Recently, I have been reading a lot about symbolism, types, similitudes, shadows, etc. and in nearly every book related to these subjects, the author(s) cite Moses 6:63 which reads: “And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me.” Once I started to look, I realized that this is totally true, and not just true, but really exciting. I have found that it is very eye opening, and surprisingly easy and incredibly fun to identify types or likenesses of the gospel, the atonement, and Jesus Christ in all things.
The best part is that all really does mean all. It doesn’t mean most, or a few, or select, it means all. It states that we can find these likenesses in spiritual things AND in temporal things (which we so often discount as just ‘things’ and give no attention to). So, if we seek to find these likenesses, we will find them. It also means that if we aren’t looking for an added measure of understanding or vision, we might only be seeing a portion (maybe even a small number) of the intended lessons, which as we are told, are in all things on the earth. That means at the grocery store, in the library, while driving, doing the dishes, gardening, or maybe even watching a movie. Also, it seems that a major purpose of these likenesses is so that we can understand a principle, or relate it in a way that is understandable to a larger number of people (to help us teach them), after all, didn’t the savior use very common things that were found in all the earth (fig trees, vineyards, feasts, birds, trails, roads, etc.) to teach the best lessons?
One likeness that I have found, that has become increasingly helpful in understanding the gospel, is a workout program called Insanity Max:30. Now, as we all know, there are several workout programs available and many of them could be viewed in this same general vein, but this particular one has a unique component (secondary component) that I feel is crucial to understand – especially in a gospel sense.
The main purpose of this workout program is to change the participant into something better, something healthier, and something stronger. But, as part of this underlying purpose, there is a secondary purpose, which is to have the participant fail all along the way – or as Shawn T puts it – max out. Each of the daily workouts have been organized and prepared to be so hard, that you can’t actually finish them without failing. This may seem like it’s defeating the purpose, but it’s not. It’s doing two things – it’s helping you track your progress (as you are encouraged to write your ‘max out’ time each workout and see how much you are improving over time), and it’s helping you to understand that failure is not only ok, but it’s inevitable, and it’s been part of the plan all along. Failure (as we’ve already noted here) is sometimes a cause for celebration. In this particular case, if you ‘max out’ during a work out, it means you gave it everything you had, until you literally could not do it any more. Once you’ve ‘maxed out’, you take a quick break, catch your breath, and jump right back in – until you max out again. This is repeated for a period of 30 minutes. It’s pretty intense. This goes on 6 days a week, with a rest day on Sunday. Every day is a grind, especially if (when) you forget the underlying purpose of the program.
As part of any workout program, there are also tips or rules to help any participant and rules about things to avoid in order to get the most out of the 60-day challenge. Some rules are to give it your best every day, to eat right, to get enough sleep, and to prepare mentally. The things to avoid (don’ts) are essentially the opposites of the tips (do’s) such as lack of sleep, eating unhealthy foods, not working hard or skipping workouts in general and if the participant either fails to do the do’s or continues to do the don’ts, it (they) may become ‘stumbling blocks’ that will cause them to become discouraged or even quit.
At the beginning of the program, or more accurately, when sitting in a comfy chair, sipping a lemonade making grand plans to do the program, it is pretty easy to envision the end results; ripped abs, killer arms, and cardio endurance for days, etc. and the participant thinks to themselves – I got this, 30 minutes is cake. I drive to work for 30 minutes every day and it is a breeze. Then, you actually put the DVD in and 2 minutes into the warm-up on day 1, you realize that your lungs are on fire, your legs are Jell-O, and you can’t even recognize the wet noodles that are hanging from your shoulders. You look at the folks on the video and they seem to be gliding along with ease, barely breaking a sweat, and you look at them and think – they must be on steroids and amped up on something crazy – because there is no way that anyone can do this. This moment – the moment when your mind starts to come up with alternatives to this torture is called the beginning of ‘the grind’.
This moment hits you in the face every single day during every single workout – no exception. Whether it’s in minute 3 or minute 23, it will come – and that’s the point. The point is to see how you will respond to ‘the grind’ when it hits. Will you grind through it? Will you max out and say, that’s just too hard, – I’m going to grab an ice cream, or will you challenge yourself to max out? And once you’ve maxed out, you have another decision to make; have I maxed out for the day, or do I catch my breath and jump back in? Or, do I mentally look for my first opportunity in minute 7 to ‘max out’ on the plyo-burpee-lunge combo and bail for the day and then convince ourselves (and maybe others) that we nailed the whole thing?
During this program, Shawn T tries to motivate his groupies by telling them to ‘dig deeper’ and ‘focus in there’ and ‘you can do it, I know you can do it’. He has even created an even crazier workout to directly address the mental grind called ‘Friday Night Fight’ referring to the fight between your mind and your body (especially during that ‘grind’ when your body is telling you that you should have maxed out 4 minutes ago) – in order to help your mind overcome your flesh – even if it’s just for 1 more minute.
If and when we push through that grind, making it just one more minute – something happens, we start to see the models on the workout video fall down, they collapse, they ‘max out’ and shake their head in disbelief and how ridiculous the workout really is, and we see Shawn T congratulate them for their efforts – and we realize – hey, these guys aren’t robots; they are actually sweating and working really hard, they are going through the exact same grind as me, and you realize, that they just might have been a little better prepared for this particular workout than me – but none of them are perfect either – because one by one – they max out. They walk over to the board and write their name alongside the point in time where they maxed out. No judgment, no ridicule, no criticism – just encouragement for making it as long as they did, and then they jump right back into it – right back into the middle of the grind.
The point that should be remembered during the grind and every time we are in the ‘Friday Night Fight’ with our minds is what the overall goal is, and what the overall goal is not. The overall goal is to change, or to become stronger. The overall goal is not to perform each and every workout with absolute perfection and never break a sweat. That’s just impossible. The overall goal is to give it everything you have, every single day, and improve. Then, at the end of the 60-day period, take satisfaction in doing your best – and then start again. This is best done at the end of the program, when you can see the end from the beginning – and see how much you’ve changed – even when you were failing all along the way. The overall goal is not to give up as soon as it gets hard, or even way too hard. The overall goal is to not forget the overall goal – and to try and remember why you started the workout program in the first place. The overall goal is to get back up when you’ve maxed out, and to start again right where you left off, and to get up tomorrow when you’ve missed a day, and to do your absolute best. The overall goal is the process of getting better, which can only happen when you meet ‘the grind’ face to face and try and beat it over and over again.
Now the question becomes, how does that have any likeness to the gospel? For convenience (and because it’s fun), I have created a table to illustrate some similarities.
|Insanity Max:30||The Gospel of Jesus Christ|
|The overall purpose of the program is to become stronger, better, healthier.||The overall purpose of the gospel is to become something and someone stronger, better, healthier.|
|A secondary purpose is to ‘max out’ or to fail.||Part of the point of mortality is ‘to fall’ or to fail. This helps us rely wholly on the savior and keep us humble.|
|Failure to perform the workouts perfectly is inevitable.||Failure to keep the commandments perfectly is inevitable.|
|The workout program starts with a warm-up followed by increasingly difficult moves, combinations, and level of difficulty. A knowledge of the fundamentals is key.||In the gospel, as our understating and maturity increases, the level of responsibility or ‘load’ is increased to reflect that growth. A knowledge and testimony of the fundamentals (principles) is key.|
|At some point in the workout, difficulty comes. How we approach and work through that difficulty will largely determine our outcome (not to mention the mental benefits of lessons learned, helpful methods, etc.)||At some point in mortality, trials and difficult times will come. How we approach and work through that difficulty will largely determine our outcome (not to mention the intangible lessons learned and testimonies gained).|
|It is easy to envision the end results of completing the project prior to actually starting.||It is easy to envision the results of the gospel (living in the celestial kingdom) prior to actually starting and trying to live a celestial law.|
|At some point during every workout, you will hit ‘the grind’.||At some point during every day/week/month, you will hit ‘the grind’.|
|Rules (do’s and don’ts) are given for maximum performance.||Commandments (do’s and don’ts) are given more maximum performance.|
|Failure to obey the rules results in lack of progress. Those who see the rules as ‘silly’ or unnecessary may not keep them and are highly unlikely to complete the program – especially during ‘the grind’.||Failure to obey the commandments results in a lack of progress. Those who see the commandments as ‘silly’ or unnecessary are highly unlikely to complete or stick with the program – especially during ‘the grind’.|
|The grind, and how the participant responds to the most difficult portion of the program, is in large part the entire purpose of the program.||The grind (trials, difficulties, stress, etc.) and how the individual responds to them is in large part the principal purpose of the gospel. “And we will prove them herewith” (Abr. 3:25)|
|Giving your best to the program will make you tired – really tired.||Giving your best to the gospel will make you tired – really tired.|
|At first, it may seem if the other participant (models) are perfect, yet as the workout progresses – they fail, just as everyone else does.||It may seem that others are perfect, yet everyone has failed, everyone makes mistakes, nobody is perfect, and everyone is in need of the atonement.|
|Just when you think you’ve reached the point where you can’t handle any more – Shawn T asks for a little more. He asks and motivates us.||During times of struggle (the grind) or when we think we are maxed out – Christ asks for just a little bit more. His example is a perfect motivator and he helps us give just a little more.|
|As we near the completion of the program, we can look back and appreciate ‘the process’ of improving more than the small details and exact times of failure. We understand that while we haven’t been absolutely perfect, the direction that we are headed is more important that the specific location where we currently sit, and we feel motivation to continue and improve.||As we periodically reflect on our gospel journey, we can look and reflect and/or appreciate the tender mercies along the way, the progress we’ve made, and try not to worry about the little setbacks, or specific failures we’ve made. We can understand and see that ‘the process’ of becoming is what is important. The direction is more important than the specific location we are currently in, and we put more value in who we have become rather than what we have done. We feel motivation to continue and improve – and to do our very best.|
|This workout program includes coaches, communities, message boards, etc. to provide motivation, support, and experience to help users all along the way.||The gospel and the church are set up in a way to provide teachers, leaders, bishops, counselors, etc. to provide motivation, support, and valuable experience to help us all along the way. Not to mention prayer, which is a priceless tool for support.|
While participating in the program, if you skip a day, or you miss a workout, you are not disqualified from further participation, nor are you forced to start over at the very beginning. You are encouraged to get back up, and pick up right where you left off the next day. The idea is to not let one missed day turn into 2 missed days, which could turn into several missed days, which could turn into quitting altogether.
|In the gospel, if you skip a day (reading scriptures, prayer, etc.) you are not disqualified from further participation, nor are you forced to start over at the very beginning. You are encouraged to get back up, and pick up right where you left off the next day. The idea is to not let one missed day turn into 2 missed days, which could turn into several missed days, which could turn into quitting altogether.|
|In case of injury or doctor’s orders, the program may need to be suspended and or stopped until healing/preparation for re-starting the program can take place. It is also recommended that periodic evaluations take place (with physicians and or coaches) to ensure that you are physically able to continue or to discuss progress, goals, and any needed supplements and/or dietary needs.||In rare cases of severe spiritual injury (or priesthood leaders orders), certain blessings or privileges may need to be suspended until proper healing and preparation for recommencing the program can take place. It is also requisite that periodic evaluations take place (with bishops or leaders) to ensure that you are spiritually sound, measure progress and goals, report on successes/hardships, and to plan for any supplements and/or spiritual dietary needs.|
|While participating in the program, it is likely that you will start to see results, and it is also likely, others will see the results in you (added energy, more confidence, physical changes, happiness, etc.) and ask you to explain what you have been doing, or what changes you have made in your life to bring about this mighty change. This will provide you with an opportunity to share your feelings about the program, how it has helped you, what the program is, and some of the benefits of it.||While participating in the gospel, it is likely that you will start to see spiritual results, and it is also likely, others will see the results in you (added happiness, more confidence, countenance changes, increase of service, etc.) and ask you to explain what you have been doing, or what changes you have made in your life to bring about this mighty change. This will provide you with an opportunity to share your feelings about the gospel, how it has helped you, what the program is, and some of the benefits of it (i.e. share your testimony as a missionary).|
|While participating in the workout program, 14 million things will come up during the days, weeks, and months that could distract you or prevent you from working out. If you let them, these distractions will prevent you from reaching your goals, even when they seem to be legitimate distractions that need attention. Preparing a plan beforehand, and establishing a routine/schedule that is firm will assist in helping deal with these distractions. (i.e. working out early in the morning prior to the day helps complete the program before distractions can become a concern, whereas waiting to ‘fit the workout in somewhere during the day’ seems to be more difficult).||While participating in the gospel program, 14 bazillion things will come up during the days, weeks, and months that could distract you or prevent you from spiritually working out. If you let them, these distractions will prevent you from reaching your goals, even when they seem to be legitimate distractions that need attention. Preparing a plan beforehand, and establishing a routine/schedule that is firm will assist in helping deal with these distractions. (i.e. scripture study early in the morning prior to the day helps you to get your shield on before distractions can become a concern, whereas waiting to ‘fit the study in somewhere during the day’ seems to be more difficult).|
|Shawn T says (about the program) “if it wasn’t a challenge, everyone could do it, and it wouldn’t get you the results you want”. This means that any workout program that doesn’t cause you to come face to face with ‘the grind’ and cause you to ‘dig deeper’ won’t produce the results and the intestinal fortitude necessary to produce the body and results that you really want.||Sheri Dew says (about the gospel) “If it was easy, it wouldn’t be hard”, and Joseph Smith said (about the gospel) “a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.”|
|If you push through the workout program, and you complete it, you are pretty quick to admit that everything you put into it (while incredibly difficult in that moment) was worth it, and the results are actually greater than the sacrifices made.||
If you continue through (and especially in) the gospel, you are quick to admit that everything that you have put into it (given to the cause of Jesus Christ), while at points may be incredibly difficult, was worth it, and the results and blessings that are obtained, are greater than anything that is given up along the way.
The idea of this post is to help us (all of us) realize that sometimes we are in the middle of ‘the grind’, and when we are in the middle of that grind, the best thing we can do is just keep going, or as other people (likenesses in all the world) have said, “just keep swimming”1, “keep moving forward”2, or “keep on keepin’ on”3. We knew in our minds that when we started this gospel program, that there would be days where our best was just making it until bedtime without a full scale explosion– and that’s okay, because we all max out – what’s important is that we get up as soon as we can, we jump right back into it, and we give everything that we have left again and again. And, it’s to help us realize that ‘the process’ of becoming like Christ requires a whole lot of ‘grinding’ just like ‘the process’ of becoming fit requires a whole lot of ‘grinding’. We just have to remember that we can’t forget about (or be angry with) ‘the process’ compared to the end result (goal of perfection), because the end result happens to be directly related to what we put into the process all along the way.
I started with a scripture, and I’ll end with a scripture – but this one is to help us understand that when we are in the grind, those moments, those days, those weeks, those months, or even those years – that’s right where we should be, and that’s right where the sweet spot is, and as hard as it is to remember, that spot (the grind) is the one spot that creates the greatest growth in each of us. Of that moment, Shawn T says (when it really starts to burn); “don’t run from the work, feel the work”. And that is the qualifier for progress. As Nephi (quoting Isaiah) reminded us in 1 Ne. 20:10 it’s from that spot where he chooses us; “For behold, I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction”. So when we find ourselves in the furnace – and we think we are maxing out – just follow Shawn T’s advice and “give it one more minute. Dig a little deeper and focus in there, and I promise you, you will see results”.
1 Dory (Finding Nemo)
2 Cornelius, and really the entire Robinson family (Meet the Robinsons)
3 Embarrassingly enough, I just used a reference from Joe Dirt in my blog post about the gospel.