For those newer PAX who aren’t familiar with it, BEYOND is a roving AO started by Maximus last year that is designed to push us beyond, both physically and personally. The workouts are supposed to be tough, and the message is supposed to be challenging. Combining the two is what makes this workout unlike the others.
After a brief hiatus to restructure it a bit, BEYOND made its return this morning with YHC on Q. It was humbling to be asked to kick it off, and definitely challenging to prepare. I tend to be good at putting together difficult workouts, but I usually don’t attach a message, as I do so much “messaging” for my job. But I accepted the challenge, struggled through preparing, and hoped that maybe a few PAX would make the effort to post.
To my surprise, 13 PAX joined YHC at Rivergate on a Thursday at 0500 (yep, not a normal day to be at Rivergate or a normal time to start). These men came ready to push it, so a disclaimer was given with a reminder that this is going to be harder than normal, so try not to modify. Dig deep and get it done; you didn’t come for it to be easy.
Following the disclaimer we took off on a fast mosey (avoiding a cement truck!) around Home Depot to Target for the warmup and message intro (content of message will be below).
Warm Up (such as it is)
- 50 (NOT low-slow) squats in cadence (don’t know the best way to actually list the numbers here, so I’m doing total count, not cadence count, which would have been 25, if that makes sense…)
- 50 merkins in cadence
- 100 SSH in cadence
RUN to parking lot in front of Pier 1. Time Hack: 4 minutes.
All PAX arrived with about 30 seconds to spare. Circle up in plank – aka, forward listening position – for next part of message (see below). Next round of workout:
- 50 jumping lunges in cadence (25/leg)
- 50 diamond merkins in cadence
- 100 high knees, single count
RUN to Just Fresh parking lot. Time Hack: 4 minutes.
All PAX arrived with about 30 seconds to spare. Circle up in plank for next part of message (see below). Next round of workout:
- 25 triple-pulsing sumo squat jumps in cadence (“20 would have been fine”)
- 50 pseudo planche merkins (request for exicon name change to “flippin’ merkins”)
- 50 bomb jacks
RUN out to 49, down to 160, and around CVS to parking lot by Friday’s. Time Hack: 5 minutes.
All PAX arrived with no time to spare. Close to the burpee penalty. But alas… Message given in plank then next part of workout:
- 30 triple-pulsing lunge jumps in cadence (“that’s more than 25”; “do you want to walk in circles forever?”)
- 50 breakdancer merkins in cadence
- 50 tuck jumps
RUN to the (no longer) dead end road in front of Home Depot. Time Hack: 5 minutes.
Bones led the PAX on a creative route that cut out roughly .2 miles, so all PAX arrived with a minute to spare. Message given then last round of exercises:
- 50 squat jumps in cadence
- 5 slo-mo merkins (request to call them “ferkins” for “f@$%(* merkins”)
- 20 run lunge high knee skips
RUN to COT. Time Hack: (a very generous) 3 minutes and 30 seconds.
All PAX arrived with time to spare. End in plank for the final thoughts before recovering at 0600 on the dot.
Standard COT with all the bells and whistles.
We have been talking a lot lately about being vulnerable and open about our lives and the struggles we face. There was a big push in March when we discussed Mental Health Awareness, and we’ve continued to encourage this among the PAX. And that’s great, and it should continue to be encouraged. But, as we pursue this, we need to be aware of what we are actually asking of people and consider if we – as individuals and as a group – are ready to actually take on what we are asking.
In our culture today – American culture, US Christian culture (for many of us), and F3 culture as well – we have placed a high value on being authentic, which is really what we are wanting when we want people to be vulnerable. We want them to be authentic. To be “real.” A lot of this comes from seeing so many prominent leaders crash and burn after some secret part of their life comes to light, usually in very embarrassing ways. We don’t want to be taken in or lied to, so we promote authenticity. But this heavy emphasis has led to a sort of initiation rite within our various groups. “I want to trust you, but only if you’re willing to be open and honest with me.”
So we try it. And somebody shares something like, “I really struggle with playing too many video games” (totally a made up example, so I’m not calling people out). I for one would not be able to relate with that person very well; if I’m honest with myself, I don’t see that as a big issue (though it definitely can be for the person dealing with it). Or it goes the other way, and in a spirit of authenticity, somebody shares something “big,” like an ongoing struggle with same-sex attraction. How would that be received in an all-male group such as F3? Now we are all uncomfortable. That’s too big or too weird of a struggle for us to relate with. It’s easy for us to relate with each other on marital struggles, or alcohol, or gambling. Or a big one in men’s groups would be porn. We can relate on these issues. But something big? Nope.
So, now we have limits. We have a scope of “acceptable” struggles. It has to be big enough that it doesn’t look like we are hiding something, but it can’t be so big that it’s intimidating or awkward to those in the group. And this inevitably leads to a couple big issues.
First, we have made certain struggles acceptable. We EXPECT you to struggle with something like porn, and if you don’t, you’re lying. You’re not being honest with yourself or others. So now we are essentially requiring this struggle as a rite of passage, but it also holds us back, because now you aren’t allowed to actually get past this struggle. You may improve a bit, but in order to be “real,” you need to continue to struggle with it, because if you somehow manage to get past it, then you’re untouchable or unrealistic. How can I relate with you now that you’re not struggling with what I’m struggling with? I need you to struggle so that I can feel better. So we hold each other back.
But, this scope of “acceptable struggles” also encourages a “faux authenticity,” a fake honesty where somebody either says they struggle with something they don’t struggle with in order to fit in, or they under-share, holding back the big struggles so they don’t overwhelm the group or get shunned. You come across as being authentic, because you shared a real (or, realistic) struggle that we can relate with, but in reality your struggles are completely different and you’re just struggling silently in a crowd. And we don’t take the initiative to ask questions or press deeper, because your struggle fits our expected framework. So we build this community essentially based entirely at the surface level, where we think we know each other, but we’re all withholding something, all the while seeming authentic and vulnerable.
So what do we do with this? Because I don’t think I’m alone in seeing this and living this out.
Are we actually ready to embrace real authenticity? Are we ready to meet people where they are – where they REALLY are – whether the struggles seem small or huge? And then, are we ready to walk with them out of these struggles and into victory, rather than holding them back so we can feel better about our own struggles? Are we ready to ask the hard questions, and have those questions asked of us?
Because I know that there are men in our group who are dealing with some awful stuff. And we say we want them to be vulnerable and share. But do we really want that? And are we ready to love them and embrace them and carry them when they do?
For those struggling right now, this is not a call for you to start having verbal diarrhea all over COT. That might be your thing, and I guess that’s fine if it is. But for most of you – most of us – it’s a call to start small. Find a guy or a group of guys – a shield lock – with whom you build mutual trust and can share openly and love freely. This is admittedly hard, especially if you’ve been burned in the past. But it is also freeing, especially when you realize that your struggle – that struggle you’ve carried with you for years and years – is not who you are. And there are people around you who will love you even if they know your junk, because your junk is not YOU.
We talk about leaving no man where we find him, but are we ready to really embrace this and walk with each other through the junk? Are we ready to BE authentic and also allow others to be as well? To foster true authenticity rather than force faux authenticity?
Imagine the impact this can have on our group – on our community as a whole – if we have small groups of men how are truly open with each other and walking with each other out of our struggles. It’s a big task, but it’s worth pursuing.
Are you ready?
Thanks to WitchHunt for the opportunity to lead and the encouragement to push the PAX physically and personally. This was a huge growing opportunity for me as I prepared, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to think through all of this. I hope some of you out there can get something out of this as well.