This past Sunday, I was reminded of the beauty that comes with taking time to stop and breathe. I was asked to do two Vespers services at a retirement home, and preached a sermon on acknowledging the breath as an active sign of God working.
In retrospect, I realized that I was surrounded by dozens of people who really didn’t need that message. By definition, retire means to retreat. They have to take things slower, and they have time to sit and breathe. I realized that God had given me that message to preach for myself, and that those congregation members were serving as testaments to my words.
The word “go” holds a tricky place in my heart. In late 2010, I was diagnosed with Multiple Connective Tissue Disorder, an autoimmune disease which primarily affects my joint and muscle tissue.
Before I was diagnosed, I was captain of my varsity volleyball team. I’d come home from practice at 5pm every day completely exhausted. I would go to sleep, then in the morning, wake up with a stiffness in my body that made it tough to get out of bed. I walked the halls of school sore and still tired, then would end up at volleyball practice again, where I would find something wrong with my body (wrist, ankle, knee, etc).
After my rheumatologist took four million gallons of blood for test, I learned what the cause of all that was, MCTD. In talking about the disease with him, I was informed that my body was attacking itself, and that it worked differently because of it, hence the tiredness and soreness. For this reason, I’d need to get it through my head that it was okay to stop.
I’ve always been a pretty active person. Yeah, I enjoy working out and playing sports, but I also am a busybody, running around always having to do something to feel productive or important. Then, here I was at a time in my life when I couldn’t. “Go, go, go” anymore. I physically couldn’t. It was then, that I had to teach myself how not to go; how to stop.
It’s tough, I think; to realize that you or your body or your situation can’t handle anymore. Your self, something which has gotten you so far, is now failing you, in your mind, telling you no, you can’t do this.
I remember laying in bed on a rare Saturday where there was no volleyball or other engagements. I’d be wide awake, but not be able to lure myself up to go to the bathroom. Once, I remember standing up, then ending up sitting on the rug just next to my bed, feeling the exhaustion wash over me. Even when I ( or my bladder) wanted to go, my body said stop.
Today, I’m working through this process still, finding my own personal balance and formula for this semi-new body that I’m working with. Now, I find no guilt in a day spent in bed, but I also know the value of a trip to the gym to loosen my joints.
I’m still learning, but I feel a little better about predicting my own personal stoplight; when the light will turn green or yellow or red. And that’s important, because with this information, I find the strength and courage I need to go.