I am forty now and things like simply sleeping can turn out to be a health hazard when you wake up and can’t move your neck! At least that’s what happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I looked like I had been in some kind of terrible accident where you wear a neck brace and have to use your whole body to turn. Except I wasn’t wearing a neck brace and hadn’t been in a terrible accident. In fact, I had slept on a silk pillowcase like a dainty flower. So, I did some stretches, I rubbed some essential oils on it, I put my back massager on the stiff area and it sort of all helped. But as time went on, it was this nagging dull pain that turned into loud pain. My husband, sick of hearing my complaints and knowing my tendency to dig my heels in and not ask for help, scheduled me an appointment with the chiropractor.
As I sat on the crinkle-papered bed, we looked at my x-rays and she told me all the ways my spine and neck were wonky. I reiterated that I just woke up one day and my back was yelling at me. She matter-of-factly responded, “Likely this has been going on a long while and when you slept in a wrong angle, it amplified the deeper issues going on. These x-rays always tell on you, and so does your body.”
Well, that was rude, Dr. Jess.
It always feels weird when people have x-ray vision and you can’t hide behind, “I’m fine!” anymore. I wasn’t fine.
As time went on, appointment after appointment, I started to feel better. It still hurts and I have some ways to go, but I want to fix that deeper issue so I don’t have to feel this way anymore. More importantly, I don’t want it to get so bad that I can’t do the things I love to do like walking or playing with my kids or beating my neighbors at cornhole (the only sport I play).
It made me think about how far we like to go on our own without asking for help from God or how deep we can get into trouble by hiding behind “I’m okay” with friends — all while the spiritual x-rays of our life would show something different. If you’re like me, you will throw bandaids on things that need a physician’s help, care, and readjusting. And so it is with our faith, minds, and hearts. We can temporarily numb out our pain with a number of things like social media, shopping, eating, drinking, working out, etc. This is especially true after the past couple years of muddling through some very trying times! But the very things that helped us get through can sometimes turn into a big weight, making our posture hunch and inflaming our bodies down to the bone.
In Proverbs 27:19 it says:
As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.
There’s just no hiding the overflow of our hearts and minds, even though we think we are doing a great job of managing or pushing away the pain.
The x-ray reflected my jacked-up back just like looking in water will show a person’s face. And because I couldn’t hide it anymore, and because I got some help in the proper place (a doctor), I could be readjusted to living in light of how I was supposed to be walking and sitting and sleeping all along. I wasn’t made to carry all this weight on my own, and neither are you.
As believers, our remedy comes from the Great Physician. But don’t we tend to come to Him once we’re worn out, weary from trying to fix it all on our own? After exhausting all other avenues and coming up short? He knew we would do that — because we’re human.
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
Matthew 11:28 (MSG)
I read this and breathe in so deeply. I picture myself handing over my huge backpack and Jesus taking it on His own back. I picture letting Him assess my injuries from walking so long with no rest. And the tender care of His touch, the relief I feel from not having to fix the hardest things in life, feels so incredibly good.
If you’re feeling heavy, maybe this will be good news for you too. He will replace your heaviness with lightness; He just can’t help Himself.