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Tiny tears

I’ll bet if I lie here long enough, I could fall asleep. I wonder how long I could sleep before someone noticed and woke me up. Mmmm, this is nice. I’m going to lie here for just one more minute…

I had just finished my last set of push-ups, and I sprawled out on the mat at the gym like a doughy pie crust. I’m so tired. I really hate working out. Always have. I avoided it completely until about three years ago when my mom was diagnosed with osteoporosis and later with herniated disks. She’s had at least three rounds of steroid shots in her back so far. Suddenly, a few push-ups didn’t seem so bad. Much better than needles.

Every Thursday morning, I drag myself to the BodyWorks class at my gym because Lynn makes me do things that I know are good for me but I would never, ever do on my own. At least for very long. I really need someone to make me do it. For one hour, she counts down as we lift free weights and do endless sets of push-ups and crunches and squats and planks and torture our muscles into submission so they will be stronger and we will be healthier and that bathing suit and those sleeveless shirts won’t look quite so hideous when the weather gets warmer.

It’s great. Really.

For the rest of the day, I manage pretty well. My muscles are tired, but functional. However, I wake up Friday morning barely able to walk, and by Saturday I am useless. I try to avoid the upstairs floor of our home during those two days because walking up the stairs is excruciating, and walking down is absolutely impossible.

Then an odd thing happens. By Sunday, I feel better. Still a little sore, but able to move. I make it through my week with a little more strength, a little more energy, and by the time Thursday rolls around, I’m able to lift a little more weight, do a few more reps, walk out of the class a little less tired. Just a little.

I am woman. I am strong! RRRRROOOOOAAAAARRRRR!

Now, please leave me alone for just a minute so I can stretch out on this mat and catch a quick little nap. I’ll get up in a sec. I just need to lie here. Give me a minute.

An odd analogy has been swimming around in my imagination this last week. I remember hearing something about strength training and muscle growth: lifting weights actually creates tiny tears in the muscle fiber. Then after a few days, the muscle rebuilds itself to be stronger than it was before, as if to say Thanks a lot. Now please don’t do that to me again. Out of great injury comes greater healing.

Huh. Interesting.

Struggle + rest + rebuilding = strength.

Life hands us really big questions on a really heavy platter. That platter is stacked tall with a wide assortment of heartache and worry and sickness and burdens. Lifting that platter and figuring out what to do with it takes more strength than we are capable of. Lifting that platter tears the delicate fibers of our faith. It weakens them and breaks them down until we are left lying on the floor, craving rest and redemption.

Yet slowly, surely, our faith rebuilds. It returns stronger. It stands back up, astonished at its own survival, and keeps moving. Keeps walking. Keeps lifting.

Somehow in the aftermath, those questions and heartaches and burdens don’t seem quite as heavy. The faith-fibers cry out, Please don’t do that again! – but still knows that it is strong enough to bear whatever the Great Platter of Life may dish out next time.

Lift the platter. Wrestle with the questions. Bear the burdens. Cry out over the heartache.

Let the Healer rebuild your faith. Stand up stronger. Flex your muscles.

Begin again.

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