It happened on a Sunday morning. I was up 7:30am and moving at light speed making breakfast, changing my daughter, getting clothes ready for church for both kids and trying to catch bites in between. When I finally got finished getting kids fed, hairs combed and styled, I was finally on my way to getting myself showered and dressed and that’s when it happened. It started off as a light dizzy feeling. I felt the pain rising in my back almost as if the blood in my body was slowly being replaced by cement. I asked my husband to use a handheld massager we had at home to help relieve some of the tension. I started to feel some relief and then I went back to getting myself ready. My husband had finished getting the kids strapped in our car when I called him from my phone in the kitchen after what seemed like a ten minute walk from the bathroom to our kitchen. I put him on speaker and told him I couldn’t come to church with them.
When he came in to check on me, I was starting to break out in sweats and felt chills all over my body and within a few minutes I was unable to walk. The fear that took me at that moment was incredibly real as I had no idea what was happening to me. As I was searching my mind to understand what was going on inside my body, the radio in my mind began playing “Humble Me” by Norah Jones. The lyrics that came to mind immediately were: “went out on a limb, gone too far, broke down at the side of the road, stranded at the outskirts and the sun’s creepin’ up…”. I broke into tears as I sat and my husband helped me to bed.
“What just happened?”, I thought, as I tried to figure out what went wrong. I had a busy week of late night food preparations, shopping, and hosting for Thanksgiving and the weeks before were just as busy with hectic works schedules and kids. My outlet has always been to work out and do something physical to help me manage my stress but the last 2 weeks and increased COVID restrictions made it more difficult than normal to get to the gym. I was finally able to get to the gym on the Saturday after Thanksgiving for a great cardio workout and I was finally starting to feel like myself again. And then on Sunday everything that I had been able to do without difficulty suddenly felt like the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I hadn’t felt this immobile since after the birth of our daughter.
Almost immediately following the episode, I was overwhelmed with feelings of guilt and shame. My mind flooded with the thoughts: “how could you be so stupid?”, “this is all your fault!”, “what are you going to do when he has to go back to work?”, “if you took better care of yourself, this never would have happened!”. The condemnation I felt was worse than the pain itself at times. Then I remembered it was Sunday. Sunday…Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest for the Christian. Shabbat, on Saturday in Jewish tradition, is a day to remember that God rested from all His work in the creation of the world. A day of rest. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time when I truly rested. Sundays are often fraught with activity for us, in addition to ministry obligations, there’s mowing the grass, weekly Costco runs after church and meal prep and laundry.
Here was my body crying out for rest and I didn’t know it. And somehow in God’s mercy, he allowed this massive muscle spasm to render me helpless to humble me. In the business of living, I had come to rely more on maintaining physical fitness, eating healthy and incessant activity than on God’s simple to instructions to maintain regular intervals of rest. Our culture is driven by activity and productivity and shames those who can’t compete, have disabilities or are rendered helpless based on their circumstances. Now COVID shows up and forces us to all realign our priorities. Even as I am recovering, I can be thankful for the forced rest and the love of my husband and children and the help that God provides in friends. Everyone needs rest-including me and I for one want to learn this lesson only once.