Monday morning after the holiday break, we were all struggling to wake up and get back into routine. The day started with a predicament as my son’s Pop-tart got stuck, no, not just stuck, but fell down below the shelf on the inside of the toaster, and the shelf actually sunk its’ teeth into it. We attempted to pull it out by using our handy-dandy wooden tongs. But to no advantage, the mangled Pop-tart slowly crumbled into bit size pieces. We even dumped the whole toaster upside down and the stubborn pastry did not budge; it was wedged into the bottom of the toaster. My day was starting to turn south in aggravation, but I decided to be thankful – this was now an opportunity for me to clean out the thousands of tiny crumbs inside my toaster tray. The battle of the Pop-tart was the beginning of my early spring cleaning spree!
One of my goals for 2010 while the books are at print has been to clean my entire house, each room from top to bottom, de-cluttering drawers and closets, dusting blinds, curtains, baseboards, and the list continues. I hate to admit it, but I have let things go for so long. Let’s see…I think it’s been about 2 years since I’ve really attempted a deep cleaning. (Do you know what I started two years ago? I started getting serious about these books!)
When we lived in High Point, we took cleaning seriously. Twice a year we would rent our home to furniture buyers who were in town during the furniture market. I’d strip the floors and re-wax them, wash windows inside and out, vacuum every corner – high and low. (I was getting paid to clean then, but it was very good discipline!) Although, now when I look back, I spent way too much time trying to make things perfect. Now, that I have relaxed a little…I figure, we are probably a little healthier living with some dirt in the house.
You know as I think back to the hours I spent cleaning, I briefly thought what a waste of time. But then I remembered…the prayers. The prayers that I prayed as I cleaned, scrubbed, changed the sheets…that our home would be a place of refuge, a place our visitors from Seattle would find God, and find…true rest. Maybe they’d discover God’s love for them from a book off of our shelves written by friends – C.S. Lewis, Oswald Chambers, Elizabeth Elliott and others. Or maybe the scripture hanging on our walls might touch their heart and open their eyes. My perception of my time cleaning was changed when I remembered the prayers that accompanied the cleaning. The time spent in prayer is never a waste.
Another goal of mine this month, along with getting my house in shape, it to get my body in shape! But I first need to find a solution to the pain in my side. (No, I am not referring to my husband. ?) But I’ve had an ache in my hip that’s kept me from running. It really amazes me that while I exercise to take care of my body, I just end up hurting myself! Then I have to stop exercising for it to heal, which defeats the purpose, don’t you think? And I also discovered, it is way easier for my body to get out of shape, than it is to get back into shape.
For several months I’ve cut back on the distance of my runs. I continually ached, especially after I ran, or sat to write for an extended period. Over the holidays I didn’t do much exercise at all, and I have finally stopped altogether. It was so hard for me not to do anything – I’ve exercised all of my life. My peers continued to tell me “Oh, it just takes longer to heal the older you get.” Obviously, I don’t have the patience to be sill and heal. I am sure by not stopping my workouts to allow the healing; it has caused me to reinjure my wound.
So Monday morning, my caring husband sent me to a recommended sports medicine doctor. I was hesitant to go, I had been getting a little better, but I have been so aggravated with the nagging pain; I was ready to get some help and be well.
The doctor asked me several question about the location, causes, and longevity of the pain, then came the skills part of my evaluation. He asked me to do a few squats and lunges. Sounds easy, huh? I did a few wobbly bends and started breaking out in a sweat…mostly out of embarrassment. The doctor said, “You have stability issues. For someone who’s a runner and exercises, I’m really surprised!” He also mentioned that I had one leg that was longer than the other. I was starting to feel like the Pop-tart in the toaster! I’m finally getting my mind together and my body is falling apart!
Later after discussing the morning’s event with my family, (we see more clearly after we talk things out don’t we?) I know I was nervous, and I started to make excuses for my wobbly lack of balance – too early in the morning, too much coffee, it was my nerves. I think some of the result of the “sweat” in the doctor’s office, other than the heat being cranked up due to the freezing temperatures in NC., were due to my feeling ashamed for the doctor to see the shape I was really in. In my mind, I was in good shape. I ran and walked, stretched occasionally, bicycled, and lifted weights twice a week (I did before my injury). Then I remembered walking down the halls at church or in high school and accidently leaning into someone, more than once, and apologizing. Even recently, I have swayed into my girlfriend often on our walking route. Maybe this new doctor is on to something. I recall he had said, “We’ve got to address the core problem before we can adjust the symptom in your hip.” My core problem: the lack of stability.
I believe God gives us physical symbols that can often parallel or bring revelation to our spiritual life. Life is often our pulpit. Of course, I had to take this physical stability struggle…and my embarrassment and ask myself, “Do I have spiritual stability issues?”
Most often, I think we neglect our spiritual condition, but it is vitally, if not more important. My answer to the question came after reflecting on some recent wounds and fears…. “Ah, Yeeaaahhh! I have stability issues.” And like with the doctor, I am ashamed for others to see me, to see my wobbly faith. One day I am full of confidence in his plans for us with the books’ release and a perfect job to be discovered for my husband, and the next day, I fear people and the possibility of failure in the future.
If I could just constantly remember God promised to always go before me and be with me, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8). And he allows only what is filtered through his love to touch my life, “How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you,” (Psalm 31:19) then I’d be a little more stable.
Why the wobble or the Pop-tart breakdown? In the physical or the spiritual, strength and stability comes from discipline. My doctor invited me back for a follow-up visit on Friday. He will diagnose my problem further and give me…help in the form of massage, exercises, etc., I hope! To find an answer to the pain, I’ll need to heed whatever the doctor recommends…even if it’s to stop running for a month.
God invites us in for healing, as well. He tells us to pray about everything, and his priority for our lives is spiritual healing. He’s never condescending of our wounds or injury…but we need to listen; he knows the core causes of our symptoms and pains. He will give us direction to find our wholeness and health in him. He is our stability and strength – for each day. But how do we know his remedy if we are not spending time with him? Once we find the Healer to be legit, we can recommend him with confidence to others.
So, I have to ask you, “Do you have stability issues?” (or pop-tart in the toaster issues?). I’m asking, caring more for your spirituality – although I’d love for you to be healed or develop healthier choices physically.
How do we keep from wobbling in our faith? Just like with exercise, we need to make a choice to strengthen our hearts spiritually by daily spending time with God in his word and in prayer. A strong core – comes from spending time on bended knees! (In your heart attitude at least).
Oh, I can’t wait for you to have the opportunity to use my journals! They will be a great source of help, but in the meantime, pray and ask God to give you the desire and the discipline to exercise your faith. I encourage you to set aside more time this year in prayer or Bible reading than last year. Or…if this is new to you, start out reading and praying through the Psalms, or the book of John for ten minutes a day. Then increase in a few months and build that stability training program! This is your life – are you as physically and spiritually fit as you want to be? “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought for a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:19). These ‘ole bodies are just temporary housing; we get new bodies in heaven! But our spirits – they’ll grow on.
Let’s make some changes for the better…clean out the clutter, don’t overdo, and take the time to care for you.