Have you ever heard the phrase:
The longest distance to travel is the 18 inches between our head and our heart.
I know. Cliched or what? I can barely believe I just typed it, and actually started this post with it. I promise not to say it ever again. Never.
But there’s an ironic truth about it, don’t you reckon? When we pause and get over its cheesiness.
Take today for example, I’ve just got over the pain last week’s physiotherapy caused to my bad back, and the pain of a certain female monthly event, and now – well now, I have a bad cold. I know right. The superstitious amongst us say bad things happen in threes – I flipping hope you’re right!
I feel rotten. But to top it off, I don’t just feel rotten about my health. I’m a student, which means deadlines loom, seminars demand my attendance, coursemates work on around me, in my favourite coffee shops, even in bars. I see them, looking productive, whilst I slump off home to blow my nose and nap and blow my nose some more.
“Quit with the whimpering” I hear you say “we’ve all had a cold before!”, so I won’t overplay it. But, you get the scene (albeit a slightly over-painted scene).
I am in a mindset of defeat. Emotionally sensitive. Unproductive in my studies. Lying down a lot to recover, but lacking real rest. And my past week has felt like a total write off – and I probably need a few more written off days before I’m back to myself again.
In this situation, truth be told, I haven’t been doing so well.
See I had two options on how to respond:
Rest or Wrestle.
I chose the latter.
I chose to wrestle with my tired mind, my stuffy head and achy body and tell it off for under-performing. I haven’t worked out in weeks and am behind on where I’d like to be with my essays. I lack motivation, mostly because I lack energy, and I haven’t given myself chance to rest, pray or collect my thoughts. I can’t justify stopping properly (even if my plodding along isn’t getting me anywhere).
And there we have it. “I can justify it”…justify it to who…myself? The ill person who can’t really be blamed for back pain, female things and a cold. Or other people? People who I compare myself to?
Who is it I so desperately need to please? What is it I so desperately need to prove?
If you ever asked me the truth God says about me, about my identity, my worth, my purpose, I could reel them off for you poetically and perhaps convincingly.
If you asked my right now if I feel that way, I would struggle to convince you. I don’t feel worthy, justified, treasured. I don’t feel like I am enough. But let me get more work done, let my muscles look a little stronger, let my social calendar be a little fuller then…maybe…
Is it just me?
“Then I’ll be ok”, “Then I’ll start again”, “I’ll sort it out again”, “I’ll get back on track”…constantly striving to be a better version of me, and not satisfied with where I am right now (currently surrounded by tissues and an empty box of chocolate fingers – sorry, now I’ve probably made you want chocolate fingers. They’re great, right?!)
You see when we’re at our weakest, is when we need the truth to be so cemented in us we can’t forget it.
It’s when I’m at my lowest I am unfortunately able to see when certain truths, certain lessons, have not made it those precious 18 inches. I can know them until the cows come home, but if I don’t believe them, if I don’t let them sooth my troubled mind when I’m facing the stuff of life, what use are they?
These truths have power – power to transform minds, transform lives, transform how we take on illness, how we see our imperfections, how we stay steady in the crashing waves. These truths are not niceties to have in pretty photo frames – these truths are gritty, fierce and hard to swallow. They’re not a weak, encouraging pat on the back; they’re a grueling personal trainer, shouting at us to be our best, to keep our mind in check, to take lying thoughts captive. To fully believe our worth is no passive act, it takes perseverance, it takes intentionality, it take discipline. Lies can actually be much easier to swallow sometimes.
To know my identity is not in my degree, my fitness, my social calendar or anything else like that – but instead is in how my God sees me, is tough to live out. It requires me to stare the pressure to be “on top of it all” dead square in the face and say “nope, not today, you don’t tell me who I am” and be willing to face whatever it throws my way in response.
So, I’ll sniff away. I’ll begin to rest. To breathe. To pray. To re-centre. And to relearn the lesson I still haven’t quite mastered.
And know, I am enough.