This fall has been rough. After months of neck and shoulder pain I finally got the diagnosis I was hoping not to get – arthritis. When the Lord knit me together, he planted inside me a thorn that would raise it’s head this year – a malformed collar bone. It’s just a hair too short, which means my shoulders aren’t supported well and my joints are wearing down very fast.
Every morning my body tells me it hurts and begs me not to move. But, I know from experience now that after forcing it to move and stretch it feels much better. A few minutes of pain yields greater capacity and flexibility.
To stay active and healthy for the second half of life, I have to live very differently then I have been. I have to exercise every single day to strengthen my back, core, and arms as my shoulders can do less and less. I have to do dishes, laundry, and carry things more thoughtfully. I have to sleep differently and drive differently and even hold my choir folder differently. There’s hardly an area of every day life that hasn’t required some change.
These physical changes and new rhythms have been transformational. I’ve been ushered into a new and in many ways healthier existence. I’m more grateful for every movement that doesn’t hurt. Instead of being mad at my body, I find myself extending a lot of love toward it. I found myself thanking my legs this morning as I walked to the coffee pot, and I laughed.
For me, the spiritual connections have been crystal clear. If I desire to continue to mature, transform, and live well in the second half of life, I’ll need to submit myself to a very similar process.
If I allow the potential for pain to limit by spiritual growth, I’m done. I have to place my faith in what I know comes after pain and do the work. It’s not time to settle into ways of believing and thinking. It’s time to stretch and move – as painful as that is.
Its time to rearrange ways of being and living in the world that reflect new information that comes with knowing God better and longer and deeper. My years with God will mean I continue to change – my mind on topics, and the way I contribute. It’s not time to spiritually calcify.
The old adage, “be careful what you wish for,” is so true. After so many years of praying for spiritual growth and fruitfulness, it’s funny to be experiencing so much of it in the midst of something challenging and frustrating like arthritis.
Whatever God is using today in your life to awaken you to Himself, I pray you’ll let whatever it is do it’s work. The master gardener prunes skillfully and tenderly, making us beautiful and fruitful in ways we couldn’t manufacture ourselves.