Lately, I’ve been feeling a scary word. One that I don’t like to use to define myself.
Brittle, broken, cracked.
Flimsy, delicate, vulnerable.
Weak, empty, easily destroyed.
I’ve been stumbling around the last two months dealing with a confusing and frightening sickness that strikes at inopportune moments (right before a wedding and in the middle of taking a final exam), leaving me huddled in my bed, sending teary texts to my boyfriend.
It’s not pretty.
No diet change, medicine, or googling brought relief and, two months later, here I am, ten pounds weaker, dreaming of the days when I had enough energy to exercise or even go on a walk. Besides the unpleasant reality of having to work around an unpleasant and interrupting sickness, I’ve had to readjust how I look at my body.
Over the last 6 years, after I walked away from the world of ballet, I began to discover and understand my body like I never had before. Countless years of dancing and pushing my body had left me with scars, bruises, and a lot of blisters. All that time spent sewing pointe shoes, using a lighter to melt the ribbon edges together, perusing stacks of tights and racks of leotards, missing yet another friend’s birthday party to go to rehearsal, and I really didn’t know myself.
When I decided to leave the ballet world, I eventually found myself entering a whole new world that I had never been a part of: being in charge of my own body. No one telling me to work out this muscle more or stretch this muscle every night before bed. No more “turn out this” or “move your head like this.” I could decide what to do and when.
Somehow, around this time, I began to discover the beautiful world of yoga. Where the point was just being, not looking a certain way or achieving a certain pose. Instead, the yogi was to focus on how it felt getting to a pose; listening to your body along the journey. Corny? Maybe. Life changing? Definitely.
In the last year, I suddenly realized how important yoga had become to me. The practice of breathing slow and discovering myself a long the way had changed how I saw my body. It was no less of a tool that I used to help me jump high or turn quickly in pointe shoes. My body was now my friend; a friend that supported me and helped me realize when I needed to slow down and rest. I could count on my body now. To lift a heavy box or tear apart sheetrock. To stretch in the morning and gently warm up before a big day. My breath helped me to breathe slow in stressful situations and my scars reminded me of all I had been through and all that my body had survived. A long time sufferer of migraines, I was now gentle and kind to my body when a headache turned nasty and let myself sink into bed as long as it needed.
But all of this changed over the last two months.
Suddenly, without warning, I fainted. My body gave out on me and left me dazed and confused. I was too scared to drive on my own or attempt big events. I felt small and weak and scared. As March and April went by, my body continued to be unreliable and often exhausted. I fell into a rhythm of thinking I had conquered the sickness when suddenly I would be hit over the head with it and crawl back into bed.
As my body is finally, slowly beginning to heal, I have been dwelling a lot on the realization that I cannot always count on my body to support me. My body is human and does not have all the answers. There are days when my body is not strong enough to make it through every activity and that is okay. Because above all of it, when I am weak and fragile, God is strong.
When I begin to look at myself for saving and healing, I quickly lose my footing. Doctors and medicine can help the human body, but only God can heal my soul and build me up strong. As my physical body struggles at regaining its footing but my heart keeps happily beating along, I am reminded that at the end of the day I am fragile, broken, and easily destroyed. I cannot count on my body to always be strong and healthy. However, I have a God who is always strong, always secure, and never destroyed.
What is trying to beat you down this spring? In what ways do you feel betrayed and vulnerable? I’d love to hear!!
photo via unspash