Strength

I messed up in my last post, or, as a friend in university would have said, I done goofed. The post itself is just fine – I’m not editing it or removing it, but I am reflecting on where I was when I wrote it and how I feel now – 5 months later.

Since then I’ve tried to write a number of posts. I wanted to post once a month this year (clearly I’m not fulfilling that resolution!) among many other goals, but despite the significant upturn I felt like I was taking in January, it didn’t last. I constantly felt like I was sliding backwards. I would fight to inch forward a little bit and then slide back again. It was like one step forward two steps back — I just could not get out of this hole I was in. I can’t even begin to describe the way life has seemingly just beat me down in the last few weeks alone.

Since November I’ve been dealing with a shoulder injury. Through meeting with my athletic therapist we determined I likely had a shoulder impingement and began rehab on it in January. It took about 2 months for me to stop feeling pain when I did a lot of movements, 3 to lift anything over my head, and over 4 months to be able to support my weight hanging on something.

Part of my rehab was seeing my AT on a weekly basis – we would chat about how I was doing, when and where I was feeling pain, and she would massage out the muscles around the injured area to work on keeping them loose and flexible and healing. The other part of my rehab was to do a home exercise routine that was updated over time to use weights and then heavier weights. I have never had upper arm strength. I know everyone says their arms are weak but this is like, a family thing. NONE of us have arm strength – compounded with a car accident that I had and never fully recovered from and you had a very very weak-armed Christy. I couldn’t lift anything and by anything I mean I couldn’t carry a 10kg bag of flour, I couldn’t lift the rolls of paper everyone else at work could lift to refill our proofing printers…carrying milk bags from the car to the house was heavy! I had gotten stronger but no one has ever looked at me and said “hey nice shoulders!”

Enter daily shoulder exercises. It took 4 months, but when I returned to my regular activities, I was better. I don’t mean better as in it didn’t hurt, I mean better as in I could do more. I could hold more. I could carry more. I could lift more weight. Some people would say that I did this myself. And in a way they aren’t wrong. I did get stronger by doing my exercises every day and by putting in the effort and work myself. But I did not do it all on my own by any means! I had someone checking on me weekly, giving me things to do, prescribing weights, massaging out the knots, plus I had a number of coaches helping me sub out movements while working out and making sure I didn’t further injure myself. My arms are still weak noodles but they’re stronger than they used to be!

So when I say I done goofed in my last post …. I say that because when I wrote it, I was reflecting on everything I had done and where I had come to, and I looked ahead relying on my own strength to get me further. Yes, I still stand by what I said that perhaps I needed to go through the heartbreak and falling down that I did – and I think I needed to continue to stumble through that after I wrote the post because I still didn’t learn my lesson. I thought I had! And I did learn part of it – but I hadn’t yet learned just how far the love of God would reach, and just how deeply he needed me to sink so that I would have to realize that I can’t bail myself out on my own strength. I may be stronger than I was before, but I am not and never will be strong enough to do this whole life on my own.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
    and refreshment to your bones.
– Proverbs 3:5-8 (ESV)

***I started writing this a month ago – and since then I still haven’t learned my lesson…but I think I’m starting to. It is truly only in my most broken and needy that I will turn to help in my friends, family, and God. And strangely, being at the bottom is when I feel the most at peace in the middle of chaos and being incredibly busy. It is humbling to be in spaces where you cannot do it on your own, and I am so thankful for the opportunities to grow and learn, particularly after feeling so plateau-ed for so long. The one key difference in the last month is that I have chosen to let people in and to lean on them instead of just relying on myself. They point me forward, remind me of the past, and they point me up to the one who has never left. Who do you have that you can let in and help point you back up? We truly are stronger together.

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