One of the best things about being with other believers is the (hoped for) grace usually given by all. It's March 16th and this month's freedom post is just now posted. Grace. February was a shorter month anyways, so I'm not as off track as the calendar says. How are you? Where is the Lord taking you in your freedom journey? How far off were you in your assumption of how this would go down? I was way off. Like, waaaaaay off. And I can only assume I'm still way off, even knowing what I do 2 months in. Grace again, right?
The Lord has brought Psalm 139 to the forefront of my mind this month. Several times it has been referenced in various places, and has come across in my own study time. For me it's one of the many verses that I sort of skim over because, well, I know all about it (insert finger quotations).
I'm wonderfully made.
His works are marvelous.
He knew me in my mother's womb.
But He knew I needed a lesson in His heart. I needed to know, in a different way, the words He knew my heart and mind longed to read.
1 O Eternal One, You have explored my heart and know exactly who I am; 2 You even know the small details like when I take a seat and when I stand up again. Even when I am far away, You know what I’m thinking. 3 You observe my wanderings and my sleeping, my waking and my dreaming, and You know everything I do in more detail than even I know. 4 You know what I’m going to say long before I say it. It is true, Eternal One, that You know everything and everyone. 5 You have surrounded me on every side, behind me and before me, and You have placed Your hand gently on my shoulder. 6 It is the most amazing feeling to know how deeply You know me, inside and out; the realization of it is so great that I cannot comprehend it.
7 Can I go anywhere apart from Your Spirit? Is there anywhere I can go to escape Your watchful presence?
8 If I go up into heaven, You are there. If I make my bed in the realm of the dead, You are there. 9 If I ride on the wings of morning, if I make my home in the most isolated part of the ocean, 10 Even then You will be there to guide me; Your right hand will embrace me, for You are always there. 11 Even if I am afraid and think to myself, “There is no doubt that the darkness will swallow me, the light around me will soon be turned to night,” 12 You can see in the dark, for it is not dark to Your eyes. For You the night is just as bright as the day. Darkness and light are the same to Your eyes.
13 For You shaped me, inside and out. You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath. 14 I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe. You have approached even the smallest details with excellence; Your works are wonderful; I carry this knowledge deep within my soul. 15 You see all things; nothing about me was hidden from You As I took shape in secret, carefully crafted in the heart of the earth before I was born from its womb. 16 You see all things; You saw me growing, changing in my mother’s womb; Every detail of my life was already written in Your book; You established the length of my life before I ever tasted the sweetness of it. 17 Your thoughts and plans are treasures to me, O God! I cherish each and every one of them! How grand in scope! How many in number! 18 If I could count each one of them, they would be more than all the grains of sand on earth. Their number is inconceivable! Even when I wake up, I am still near to You.
19 I wish You would destroy all the wicked, O God. So keep away from me, those who are thirsty for blood! 20 For they say such horrible things about You, and those who are against You abuse Your good name. 21 Is it not true that I hate all who hate You, Eternal One? Is it not true that I despise all who come against You? 22 Deep hatred boils within me toward them; I am Your friend, and they are my enemies. 23 Explore me, O God, and know the real me. Dig deeply and discover who I am. Put me to the test and watch how I handle the strain. 24 Examine me to see if there is an evil bone in me, and guide me down Your path forever.
-Psalm 139 (the Voice)
There is so much here. And if you do like I had always done, and skim through this, you are missing a very direct love letter to that girl inside who shames herself and her body. Who tells herself that her talents aren't good enough and that her body will always disappoint. Come with me to verse 14:
"I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe. You have approached even the smallest details with excellence; Your works are wonderful; I carry this knowledge deep within my soul."
Read that verse again and then stop and ask yourself this question: What kind of woman or man would I be if I truly lived these words?
And allow me to challenge you to something greater. To a life immersed in His truth. Ask the Lord to grow you in your ability to default to what you know of HIM instead of what you know of you when the going gets tough and the enemies taunting words of deceit seem to sound a lot like truth.
My life these days is a far cry from what it used to be. A few years ago, if you had asked me who I was I would have immediately recognized myself as an endurance athlete, but now I no longer consider myself one which is at times odd considering I somewhat branded myself as a triathlete by tattooing it on my arm. I no longer train or follow a weekly regimented plan. There are no future races on my calendar to obsess over, and honestly, I am barely practicing yoga on my own except when I am teaching.
Yet, I am the happiest I have ever been in my body.
When I reflect back on my time as an athlete, I realize now I was striving for deep perfection in body image. I started racing because I was running from deep hurt in my life, and so I identified myself through training and the way I was disciplining my body. My time on the road, in the pool, or in the gym became the spaces in my day where I could escape from life, and at times God. I found myself so ingrained in training for perfection, that I misconstrued the idea of healthy living. Though my body was probably in it’s best shape physically because I was pushing it so hard, I was never truly happy--with life or with my body image. I always needed a little more definition, more shapely abs, and less curve in my hips.
Now, as I practice yoga for healing and the sheer joy it brings to my soul by being able to connect with my Creator on my mat, I am starting to view my body in a different light. Though my legs are not lean and taut, and my abdominals are not defined, God has opened my eyes to what my body has been designed for. The way He has created us as women, our bodies are meant to go through changes, and mine, in all of it’s curves, is preparing, eventually, to house a tiny human and give life. Though my journey to the splits has not advanced over the last two months, and even in my realization that I physically may never be able to move my body into this pose because of how I am structured, my striving for this pose does not run my life. As I advance in my forearm stand, I see how God is helping me to let go of my deep-seeded distaste for my curves allowing me to freely shift my world upside down. I am letting go and learning to fly.
I am no longer practicing yoga to escape from something.
I am practicing yoga to find the woman God has created me to be. Every curvy piece of her.
If you are working on your heart space, hang out here. If you are working into your hips and lower body, head on over to see what Caitlin has for you this month!
I'm so thankful that winter is over so I can get outside and cartwheel around in the sunshine. So I can #stopdropandyoga any and everywhere. It's not the easiest to kick up into handstand or hold crow pose when you've got a big ol' jacket on, boots, mittens and a hat. I'm in dire need of some dirty bare feet.
This month for me has consisted of a lot of non-yoga exercises to open my heart space.
Christina Mroz has published several great posts about opening the shoulders and realigning your posture. Please oh please head over and view her video on opening shoulders. If you don't have a bolster yet then go and get one. They are amazing and can be used to release basically any part of your body.
I've been doing this one almost daily and just love it.
Another part of my problem is my neck. Chad Walding and his wife have created a program called Sitting Solution, and their website is chock-full of wonderful resources. This exercise has been a good one for me to strengthen the muscles in the back of my neck. Along with this I have been very aware of the placement of my head during my practice. So instead of hanging my head in plank/bear/chair/up-dog, I've been intentionally drawing up and back and engaging those muscles along the backside of my neck.
Sometimes it's a matter of adding a variation or another whole pose to your practice in order to move into greater openness and sometimes it's a matter of doing things off of your mat in order to create more freedom on it. Please take a few minutes and check out these resources, and see what else you can be doing off of your mat to increase openness in your heart space. Our dysfunction is still our dysfunction whether we are on our mats or not. Becoming more aware of that can be the key to greater success and fruit for your labor.
Thanks for being patient this month. March is halfway over, so I will see you in about two weeks!
Peace, dear ones.