A Tough Pill To Swallow
Last year when I was having trouble with back pain, I went through a process of learning some exercises to improve my posture, to strengthen my neck and the muscles around my “scapula” (Did I get that right?), and I remember the trainer guy at the chiropractor’s office told me that I would probably need to do a few of these exercises consistently (every day or close to) FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.
Say what? For the rest of my life? Yes. That’s what he said. “FOR-EV-ER.” (Name that movie.)
How inconvenient! I don’t have time to stop and find a flat wall and do weird arm raise things every single day for the rest of my life. Foam rolling my whole body before or after exercise for the rest of my life?
I think I was initially depressed at the onset of this suggestion because I was hoping we were just gonna fix my problem and then I could go BACK to the way things were before. Don’t we all kind of wish for this? By the time we are about 30, things stop working the way they once did. I think at the first onset of such a struggle, we all want to fix it and go back to the way things were. This is an awful place to stay because life becomes about getting back to something, and most difficulties are seen as hindrances to living like we did as an 18 year old… before all these problems.
Let me tell you friends, there is no going back. And the sooner you accept it, the better.
Life will present us with challenges, and we can either allow them to work for us- to teach us to change our habits, to become conscious of things that we used to take for granted, to re-think the way we do things. Or we can keep wishing that these challenges could just go away so we can finally be free from all the hindrances.
We accept this on some level, but not on others. Like food. None of us expect to eat one meal and be satisfied for the rest of our lives. We have to keep nourishing. And hunger is not a hindrance (I mean, sometimes it feels like one when you’re busy and you don’t really want to stop what you’re doing), but a signal that we need food.
Most of us don’t think we can exercise for a week and reap the benefits for the rest of our lives. No one actually thinks, “I’ll take the next six months to get in shape and then once I am in shape, I’ll finally be able to stop working out.” No. We know better.
So, why would we expect it to be different with other things? Like, teaching our children. We at first think we only need to teach them a lesson once, or complete a specific parenting technique, and they’ll finally get it and take it easy on us? LOL. Or cooking meals. I actually wrote here about the near depression that set in for me when I realized I was going to be the person making meals happen in my household for the next two decades… only slightly dramatic. (But possibly my favorite post ever written.)
It’s true in your spiritual life, your financial life, etc… Like, when you become a Christian, you don’t just “get saved” and then go back to living however you want. Or you don’t just pray once or read the Bible once and then you’re good. No, you let your soul get nourished daily. You turn to God daily. Money… you have to keep making it. Ask anyone who sells anything for a living. You don’t typically make a deal and never have to work again.
I got this question in relationship to supplements the other day… will I have to take this forever? I get you, I know you want to fix your problem and go back to the way things were, but as long as you think this way, you’re going to be really disappointed. You drink water every day, you eat food everyday, you look at a phone everyday, you sit at at desk everyday, you have habits that are in place every single day, and if you want to live life well, there are going to have to be other things you do everyday too… like correct the way you sit, disconnect from wifi, pay attention to your gut and your sleep and your exercise and your soul. For-ev-er.
Here’s the secret. For awhile, I got really, really overwhelmed when I thought about “forever.” I probably wouldn’t have said it out loud, but I wanted a quick fix. Let’s just get it all in order and then go on. And I’d also get overwhelmed when I would think about how much work was left to be done… in a lot of areas, but let’s just say back pain for example. The little posture correction class was really humbling for me bc they found a weakness, and I wasn’t very good at it. But you know the secret to not getting overwhelmed? One, look at how far you’ve come from when you first began. Even if you haven’t come far, be thankful that there is hope. Two, only focus on what needs to be done today. Just what needs to be done today.
Here’s the other thing. For awhile, I also felt like all my struggles were just keeping me from being able to focus on other people, on more important things… I thought that real faith and real power would just fix them so that I could go be awesome and help others. On the contrary. The struggles, as sucky as they are- they fill me with compassion. And as I let them teach me, then I gain something valuable to share with other people… and real relationships are formed.
Lastly, the things you add to your life… these “forever” habits. They become exactly that – habits. Second nature. There are things I do today that I didn’t do 10 years ago, and I do them without thinking about it… it’s not crazy awesome willpower. It’s not extreme discipline. It’s second nature. But it started with a conscious effort. I tell you that to say, don’t be intimidated by forever. Make a conscious effort, and then when you are setback, remind yourself that there’s plenty of time – that Rome wasn’t built in day. No one has “arrived.” That’s a big lie. Accept that, and keep moving forward.
I think that sums it up for now. Happy “hump day” to you!