for the first time ever, I knew that I was loved and accepted by the One who mattered most--My Father, My Creator, My Savior, My Lord--and for the first time in my life I was free to enjoy the competition. I am no longer enslaved to the fear, the Poseur. I am free to be the man that God created me to be which means I can go forth into my world and create--since I'm created in His image. I will never forget what it felt like to step on that platform and to be free from anxiety and to actually live in the moment--pressure-free. I can still see everything from my foot position, the bar, my hand placement, the feel of me stretching out, everything from those moments. My heart wasn't racing. My palms weren't sweaty. I was composed. All I saw was the bar. And those words: Restoration. Presence. Pleasure.

Why am I writing about this? About "religion?" Well first, I'd be a liar at best if I said I did this all on my own. How can I keep silent about what God's done for me? How can I take credit for His work? It's like having the cure for cancer and not telling anybody. And second, I'm not talking about "religion." I'm talking about Jesus--a Person. The Consummate and Ultimate Man. I'm talking about how He changed my life, not some church service. The movie Chariots of Fire, is about two track athletes, one of whom, Eric Liddell, said this, "When I run, I feel God's pleasure." Yesterday, while I was standing on that platform, I felt the exact same thing. Now when I lift, I can say I feel God's pleasure instead of lifting to prove something to others or even myself. I now lift for the sheer pleasure of it. It's one of the things God made me to do. In doing so, I can share this part of my life with others and tell them about how much God loves them and how much He wants to heal their wounds.

You may think I'm crazy. I don't care. Yesterday, God restored to me my heart, the place from which we are meant to live, the place which fuels and drives our true passions. The place that gets things done. He did this through the vehicles of Z-Health and John Eldredge's writing, and of course some other things, like friends who spoke truth into my life. So, I must publicly thank these individuals who have been a part of this journey with me, spurring me on in some way, shape or form, whether they know it or not. So thank you Rif, Pavel, Brett Jones, Eric Cobb, Josh Henkin, Kyle Battis, and Tom Stafford. Thank you, Men.

Oh, and just in case you're wondering, I went 5 for 6 yesterday--better than I've ever done. I normally go 4 for 6 in my meets. I snatched 120kg and clean and jerked 140kg.

Soli Deo Gloria. To God Alone Be the Glory.

12 Comments:

Blogger Tim Anderson said...

I know God was smiling yesterday as you competed. That is my goal; to make God smile. I'm glad you did well. I love your testimony. What a journey, and it's just getting started. Keep fighting. You have what it takes. God bless.

7:26 PM  
Blogger Mark Reifkind said...

well done mate! great comeback and thoughtful post. just more good things to come in the future.congratulations.

6:39 PM  
Blogger Geoff Neupert said...

Thanks fellas. Upon reflection, this is one of the top 4 things in my life. Big Day, Big Deal! I will remember this always.

7:27 PM  
Blogger Franz Snideman said...

Geoff,

First of congratulations on your meet. It takes courage to do what you did! Second, I commend you on your faith and for sharing what God has done for you and is doing for you! And third, I admit that the Eldrdige book is amazing. Thank you for reminding me to pull it out and read it again!!!

12:11 AM  
Blogger Mike T Nelson said...

Awesome work Geoff and what an amazing testimonial! Excellent job!
Much greater things are yet to come.
Rock on
Mike N

10:18 AM  
Blogger BJ Bliffert said...

Awesome Geoff,

And to think, I came here to ask you a quick weightlifting question.

Great introspective post, really great post.

Weightlifting question can wait, gonna order that book quick.

BJ

8:33 PM  
Blogger Iron Tamer said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:09 PM  
Blogger Iron Tamer said...

Awesome post Geoff. Reminds me of how we don't need God to prove his exeistence to us, we need to seek to prove outrselves to Him.

Hardstyle!

10:14 PM  
Blogger Geoff Neupert said...

Franz, Mike, and BJ, DW, Glad the post gave you some insights.

It's amazing how God wants us to know that He accepts us just as we are and that we don't need to prove ourselves to anyone, including Him. He already knows we've got what it takes cause that's the way He designed us! What's better yet is that we don't need to prove anything to Him since He created us, He already knows what we're capable of--we just need to believe Him at His Word.

This is the really cool thing: He's always speaking, we just need to listen. In the same vein, today I was talking to a good friend of mine who's older and much wiser than me who affirmed me with regard to a certain situation with the exact words, "Dude, you've got what it takes..." I don't know if he chose those words purposely, or if it was "coincidental" on his part. This is the EXACT positive answer to every man's question. Interesting that God chose this individual to speak those words at that particular moment.

5:36 PM  
Blogger billybill said...

That was a very inspirational blog Jeff. I am in the middle of my journey with pain and all that it is teaching me and I am learning as a result. You may remember I talked with you a while back about working together and you suggested I see Dr. Cobb. Well, he recommended that I see Kevin Perrone at TPT. I'm working on neural tension at the time in my scalenes. My email is billybill02@aol.com I don't think I have yours. But hearing your inspiration words, man, gives me even more encouragement to not give up. I'm really happy for you man. Congratulations isn't the word, maybe thanks to God in His grace that he blessed you with success. We don't truly know what our blessings are, but based on the responses you've gotten and the love and satisfaction you've experienced... my humble mind calls this one a blessing.

5:30 PM  
Blogger Jason Rhymer said...

Geoff,

Fantastic post, in fact, can I have permission to use it in a Sunday School lesson some time? The Aldredge book has been on my list for awhile, so I will definitely check it out.

I love how the results of your meet took a back seat to the journey you have been on spiritually and physically. Great work friend! God bless!

12:18 PM  
Blogger Mike T Nelson said...

Geoff,
I have sent your post here to several people as an example of what intelligent hard work and shear determination can accomplish and how it transforms you. All of them have been blown away. You need to publish this somewhere. I think it if your best blog post that I can remember.
Keep rockin!
Mike N

10:10 AM  

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