faith · Letting Go

Breaking up with Back Pain

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All I could hear were leaves crunching beneath my hiking books as we made our way around another curve of the trail. Leaves were falling, adding to the ocean of burnt red and orange. There wasn’t another soul on the trail besides Mr. Engineer and I; perhaps the wildfires burning nearby had scared all the woodland creatures away, because even the birds and squirrels were silent. There was only a gentle breeze and leaves snowing a blanket on the ground. We were in a rhythm and my eyes traveled from the trees to the path beneath me (I’m known for tripping).

Since it was too difficult to carry on conversation above all the crunching, I began to pray and let my mind wander. I felt my back starting to loosen and unwind with each step. I had been fighting back pain all morning and welcomed the unraveling of all the tight places. My mind opened up to other things besides trying to ignore the pain or falling into despair over the discomfort.

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The flutter of leaves falling all around me reminded me of the song, Seasons Change, and I began singing (in my head) the lines I could remember. The changing of the seasons signals movement – a period of growth, a time of rest or renewal, a sign that things are different. It awakens us to something new.

Back pain has been a companion of mine for a couple of years now. We aren’t friends, but we can’t seem to split up for good. Back pain creeps up most when I sit for long periods of time. Long car rides, watching a movie, or sitting at a desk leaves me stiff, sore, and often in a lot of pain. Often those sitting-still times are when my mind wanders into fearful, anxious places instead of surrendering and resting in the love of my Savior.

But here I was, moving forward. Not knowing what was ahead. This hike was unplanned and we didn’t know how far we would go and we didn’t have a destination in mind. Was this it? Moving forward?

I tend to over-think, be over-responsible, want to know the outcome, and to control the situation. Where does this lead? Nowhere. Stuck. Stagnant. Stressed.

Instead of leaves grazing my shoulders, I became aware of a flood of peace washing over my anxious mind and burdened shoulders. And it moved to my heart where I sensed truth. And to my belly where the nervousness most often starts, I felt nothing but good.

Mr. Engineer lives for metaphors – he loves to share his own thoughts with me in this form and so I downloaded my mind’s process to him. Slowly at first, as it takes time to develop emotions into concrete thoughts and pictures.

“What do you think?”
“It makes sense.”

sense:
verb
 1. perceive by a sense or senses.
“with the first frost, they could sense a change in the days”

Yes, I sense a change in the days. The creative projects I’ve been too insecure to start. Too aware of the risks and not fully understanding the rewards. Seasons changing and moving forward are hard, but I think staying still is the more difficult thing.

Stillness has an important place too, but only when it is rooted in love and peace, not fear.

I feel the best when I am moving – walking with Mr. Engineer, doing yoga and moving with my breath, or cooking a meal for people I love. The thinking ends and the letting go begins in those places. And that is when I am most pain-free.

Have you ever noticed any connection between physical pain and your emotions? What is your experience with changing seasons and moving forward?

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2 thoughts on “Breaking up with Back Pain

  1. For me there is a definite connection between my emotions and my physical pain. I am learning to pay more attention to what my body is telling me while it is whispering and before it gets to yelling! You are not alone!

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