It’s getting close to the New Year and so it’s as good a time as ever to look back, take stock, sit with Jesus and together with him, ask where he’d like you to grow, to focus or to challenge yourself in this next season of your life. My desires for this past year were deep: to grow in knowing the heart of my Father, as I never have known it before and to become stronger. In every way.
Here’s the encouraging thing…I believe those desires flowed straight from his heart. I still do. That’s the thing about asking him what he wants for you and asking what it is that you really desire. The two meet. And knowing it’s his desire as well as your own brings the fuel to press on when the exuberance of the beginning wears off.
If you have been keeping along with this little sporadic blog of mine then you would have noticed that God has been coming for me. He’s answered my prayer to know him as Father more deeply than I could have imagined and my journey of wonder and amazement continues. Physically, I’ve been on the mission to reclaim lost ground in my strength and health. And I have been getting stronger. Measurably.
One of the joys of becoming more physically fit has been sharing the experience with my husband. Working out together. “Running” together has become our new normal and we love it.
Well, we did love it until a little more than two months ago. That’s when I asked my body to do more than it was ready to do and I hurt my lower back. I hurt it badly, which affected my piriformis (big butt muscle under the glute), which pressed against the sciatic nerve, which stopped me in my tracks.
It’s been pain and hobbling and an inability to lift my leg an inch off the floor for a long time, and the prognosis is at best that I’m halfway to recovery. Maybe two more months. Maybe four. And then the slow process of regaining strength begins.
I’ve been thwarted.
It’s a bummer.
I’m not complaining. Okay, yes I am, but come on, it hurts! (So MANY of you know what I’m talking about!)
But it has made me more aware of all the people around me shuffling or using canes or needing the mechanical cart at the grocery store. It’s made me think of and pray for all those I know and those I don’t who live with constant pain. It makes me remember the years that I suffered with deep depression and lived under a heavy cloak of despair slogging my way through to Life. It makes me wonder how I pressed on through that and how marvelously God has come for me. It also has made me realize that I had become insensitive to the massive amounts of humanity surrounding me that are hurting and suffering daily.
I’m not sure how I forgot.
The mercy thing that’s coming from my experience is a good thing. The awareness of some people’s impatience with my slowness is a sad revelation. But my own occasional battles with discouragement have, well, discouraged me.
Don’t you hate it when things surface in your heart that you didn’t know were there?
Of course I’d get discouraged. Of course pain brings me to tears sometimes. So where is the mercy for myself? How can I be gentle with others when internally I berate myself? My husband once found me lying on the floor crying over the pain and my failure to live well in it and adamantly, forcefully even, caught my heart saying that my interpretation was untrue. That I’m handling it amazingly well.
It’s just that inside I don’t feel that way. I’m aware of my impatience. My irritation. I’m feeling like I’m not handling it well at all and that I’m a weakling.
I’m so grateful that earlier in the year God came for me and revealed his overwhelming, all encompassing, always-been-there-and-not-going-anywhere love for me—for all of us—in new and life changing ways, for it has buoyed me in the midst of my injury. I have not questioned his goodness or his love for me. But the very day I said that out loud turned out to be the very first day I did.
I’ve been thwarted. Did he thwart me? I don’t think so. I think injuries happen in this world. I met a woman who was suffering from the same injury as mine and she got it while transferring the laundry from the washer to the dryer. Sheesh.
I don’t believe God caused it, but man oh man is he using it.
I hate asking for help and I need to and it’s humbling but also teaching me. (How’s that for a sentence?) I’m being stretched into the uncomfortable but oh so necessary realm of receiving.
I liked believing that I am capable. I don’t like not being able to stand for long enough periods of time to make dinner or clean up after it or shop in the grocery store or put away the laundry. Walking to the mailbox is out of my realm for the moment.
And yes, I’m doing physical therapy and pool therapy and stretching and everything I can to hasten the healing. I even got a steroid shot. And you bet I’m praying. I’m blessing my body and consecrating it to God and asking for healing. So I’m not asking for advice here or even sympathy. I just want to speak the truth even when it’s not pretty and say, I’m sorry for forgetting. I want to grow at being merciful to myself so that I can be merciful to others. I want to get better. I want to walk around the block.
I don’t like things being stolen. I hate being thwarted. But at one time or another, no, at many times and many more, we all are. We ALL are. And then what? It’s the “then what?” that matters.
My hope for this New Year includes that what is surfacing in my heart that isn’t very pretty be like dross bubbling to the surface and removed. Let me be more deeply cleansed. Let God use it to make me more like the woman we both want me to be. Let it change me in good, softening, and holy ways. Let me get better. Let me not forget.
So, thwarting be damned. But let his glory be increased.
And if it hurries up, well then, so much the better. In the meantime…mercy, friends.