It was while I was in puppy pose a thought hit me.
These last years of my life have been filled with days and months of stretching.
Stretching what, you wonder?
Well, unlike the puppy pose, which any yoga amateur (like me) would appreciate. The kind of stretching the Lord is doing in my life has nothing to do with getting on my knees with my arms stretched in front of me while the instructor reminds me how good it is for my shoulders.
This stretching involves coping and/or handling events, people, basically life that is completely out of my control.
I think as we grow in our relationship with Jesus, He begins to get a little pickier with us. What I mean is, He expects more out of us just like we expect more out of our children as they grow older.
This year although full of wonderful things, has been a tough one.
This month, in just about two weeks, it will have been four years since my mom died. October, although FULL of festivities and fun, is always a little hard on me.
As I’ve walked the long, painful road of grief, I’ve noticed a theme. The lessons I’ve learned from my pain the Lord gently requires me to practice. As he teaches me, he expects more from me.
Sometimes, I want to run from these expectations.
I don’t want to do the MATURE thing.
And, sometimes, I actually DO run from these expectations and I don’t choose maturity. And every time I don’t choose maturity, I regret it. You know, being an adult is not at all what I thought it would be back in my childhood years when the thought of making all of my own decisions sounded so romantic!
What I wouldn’t give to feel the freedom of childhood.
Stretching…right, I need to stay on topic!
At the first of the year my husband got a promotion. It all sounded wonderful on paper, but the reality was more hours away from home and less time together. Since my children are grown, I don’t have school and multiple schedules to juggle. There’s nothing to distract me so I notice every lonely hour he’s away.
But, the right thing to do was to be thankful for the opportunity, but thankful was only part of what I felt. I wrestled with happiness, expectation, fear and uncertainty. I was a giant ball of mixed emotion. Every time I started to complain, I could feel an impression in my heart to stop and be grateful. So many nights when I sat on the couch by myself, the last thing I wanted was to thank the Lord.
Just a few weeks ago I watched dear friends bury their twenty four year old only son.
It felt like a punch in the gut.
That level of loss I can’t comprehend.
I watched an entire community come together and weep with the family, pray with them and wrap them in love. I still can’t understand why it happened. I try to wrap my mind around it, and I simply can’t. I have no desire to hear the shallow answer that “God must’ve needed another angel.” Are you kidding me? This family wants their son, and heaven didn’t need another angel. There is no easy answer and I want to rail out against the senselessness of it all.
Again, I am stretched. Stretched so thin.
My daughter commutes two days a week to a school over eighty miles one way…rain, sleet, snow or shine. So many days I stop and pray for her. There is always a real possibility of the unthinkable happening.
I feel stretched.
My husband flies airplanes for a living. Do I even need to tell you the stress that goes along with having someone you love with all of your heart hanging in the air by two engines, a wing and a prayer?!
My son has a girlfriend and suddenly I am no longer the only woman in his life. I knew this day would come, I knew he would find someone he really cared about and I would have to step back and allow the budding relationship to grow. But, I’ve never been in these waters before, and even though I am so happy for him, I find myself jealous and unsure of where I fit into his life.
This year I have faced some serious rejection. I wrote about it a few months back and so many of you responded to my pain. It’s amazing how many of us can relate to rejection, it’s a true test of character as I’m challenged to take the high road when I would rather defend my cause.
Rejection is the worst.
And, again, I am stretched.
I think that could be the resonating theme for me this year.
Being stretched thin.
Figuratively speaking, that is. All this stretching certainly hasn’t made me “thin.” Ever heard of stress eating?!
I’ve learned by attending my yoga class that stretching is so important. It keeps us strong and flexible and strengthens our muscles to hold us together. This strength keeps us from injury, builds our immune system, helps with hormones (hallelujah!), helps with balance, sharpens our memory, improves sleep quality and gives you more energy.
You know, there are so many similarities in physical stretching and spiritual stretching.
When I follow the impression laid on my heart to do the right thing in spite of how I feel, it’s hard and it doesn’t feel good. Just like yoga, when I’m in upward facing dog and want to cry (literally), I remind myself of the benefits and I congratulate myself when I’m done for holding the awkward pose and not giving up.
The benefits outweigh the difficulties.
Spiritually speaking, it’s the same. If I’ll follow through and stay in that awkward pose of uncertainty or stay there and allow God to fight my battles, when it’s over I feel the Lord congratulate me for holding on and being obedient….upward facing dog, spiritually speaking.
I’ve learned we don’t get to pick our battles, sometimes they pick us. BUT we do get to decide how we handle them. Do we listen to the small impression the Lord puts on our heart or not?
Upward facing dog or not?
For me, I’m heading to yoga.
Romans 12:1-2 MSG “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”