The Handwriting on the Wall Ball Wall

Do everything without grumbling …” (Philippians 2:14, NIV).

Last night was CrossFit Open 13.3 at our box. It’s been awe-inspiring to stand back and see the powerful truths God is highlighting through this competition, seemingly fashioning it into a fitness buff’s parable. From the power of positive words and faith-restoring cheers to the value of camaraderie forged through shared challenges and triumphs, he is showing me just how marvelous, just how matchless, and just how mighty the body of Christ truly is. This week’s handwriting on the “wall ball wall” was no exception…

The workout this week was a repeat of last year’s 12.4 WOD, a twelve minute AMRAP comprised of 150 wall balls, 90 double-unders, and 30 muscle-ups[1]. In twelve minutes, it is the athlete’s goal to progress as far through this beastly workout as possible. Some competitors, who I suspect are superhuman vigilantes and cape-wearing world-savers by night, have even managed to begin the sequence for a second time!

I jokingly dubbed this WOD “30 Wall Balls” for myself for the simple reason that I, up until yesterday, have included wall balls in my “Top 5 Most-Hated Things List,” and thirty reps would have been a personal record. [2] My bitterness toward the exercise swiftly escalated from a bearable disfavor to full-blown disdain during last year’s 12.4, and I can tell you, the transition wasn’t pretty…

A fourteen pound medicine ball is an unwieldy object – perhaps more so to me than to others with better coordination – and feeling it crash through my hands and into my chin or chest after every throw was not a pleasurable experience. Standing in my driveway, staring up at a nine-foot-high target of black tape that I was supposed to hit with spot-on accuracy 150 times, I made a decision after twenty sloppy repetitions: “I’ve had enough. I quit.” With the camera still recording and my husband still lovingly encouraging me as my coach and judge to continue trying, I stormed into the house bearing an irreversible hatred for wall balls. Or so I thought…

As soon as 13.3 was announced on Wednesday, I began replaying last year’s shameful attempt in my head. I didn’t want to feel that frustration again, and frankly, I wanted an excuse not to do it. I couldn’t even get through the first three minutes last year. Fourteen pounds might as well be forty. A nine-foot target might as well be ninety feet. I’m not strong enough. My stamina stinks. Bah humbug!

I thought I had an excuse through my chiropractor. You see, she’s been working on the back of my knee for just over a week, using ART (Active Release Techniques) to treat what she suspects is a strained gastrocnemius, a muscle that composes the calf. The back of my knee gives me a mild amount of pain whenever I squat or jump repeatedly. Maybe attempting 150 wall balls is medically ill-advised, I thought to myself.

I texted my chiropractor yesterday afternoon. Already aware that I had a rocky relationship with wall balls and excited for me to conquer them, she replied thusly:

open 13.3 213


Uhhgggg…She’s not helping my case at all! I drove to her office where she massaged my leg a bit and adjusted not only my spine, but my attitude. She assured me that my knee would not be exacerbated by performing wall balls, then wrote on the back of my hand:

open 13.3 211

How could I not be pumped up after that?! She was right. I was behaving like a “Negative Nancy.” I was letting the fear of frustration and one lousy experience prohibit me from even trying to prove myself tougher, both mentally and physically, than last year.

This doctor’s visit helped cure me of my bad attitude. I completed 13.3 with a score of 127 reps, 107 better than last year, and did so with a smile and a splendid sense of accomplishment. Had I chosen to sit it out, I would’ve wondered, What if…?

I know wall balls are just an exercise, but they’ve taught me a lesson: What if? is the remark of the overcome; Why not? is the resolve of the overcomer.

God’s gift of life to us is too short to sit on the sidelines, allowing fear, anxiety, doubt, and downbeat attitudes to keep us from victory. We will stumble in this life. We will fall. We will drop the metaphorical medicine ball; the important thing is that we call on God to give us the strength to help us pick it back up again.


Stay fit, stay faithful ~<3 Di

[1] A wall ball is an excellent conditioning exercise in which you stand with a medicine ball 16-24 inches from a wall, perform a front squat, then launch the ball to a target (10 feet above for men, 9 feet above for women) marked on the wall using a push-pressing motion. A muscle-up is a highly advanced gymnastic movement performed on rings suspended from the ceiling in which the athlete uses a forceful kipping, or swinging, motion to propel his or her body over the rings into the bottom of a dip, followed by a press to emerge from the dip.

[2] For those curious, my other four “Most-Hated Things” are snakes, sharks, a host of ubiquitous grammatical errors including, but not limited to, the use of “your” instead of “you’re,” “alot” instead of “a lot,” and “their” instead of “they’re,” and the temporary cessation of air flow in airplanes before take-off that always makes me question silently if I will ever inhale fresh air again. Oh, and having to turn off my electrical devices before take-off! Okay, that’s six, “Six Most-Hated Things”.


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