My LORD knows I keep moving the beam of my flashlight to find His footprints.
I want to follow His lead and keep up with His plan of progress for my life.
He knows I'm living in a world darkened by sin and it's hard to see.
This week I caught a glimpse of the intense journey ahead.
It started the day I shoveled some snow. Nothing out of the ordinary for winter in Maine.
I didn't do much, but I came inside and I was hurting.
At first it was a vague discomfort. That night my lower back started to ache.
By the next morning it earned the title pain and I applied heat to relax the muscles.
Three days later I had to admit I was in trouble. My lower left side felt the same way it had before my hip was replaced. The whole area was deteriorating and I was having trouble walking. My mind began to spin with the possibility that I'd injured my bionic implant.
Then what? =8-O
The next day I gave in and called my surgeon's office. He returned my call and, from what I was telling him, he said I likely strained my back. I did as he directed, applying ice and heat, and taking an anti-inflammatory.
My mind started to stew over possible scenarios. I'd lifted too much weight and pulled something apart. I'd reached out too far and loosened the screw holding in the socket. Or maybe I slightly dislocated the whole joint. Each one was more dreadful than the previous.
Three days later I had to take action. I reported that the symptoms were continuing and set an appointment to be seen. Three days later still I drove to the doctor's office. From one dark thought to the next the pain became a monster ready to devour my life.
I was sure that any problems with the bionic device, even a small one, would mean more surgery. More surgery would mean repeating the recovery process. More downtime would mean I'd have to cancel my plans, especially my Spring Tour. More forced isolation would mean feeling helpless again. More inactivity, especially after such a remarkably speedy recovery, would lead to nothing but disappointment and fester into hopelessness.
I was convinced of every single detail.
Right there on Route 89, before I'd even gotten to the office I was caught in a death spiral. My world had closed in. Nothing but negative, even dire, possibilities remained open to me.
If you've been following this adventure with me in any other places, you'll know how the appointment went. After extensive x-rays and a thorough examination I got a resounding message that the implant is fine. The conclusion is that I wrenched my back, causing the muscle memory to repeat the way it responded to my deteriorated hip. The tightness and spasms, awkwardness and instability were all a product of confused physical connections.
Are you with me?
The x-rays and the confidence of the doctor in what we were seeing brought my crazy-making mind to a halt. On my way out of the office I started willing my posture to be straight and my stride secure. There was a bit of stretching, but it felt good. My wild thoughts were dismissed by the facts. By the end of that day, without a single physical therapy appointment as prescribed, most of the pain and discomfort were gone.
I considered that reality as I climbed into bed 10 long days after I moved that bit of snows. The transformation was striking. I wondered what this experience might have to do with the rest of my life. It's a question I ask myself often. Maybe that's what pastor's wives do through a life of sermon illustrations.
Whatever the reason, that's when the floodlight came on.
What if the crazy-making process is a habit?
What if every time I/we participate in it, we're actually crippling ourselves with our own thoughts?
What if it would only take a serious look at the facts to dissolve the emotional, psychological, spiritual pain we put ourselves through?
Now THOSE are some answers to ponder.
More importantly, what if God delivered these circumstances to alert me/us to behavior that is stealing our joy? And He wants us content, fully enfolded in His arms.
In case you are caught in this dynamic, or have a friend who is (ahem), feel free to borrow my strategy.
Habit Busting Tactics
1. Ask Holy Spirit to wave a red flag at me when my mind is pulled in a wayward direction.
2. Respond immediately by shaking myself, turning away from the destructive behavior and toward the LORD.
3. Build a replacement habit by putting a Godward activity in its place, such as remembering who He is and how He loves me, reciting or meditating on Scripture, singing meaningful spiritual songs.
If this is all news to you, praise God for His gracious gift and share this with others.
If you too are being challenged in this area, what will you do to win the victory?