Advent 1.3: Feeling your pain


I have two exercise gurus that I depend on these days. One is Emily, my fantastic yoga instructor. The other is Jessica, who you can work with, too! 

During yesterday's workout, a particularly tough one, Jessica exclaimed, "I am with you! Feeling your pain." And in that moment in late 2017, as we panted and hefted our 10-pound weights, it didn't matter that she was actually speaking those words on January 29, 2013 when the video was first published. It didn't matter that she wasn't physically in the room with us. I knew that in that moment nearly five years ago, she had been exactly where we were (well, maybe a little more in shape since this is what she does for a living). She understood and had experienced the effort that we were putting into the exercise; in fact, much of the work I put into it was thanks to watching her own effort and hearing her encouragement on the other side of the camera.

I am with you! Feeling your pain, says the Lord our God, who feels our pain because God became flesh and dwelt among us. God is with us in the workouts of life, lifting the dumb bells, as we sweat and groan and yell at the exercise instructor on the screen who can't hear us (sorry, Jessica). And though God can hear us when we yell, in whatever space or time zone we're in, we don't always feel like that's the case. Sometimes, God makes us wait it out, push ourselves to the brink of throbbing muscles and pounding heart--but God is still there, experiencing it with us.

And then, no matter how interminable the exertion may seem, there suddenly comes the calm--the transition from lifting to stretching, from groaning to gratitude that we have bodies that can do even half of this good work. And we're stronger for tomorrow.

In yoga class, Emily often says that learning to breathe through intense and difficult stretches (pigeon, anyone?) will help us learn to breathe through intense and difficult life situations. I love this, the idea that applying our life breath so purposefully on an individual level, when it's just our mind and our body one-on-one, can strengthen our responses when we're out in the world among our fellow humans.

May our breath move us forward into this sometimes difficult time of waiting. And may God always be with us, through the struggle and the calm.

[Photo by Ricardo Estefânio on Unsplash]