I’m stuck in bed thanks to my back and doing some reflecting. This past year I’ve focused on work and getting into better shape physically (99% through work with the occasional hike/run thrown in). Lost some weight, gained some muscle and all in all I’m probably in the best physical shape of my life.
Then my back just up and decides to tweak and shut me down. Now I’ve never been a tough guy or someone most folks would consider the epitome of manliness but I am stubborn and prideful and being dependent on others can bring on not just depression but anger. I get frustrated and angry with myself for being incapable of performing normal tasks. Unfortunately this anger and frustration also flow outward. I am thankful the love of my life is patient (at least in my presence) and takes care of me until I can get through it.
Despite all my efforts to improve, there is still something in me that can lay all that to waste in an instant. I had to leave work early, skip a side job I had scheduled today and I’m still not sure I can return to work on Monday. I’ll probably (hopefully) be walking by then but lifting, carrying, climbing ladders, running power tools, etc. may be out of the question. God willing I’ll get back to normal soon but for right now many things are beyond my control. I can do what I know I need to do: ice, ibuprofen, rest, gentle stretching and walking. I sometimes remember what it’s like to feel “normal” but in the midst of injury I tend to focus only on how I feel at the moment. That little cluster of nerves in my lumbar region has succeeded in taking my focus off of nearly everything else.
Previous injuries like this have sent me to the emergency room or at least the doctor where they prescribe all the things I am doing with the addition of painkillers or muscle relaxers and “prescription” 800 mg ibuprofen tablets. Oh, and it comes with a nice hefty bill as well. This time I swore I wasn’t going to the doctor. I almost gave in several times last night and again today but then I started to feel a bit better. I even managed to shower. That may not seem like a big deal but when you can’t even stand without holding on desperately to a wall or crutch it is. I did what I needed to do previously to recover, minus prescriptions and bills, and it is working.
To get back to the reflecting I’ve been doing, I realized that everything I have, everything I worked towards can disappear in an instant. Sure, I’m recovering quicker thanks to being in better shape. I’m able to adapt to the situation by using arm and shoulder muscles to move things, including myself, without relying on my broken core, but let’s say I couldn’t. If my injury was severe enough I won’t able to perform the physically demanding job I have ever again. Then what? I have been working on physical improvement but if I lose the ability to use those improvements what is left?
I’ve neglected the emotional, intellectual and spiritual side of things. Trying to fall back on any of those is like leaning on a crutch made of balsa wood. I can make do with it but it will be slow and dangerous, an accident waiting to happen. I look back to the beginnings of this blog and remember that at the time I was leaning much towards intellectual and spiritual pursuits. Then life came along, I took a break from everything and basically checked out. Oh sure, I still read a lot of books, research the subjects I’m interested in and “keep in touch” with God but I certainly haven’t worked very hard at progressing or improving.
As people we are multifaceted. We aren’t purely physical creatures. We aren’t purely spiritual. We certainly aren’t just giant brains floating around. We, like our Creator, have many different aspects of what makes us what we are. We need to exercise and strengthen them all if we wish to not only survive, but thrive.
“Keep moving forward” proclaims my little blog. I won’t say I’ve failed to take my own advice but I have neglected it. I stumbled long ago but I forgot to keep crawling forward until I could stand again. Time to start crawling. I’ll be walking soon, then running.
I’m running long on this post because I haven’t written in a while but bear with me. Just 3 pieces of advice I’ve gleaned from looking back over the past year, a quick question or two and then we’re done.
- Don’t ignore the little things inside that can cause you pain. Physically, mentally (patterns of thought), emotionally (hanging on to anger, letting depression rule, etc.), and spiritually (sin, ignoring/hiding from God) we all have warning signs that things are sliding downhill. Learn to recognize them and try to nip them in the bud.
- Use knowledge and wisdom from previous experiences and other people to help you get back on track if thing aren’t going the way they should.
- Focus on being a whole person. Try not to focus exclusively on one aspect of your life for improvement. Sure, if you are planning a marathon run you have to focus on physically being able to do it but don’t neglect the other aspects of yourself in order to do so. Ramp up the intensity of your physical workouts but not at the expense of rest, prayer time, time spent with family and friends, etc. Work on keeping a balance.
Finally friends, a few questions. Have you gone through seasons like this? Have you found yourself focusing on becoming better at “X” to the exclusion of Y or Z? What impact did that have on your life? I’d love for you to share in the comments and I want to thank those of you who kept checking and waiting for something new from me. I do apologize for my absence and offer no excuses. I’m hopeful we can pick up where we left off and continue our journey.