I feel like Britney.
Oops. I did it again.
Pulled my rib, that is.
Is this a sign that I am getting old? That my body is slowly starting to fall apart?
I am reminded of our school’s alma mater whenever I picture myself growing white hair (which I have none of, thank you very much) or wrinkles around my eyes (those I do have, sigh):
“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength
They shall mount up with wings as eagles
They shall run and not be weary
They shall walk and not faint
Teach us Lord, teach us Lord to wait.”
I teach at a local Baptist school, so if the refrain sounds familiar, it’s because it’s from Isaiah 40, one of my favorite chapters in the Old Testament. There’s something grand and breathtaking about these lines. To me, it’s reassuring that during those moments of weakness and fatigue, God is there. AND He’s not just “there” to watch us to be a cheerleader with His megaphone and poms-poms proclaiming, “Wow, that’s tough. Keep on going!” He’s actually there to endure with us, to lift us up out of the ashes, and to give us, well, LIFE.
But our victory is contingent on the fact that we must wait. We must be patient.
And that is a lesson I am still learning.
To back track a bit, I pulled my rib on Tuesday night, exactly a week ago. Previous to this, I was in a semi-I’ll-take-a-break-from-lifting-and-exercising phase. Why? Well, I’ll probably write about that later, but basically, my body was saying to me STOP. STOP. STOP. In all capitals. And in bold. And italicized. So with the zeal of the Holy Spirit behind me, I said to myself, yes, I will take a break and let my muscles heal, let my systems reconnect, let the peace of the Lord wash over me.
And…that lasted about three days. No, actually two and a half.
Lack of patience? Lack of waiting on God to make things right? Yup. But why? If I know Jesus to be Lord, to be the maker of all good things, why could I not listen and wait on Him to heal my body?
Because as a person obsessed with exercising, training, wanting to be better, faster, stronger, I couldn’t resist the lure of the barbell. I craved the instant gratification of sweating dripping down my face after doing hypertrophic squats gave. I wanted the feeling that I was accomplishing SOMETHING by setting up to bench. I needed to feel validated, that I was working hard to attain some lofty powerlifting goal.
So I went to train on Tuesday night and on the board were squats and deadlifts. About an hour into training, I bent over to get a grip on the bar for my umpteenth deadlift. I took my breath, sat back, and POP. It wasn’t audible, but I sure as heck felt something like a bubble explode on my side.
Oddly enough there was no pain–well, no pain until later that night when I couldn’t lie down or sleep because taking a breath, rolling over, basically moving hurt. So I took the day off. No, actually, I didn’t take the day off, as I had “things to do” and “places to go”. School was starting on Thursday, so I had to get everything set for my classes and my kids needed mommy to run around with them. Also, I had to go to training, because, well, you know, lifting weights is LIFE (that was sarcastic, by the way). And so I went to train on Thursday (I know, CRINGE!!!!), but prior to getting to the powerlifting facility, I said a short prayer.
Lord, protect me. Let me know what you want me to do. I am not sure that I should be training, so please make it clear if I should go to the gym or stay at home.
And wouldn’t you know, the coach was locked out. He was there. We were there. But we couldn’t get in.
Flashforward to Friday, and miraculously, the pain started to dissipate and I could move around fairly easily without discomfort.
And so I started thinking about what I could do for training. What movements could I work to help with my weak deadlift form? Could I bench? As all of these thoughts ran through my head, I bent down to pick up my shoe and POP.
Again. I pulled my rib.
This time the pain was immediate and in the front. I couldn’t stand up straight or take a breath without excruciating pain.
Many thoughts raced through my mind as I sat down, doubled over with fear and the feeling of stabbing needles radiating through my body. I had to teach. Could I even give the English lesson for the day? I didn’t think I broke anything because there was no traumatic accident this time, just a feeling of something shifting. Would the pain lessen if I tried maneuvering the rib back into place? Should I go to urgent care?
It was at that time that I sent up this prayer. Lord, I am sorry. I am sorry for not listening to you. I know you want me to rest, and I couldn’t listen to you. I was so focused on myself and what I wanted, that I was blind to the fact that you are giving me this time to draw closer to you and seek you for healing–inside and out.
So here I am, four days later, and after a good chiropractic and acupuncture session, I am feeling better. Still not perfect, but at least I can move around without needles shooting through my side. And even better, I hear God very clearly right now:
REST. REST. REST.
I told Him I would, and honestly, it is HARD. I am not sure how long I will be away from the barbell and weights for, but slooooowly, God is revealing more to me about WHY I want to even be in the gym in the first place (more on that in another upcoming post).
So here I am, praying for Jesus to renew my strength and help me to soar on wings like eagles. More importantly, I am praying for the patience to listen to Him and wait for Him because our fallible, fragile bodies are only made powerful and whole by the hands of the great Creator.