Low tide: the beauty of ebb and flow

I was at the gym yesterday, and I struggled through my workout. One thing that not many people know about me is that I have a genetic nerve disorder. It is degenerative, but I have been very fortunate to have mild symptoms. While symptoms with this disorder usually appear in the early teen years, mine didn’t show up until I was 30. I am hopeful that if I keep up on physical fitness my muscles will not atrophy to the point of needing to be in a wheelchair.

I refuse to let this thing take me over. So far, other than numbness and a little bit of pain, and ugly feet, my life has not been severely impacted. Still, it is the thorn in my side that keeps me leaning on God, and by His grace I am okay.

But sometimes I am reminded of my limitations during my workouts. I have to be aware of the stress I put on my body. I tend to push myself too hard sometimes, which sends me to bed for a few days with pain and weakness.

Last night was one of those nights where I had to remind myself to pull back a bit. My skin started to hurt as I ran on the treadmill, so I had to settle for a fast, steep walk.

It’s easy to get depressed during these times. My mind always flips to fifteen years in the future. What if I’m still single? What if I am wheelchair bound and there will be no one to take care of me? Or if my hands stop working and I can’t type or even pick up a pen? How would I cope if I could not write? How would I make a living? How would I survive?

But last night, as I stretched after my workout, I saw a glimpse of my reflection in a glass window. It was almost like a silhouette, caught by the strange angle and slant of the light. I saw the gracefulness of my movements as I went through the yoga poses, the way my body moved in concert with my breath. I felt the tightness of my muscles give in to the pull and stretch.

My body still works. It is older and a little broken, but it is still beautiful. I cannot do a lot of things. I will never run a marathon or be the winning star on the softball team. But I can still do a lot, and these are the things that I focus on in times like this, when the fear of the future creeps in.

And I am reminded of something I read in “Surprised by the Voice of God” by Jack Deere: “Who can deny the sovereign ebb and flow between the ocean of heaven and the shores of earth? But aren’t we to long for the flow rather than be content with the ebb?”

Life is an ebb and flow. Times when things are given to us and times when they are taken away. There are times when I am strong and able and when my nerve disorder is not even a conscious thought in my mind. And there are times when I am so aware of it I have to pray my way through the fear.

I am not content in the times of ebb. I will not give in and allow myself to become obese and inactive. The discontent and the fear keeps me longing for the flow. And it is in these places when I encounter the beauty and joy of God’s love and care for me.

Today I am in pain, a remnant from last night’s work out. My hands and arms are tingling, as though a million needles are being shoved into my veins. But I got up this morning. Today I am walking and I am grateful for it.

When the tide is low we find the treasures hiding in the shoreline. And even if it beaches our vessels, we can have faith that the tide will once again rise.

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