Sunday, January 29, 2012

Lean Into It...

Ever been outside on a windy day, where the wind feels strong enough to overtake you and push you to the ground?  I'll be honest, I've only ever done that a few times.  Usually, when the weather is that fierce, I'm hunkered down somewhere safe, cozy, and warm.  But there have been the few unavoidable times in my life when I had to be out in the gale. 

So how do you keep from being blown away?  You lean into it.

Leaning in is what saves you, keeps you on course, and moves you forward beyond the maelstrom and into calmer, more serene places.

What I'm finding on this journey these days is that in my life, PAIN is like that fierce wind.  It chases me down and blows hard on me.  In fact, I'm in the middle of gale-force winds of pain in my life right now.  There are many, many kinds of pain I deal with on a daily basis.  The obvious pain for me, the one I talk most about here, is the physical pain of having bone-on-bone osteoarthritis in both of my knees.  If you've never experienced it, I don't recommend it.  If you have, then you know it's the truth when I say that some days it feels like someone is literally stabbing me with a knife right in the knee with every single step I take.

But physical pain is only one kind of pain.  What about the emotional pain that is part of so many of my relationships (wife, mother, teacher, colleague, friend...) being at truly critical moments right now?  Or the spiritual pain from God tugging and pulling at me to let go of all the junk I've carried along with these 328 pounds for so long?  That pain is not always visible to you, but it is just as real as the physical pain I face.  What will save me from being blown away by all of it?

Leaning into it.

You see, when you're outside in that windstorm and you keep your back to away...avoid it, it eventually overwhelms you.   No one, even the strongest of us, can withstand the powerful force of nature that wind poses when our backs are to it.  We all fall flat on our faces at some point. 

And even when you turn to face it, but stand upright and tall, confident in your own ability to succeed despite the winds buffeting you, it still has the power to knock you down.  Right to your backside.

But when you face it...and LEAN INTO IT...physics takes over.  You stand.  You walk.  You MOVE BEYOND IT.

For me, "leaning into it" means different things than perhaps it does for you.  Physically, leaning into my pain means that I don't let what's going on with my knees impact the long-term game plan for managing my arthritis.  I need to lose weight.  This will help my knees more than just about any other thing I can do.  To lose weight, I need to be working out in the gym and eating sensibly.  I can't sit out workouts because my knees hurt.  I can't emotionally eat away the pain because I'm frustrated.  Skipping workouts and overeating will not help me lose the weight I need to lose to make my knee pain better.  I need to see my PT Angie and actually DO the exercises she gives me to strengthen my legs. I can't allow pain to stop those things.  I need to manage the pain the way my doctors ask me to...anti-inflammatory meds and ice, rest when it reaches beyond a moderate level of discomfort.  Leaning into physical pain for me means not stopping my life for it. 

Leaning into emotional and spiritual pain is much the same thing for me.  I can't let what's happening in my life right now blind me to the long-term game plan.  I don't raise my fist at God and shake it, declaring that I hold Him responsible for the pain in my life, and demanding that He remove it.  I want to sometimes.  But I don't.  Lately, I'm embracing the thought that if I allow Him, God will USE the pain. 

Think back to the wind metaphor I've been using to describe this concept of leaning in.  Wind, when it's harnessed, does amazing, useful things.  It makes beautiful things happen in nature, carves stones, shapes landscapes.  It can be converted into energy when a windmill is spun by it and electricity is generated. 

What then might God do in ME if I lean into HIM during the stormiest, windiest times in my life?  Well,'re witnessing what He will do in me.  Right here on this blog.  I'm living it out in front of you because I want you to know how He's at work in me.  Some days are better than others, but in the big scheme of things...God is changing me.  He's strengthening me.  He's working ALL things together for my GOOD.  Basically, He's doing exactly what He promised He would. 

Friends...whatever you're going through...whatever your issues are...whatever hurts you...I PROMISE you...God knows.  God cares.  God is FOR you, not against you.  And when you lean into Him, you stand. You walk. You MOVE!

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