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Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Low-down on My Down Low

Some of you know I have been going through a tough season for the last seven months or so.  Some of you know bits and pieces.  Some of you don’t have any idea.  I thought it was high time I just share a bit of what’s been going on.

Last summer I embarked on a journey to really get healthy, eating right and exercising.  I was pushing myself pretty hard but nothing over the top—at least not for the average person (let me just say, I have horrible joints & ligaments—loose and weak, they don’t like to support my muscles very much).   I was experiencing some fantastic results—weight loss, getting stronger, feeling better…

Then in October, I started having a pretty nagging and sometimes severe pain on my right hip/groin area.  I took it easy and rested a bit, hoping it would go away, then finally saw my doctor.  Turns out my hips and pelvis were a mess (I was ordered NOT to do anymore one-legged squats since my joints would rather rearrange my muscles rather than support them).  I got adjusted, started seeing a chiropractor regularly but the pain persisted.  During all this time I was also told to stop exercising (except walking—which is not something I can do because of my terrible feet…see reference to joints, above), and not to lift anything over 10 pounds. 

I followed doctor’s orders, I switched to an anti-inflammatory diet and tried to get better.  Eventually, after finding a swollen lymph node in my groin, which ultimately went down on it’s own, the doctors also discovered a femoral hernia.  I had surgery in January to fix the hernia, and as it turned out, to sew up my entire right inguinal area, as well, which was about to herniate.  Recovering was slow and painful but in late March I was ready to clean up my diet again and start some activity.  

Then my lower back started hurting…

I tried to ignore it.  I tried some stretches and at-home interventions but ultimately made another trip to the doctor.  She was pretty mad at me.  My back was a wreck—she couldn’t even adjust me.  Home I went with a lecture, steroids, and muscle relaxers.  A week later she adjusted me and prescribed physical therapy.

Through this journey, and especially when my lower back went out in March, I got very angry.  I am so frustrated by the fact that I can’t do my life.  How do you take care of a home, or your kids, or work, or anything when you can’t lift over 10 pounds?!  When you’re told, “Don’t do anything.”  I was having a pity party.  I was rebelling against the way my body was telling me to behave and I did stuff I wasn’t supposed to…guess how that worked out?

I came to the realization a few weeks ago that for whatever reason, the Lord really wants me to walk through this season where I cannot depend on my own strength.  For whatever reason, I am dependent on those around me for my practical needs and Him for my comfort and peace.  In order to drive this point home, in the last couple of weeks whenever I tried to do even the smallest task, I ended up further injured and limited.  Now I am not allowed to do any kind of rotating of my torso—so no sweeping or mopping.  I’m not to bend over—so no dishes, laundry, picking stuff up off the floor.  I thought I was limited before…

It is a very big change for me.  I am the doer.  I am the fixer.  I am the one who gets things done when others don’t.  If I asked one of my kids or husband to help with something and it didn’t
happen—I just did it myself, even if I probably shouldn’t have.  That’s not an option for me right now.  I’m learning a lot about accepting my limitations (previously, I got angry about my limitations and forced my body to do things I wanted to do), about accepting and asking for help (I like being a helper and receiving help is a challenge), about accepting the condition of things I can’t change (like the tufts of dog hair blowing across my floor, the dishes in the sink, and the laundry piling up), and about spending a lot more quiet moments with the Lord.

We were just talking a few mornings ago.  I was thanking Him for bringing me through this journey and hoping I would learn the valuable lessons in this that I need to learn.  I want to move on.  I want to regain my health and vitality but I know I need to do it at a different pace than what I would force myself to do.  God had some challenging words for me…

I have totally bought into and am a product of our culture’s self-indulgent nature.  I want what I want and I want it now.  I will run to the store if I don’t have it.  I will charge it if I can’t afford it.  I do what I want when I want and while I know that is a serious character flaw and I continue to work on it, it has been a constant struggle.  I do well for a while, then I see something I really want, or I come up with some brilliant idea that I need to act on right now (nevermind that if it really were a brilliant idea it would be just as great a year from now as it would be tomorrow).  I know logically that I need to trust in God’s timing, that I need to stop making things happen in my own strength, that I really need to SUBMIT.  I have been praying about submission for years, now.  

After my little chat with God, He let me know that this was a very practical, physical lesson on my very struggle.  I have been angry and frustrated because I want what I want and I want it now.  I want to be able to clean my house, to build chicken coops, to plant gardens, to work out, to do, do, do whatever I deem is necessary now and I can force myself to accomplish.  While I have been praying for God to help me submit my strong will and live in His timing and guidance, I have not applied all that knowledge and desire practically with much success.  And here, I find myself doing exactly that, in a very practical and physical way.  

God knows that I am good at thinking, contemplating, problem-solving, but I have always learned best when I could apply the lesson practically.  I’ve been contemplating these issues and character flaws for some time but I guess I needed the practical application to bring it home.  God was letting me know that He is teaching me about submitting my own will and desires, not operating (or forcing myself to operate) in my own strength, and learning dependence.  I am in the midst of it now and while I still have moments of frustration, my attitude has changed dramatically in the last few weeks.  I get it now (that’s not to say I’m cured of my natural tendency for self-gratification but it’s a work in progress!).

After my convo with the Lord, I logged onto Facebook to see what the world outside my home was up to.  A dear friend, who is walking through her own horrific struggle right now, posted at that very moment this excerpt from Jesus Calling:

"THANK ME for the conditions that are requiring you to be still. Do not spoil these quiet times by wishing them away, waiting impatiently to be active again. Some of the greatest works in my kingdom have been done from sickbeds and prison walls. Instead of resenting the limitations of your weakened body, search for MY way in the midst of these very circumstances. Limitations can be liberating when your strongest desire is living close to Me.
  Quietness and trust enhance your awareness of My Presence with you. Do not despise these simple ways of serving Me. Although you feel cut off from the activity of the world, your quiet trust makes a powerful statement in spiritual realms. My strength and Power show themselves most effective in weakness.
Zechariah 2:13; Isaiah 30:15; 2 Corinthians 12:9"

Nothing like talking with God and then getting immediate confirmation right afterward.  God is so good!

So that’s been my journey over the last half a year or so.  I am so grateful for His grace and strength in this time.  I AM grateful for the important things that I can still do.  I am thankful for a job that I can primarily do from my Lazyboy (or even bed when I’m flat on my back), I’m thankful for cuddle time and reading stories to by precious boys, I am thankful I can spend a day sitting with a grieving friend and providing companionship, I am thankful for extra time to spend in the Word and prayer time—there is so much more!  Have I said it yet…God is so good!

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