“What are you doing?”
This morning at the gym, a woman asked me about a particular move. It’s called the Turkish get-up. Here’s what you do: rise from lying flat on the ground to a standing position in slow, precise moves.
Lying down . . .
Propped on one elbow . . .
Propped on one hand . . .
A high bridge . . .
A lunge . . .
. . . all while holding a weight overhead, always keeping your arm perpendicular to the ground and your eyes focused on the weight above your head. Once upright, you reverse the moves until you’re lying down. That’s one rep. (Whew.)
It’s a great move to target coordination, balance, and all those lovely core muscles that don’t get enough work in our sedentary lifestyles. It’s also a move that makes me feel clumsy and off-kilter.
I explained to the woman what the move was. Then she wanted to copy me while I did the rest of my set, and we chatted a bit about what workout plan I use, all the usual things I’ve been asked at the gym many times before. Then the conversation took a turn.
“Well, let me pray for us.” And without further ado, she began praying: thanking God for being with us, for me, for our time together at the gym.
That hasn’t happened before. Not for me, not at the gym.
She went to a different machine. I did a different exercise. Then I walked over to her and thanked her again for praying. “That was really encouraging. I’ve been having a rough time recently . . .”
It’s not my usual depression that’s been pounding me. It’s anxiety.
I’ve been anxious about a particular situation, a controversy over school curriculum that I’m afraid will spin out of control, split a Christian community, and destroy relationships. After three church splits and a split in my childhood Christian school, I recognize the signs of fractured community all too well.
In addition, I’ve been anxious regarding a relationship with someone within this community. Confrontation could—and probably would—backfire on me and one of my children. Hell hath no fury like a woman whose child has been scorned, even if the scorn is only in her imagination. Again, I’ve seen this happen in Christian schools and seen the effects on children when their parents’ (particularly the mothers’) relationship is contentious. It can last for years. Literally.
That’s been the last two weeks: anxiety, sadness, fear. Crying spells. Difficulty breathing. Mind scattered. Body exhausted. Soul aching, mourning for my own brokenness and the brokenness of this world.
Everything is imbalanced. It’s like trying to do that Turkish get-up for the first time and wondering how I was supposed to do this, and this, and this, all at the same time. My leg goes where while my arm does what? Even after reading the directions and studying the photo sequence in my workout book, I almost gave up on learning this move. Then I did a Jillian Michaels video and she “talked” (ordered, really) me it. “Find the floor,” she barks, and my hand found the floor. “Pop up,” she orders, and I did. Oh, I thought, that’s how it works.
I remembered that video while I was talking the gym lady through it. (I didn’t bark, Jillian-style.) As I watched her figure this out, I remembered how it had felt to struggle with that sense of imbalance, the sense that my body didn’t know what it was doing.
My mind and soul have felt that imbalance these past two weeks. So when I told the gym lady that I’d had a rough time recently, I wasn’t lying; I needed encouragement.
A second unusual turn:
I can’t recall her exact words, but she said that she had sensed that us meeting at the gym was a divine appointment. “How old are your children?”
“Twelve and eight.”
We’re in a spiritual battle, she reminded me, and the enemy loves to destroy. But she sensed the Lord’s anointing on me while she was praying. Furthermore, she believed that I’m going to have a spiritual breakthrough this week. “You just watch, honey, you wait and see what God’s going to do.”
I hadn’t mentioned that this particular roughness had anything to do with my children or their school. But that’s what she mentioned immediately. On the one hand, it’s a safe bet that a thirty-something mom’s “rough time” might be related to her kids. On the other, there are a thousand other things that could give a thirty-something mom a rough time: marriage, work, health, stressful schedules.
I hugged her. We were both sweaty, and I didn’t care. Her words and prayer encouraged me. It helped restore balance to my perspective on the situations.
My perspective was so off-kilter that I was taking personal responsibility for the outcome of both situations, as if I could determine the outcome. Really, I can’t do anything other than pray. God is in control. He does not need me to do his job.
Her brief prayer and words of encouragement helped me re-learn this truth. It was a bit like doing the Jillian video, following her directions, and actually practicing a Turkish get up; I’d read the directions, seen the photos, but I needed someone to talk me through that first get-up.
I’d heard this truth—God is in control—and tried to pray this truth, but I needed someone to encourage me through it. She talked me through it, if you will.
Just wanted to share.