“All the clouds that use to look like cars now look like clouds.”Maps and Atlases
I’m cheerleading our group of guys embarking on this year’s Exodus 90 journey with the ministry. For the uninitiated, it’s a powerful ninety days of prayer, fraternity, and asceticism while walking daily through the book of Exodus. For the hungry of heart – it’s a great road map to build your faith and discipline. Going through it three years in a row, I (but no more than Ani) was ready to give it a break. Each year since we’ve had leaders step up and take the helm with a fresh and hungry crew of guys.
There is something in the air this year that is getting me to go back to the disciplines we had hardily taken on. Not all of them, but I’m reintroducing a couple I found to be the most difficult at the time – not because I’m a glutton for punishment but because I’ve learned a lot about them since.
Concurrently with my contemplation of Exodus, I started watching Limitless with Chris Hemsworth on Disney+. It’s a series where Chris pursues healthier disciplines and explores lifestyle changes to test him and help him lead a longer life. The series isn’t too long and is aesthetically pleasing but two episodes, in particular, rang my bell – cold water and fasting, the two things that have been settling into my heart as the start day drew close.
Cold Showers – All three years of going through Exodus, this particular discipline had my number. I never enjoyed it. Never saw the benefit. Wussed out in some of those Buffalo cold-pipe January/February mornings with a twist of “just a little” warm to stop the pain. They just sucked.
I was introduced to a number of articles this past summer and then a guy named Wim Hof the Ice Man, dedicated to cold training and the positive impacts it has on your health and mindset. Bringing cold showers or baths into your life has a number of benefits. I started taking cold showers again this summer for a bit, which is really easy when it’s hot out but I did notice a change in my day – I had picked up more energy and a clearer mind later in the day. I also noticed a change in my inflammation management as my joints and guts recovered faster from my poor choice of eating wheat. I cooled off when fall rolled in and the water got cold. It was a bit of an experiment I wasn’t ready to commit to.
Chris’s challenge in this episode was to swim in open thirty-degree water in Scandinavia. Yea-no for me. But the training was interesting and could be downsized for the normal person.
Fasting – Hemsworth takes a number of these disciplines to the extreme with challenges that most people won’t attempt but the point isn’t to do an extreme challenge it’s to introduce the concepts in your own life. Chris makes a four-day fast while being active. Knowing I struggle with 24-hour fasts before bloodwork, I couldn’t imagine 96. Plenty of science and benefits to it which is great but the thing the show doesn’t go into is the faithful importance of fasting as a prayer. We’re so used to having food at our disposal, we can eat and snack whenever we want. We don’t usually go hungry. It’s easy to say, “I’m starving!” and have no idea what that feels like. Knowing hunger reminds us and our souls of the hunger we should have for something greater. When you fast, you’re lifting up that discomfort and pain as an offering to God and saying no to something so natural for a time for the supernatural.
The building block of discipline required for fasting and training yourself for cold overrides our cravings in our body and crosses a number of paths – spiritually, romantically, physically, and mentally. I haven’t done anything bigger than a 24-hour fast yet or jumped in one of the Wim ice baths, but maybe someday. But for now, I’m reclaiming a number of disciplines I had left behind with a new set of eyes and a new hunger for growth. While you’ll have to approach Limitless with a grain of salt, it’s well worth the watch. Perhaps you’ll find some nuggets that inspire you to action as well.
What are your thoughts on the conversation?
I love sharing insights and reflections for the faithfully productive – this article is from Righteous Co.’s weekly newsletter, The Climb. If you want to see content like this and more, subscribe here to get The Climb right in your email box, every Righteous Wednesday. You can also follow along on Instagram @righteousco.