At this point, one of the most frustrating things after my double mastectomy and reconstruction is how my body has been cut, stretched, and pieced back together... 4 different times over the past year. My skin feels extremely tight and sore, which makes sleep very difficult.
Now you have to understand: Sleep and I were BFF's before cancer... well, before kids... but the reality is, at this point, it's very hard to sleep more than a few hours at a time. And to function well at work and home, I need my sleep! When that doesn't happen, it perpetuates a discouraging cycle.
The other night as I was laying in bed trying to fall back asleep after a particularly exhausting day, my underarms, chest, sides, back, and abdomen hurt terribly. Everything had been pulled to uncomfortable new places. I was so frustrated and in so much pain I couldn't sleep. And then God tenderly used that time to give me a powerful metaphor.
He reminded me of the parallels to being stretched in life.
- We're all stretched -- at home, at work, in our relationships, and in our walk with God.
- Sometimes we choose to stretch ourselves (to do more/get better), and sometimes we're chosen (because a change needs to happen, and we're just not ready).
- Stretching hurts. (If it feels good, it's a whole different kind of stretch and typically involves rest and comfort.)
- Stretching is a process that takes time.
- Stretching is uncomfortable.
- Stretching is essential if you want to grow into the fullness of God's plan for your life.
I've decided that when we're stretched beyond our capacity it's the perfect opportunity to trust God to deliver us to -- or through -- the situation or the results we desire:
- more love and grace for those from whom we've selfishly withheld it
- healed relationships with those from whom we've closed ourselves off
- new skills that make us better at our jobs, or trusting God for an exciting new career
- improved wellness physically, spiritually, and emotionally
- freeing ourselves of addictions and courageously setting new boundaries
- having the tough conversations even when it's uncomfortable or difficult
- reconciling ourselves with God after we feel He's hurt us or taken something (or someone) away
And I've learned something else -- stretching almost always makes things better! That's what I thought about last night when I couldn't sleep. That's why I woke up today and started doing my physical therapy exercises again. Instead of resisting, let's embrace the process and stretch ourselves in expectation of greater things to come.
"If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves;
But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed." Proverbs 29:18 (MSG)
Special thanks to my friend, Tracy Turner, for the divine reminder to finish this post. I started it a month ago, and I stretched myself this morning to finish it! :)