The church I attend places a high value on art, creativity, and congregational participation in the worship experience. There are many opportunities for our members to share original poetry, responsive readings, essays, and songs during the course of the service.
Our pastor has been preaching through the book of Hebrews, and yesterdayâ€™s passage was Hebrews 4:11-13. I read the following personal essay prior to the sermon, as a part of our worship service.
Crooked Wanderings (11/21/05)
Iâ€™ve been moving slow lately. My daughter, Ruthie, and I spend a lot of time in our pajamas.
It seems Iâ€™m becoming That Wife who lets herself go, wearing raggedy sweat pants, bed head, no make-up, and a spit-up stained shirt. Iâ€™m waiting for someone to turn me in to that TLC show â€œWhat Not to Wear.â€ Or worse, maybe Iâ€™ll end up on Oprah.
Iâ€™ve become listless and unmotivated again, and donâ€™t even look forward to play dates with friends anymore. I just want to sit in my pajamas, alone, in front of the t.v. and eat chocolate chip cookies and drink lots of wine. Iâ€™m wondering if Iâ€™m depressed again, or maybe Iâ€™m just using depression as an excuse to be lazy.
How does one figure these things out?
A doctor once told me that I carry my stress in the muscles of my upper back, and that if the stress became too great the muscles would actually pull my spine out of alignment.
Iâ€™ve been to the chiropractor three days a week for the last two months, so you do the math.
What has me so stressed, you ask?
I could list it all out for you â€“ my daily schedule, my personal struggles, the emotions weighing me down, the stories of my two-year-oldâ€™s antics â€“ but what would be the point? To justify? To convince? Maybe even a little self-indulging drama about how bad Iâ€™ve got it?
No. That is not necessary. We all have stress, donâ€™t we? What do you feel overwhelmed by right now? What is that stress doing to your body? Do you get headaches? Are you a teeth grinder? Do you quit eating?
I am convinced that my twisted spine of stress is a physical affliction I have brought on myself, that in my search for clarity in the midst of great confusion I have lost sight of the one who speaks the truth into my life.
I have searched for answers in the advice of my friends, in the written pages of books, in a bowl of cereal, and even in spending money.
In my deepest confusion and pain, I have searched for answers in things that turn to dust.
â€œBut the word of God is living and activeâ€¦ and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heartâ€ (Hebrews 4:12).
I have not been a people of history. I have fixed my eyes on false summits. And because of this I have not entered the rest Christ offers, and I have created a twisted spine of stress.
The Lord comforted Paul as he struggled with his own physical affliction, a condition he felt humbled his prideful ways. God said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (II Corinthians 12:9).
My heart is awakening to Christâ€™s sufficiency, and my spine is responding to treatment; though neither one is happening magically, nor at the rate of speed I would prefer.
But I realize now that for the last fifteen years my twisted spine of stress has been the thorn God has used to remind me of his sufficiency.
I pray I donâ€™t forget this epiphany and wander around another 25 years trying to break the Israelitesâ€™ record.