What can I say. I got my dad’s back DNA.
A former weight lifter and bodybuilder, my dad’s back first started to go out when he was in his late 20’s.
Ever since (he is 76 now), Dad has continued to experience random bouts of excruciating back pain.
And I am my father’s daughter. Apparently.
At 45 now, I can look back over approximately 20 years of surprise back spasms that have led to many unproductive and grumpy hours lying on the couch with ice packs and heating pads.
It can be scary – having your back go out on you. For me, it has often felt very depressing too, because there is a lot in life I miss out on when I’m spending my days sequestered indoors (while pondering whether a cane or a walking stick is a more fashionable choice to pair with my retro wardrobe).
But occasionally good stuff, like aha moments, come out of those healing times.
When my back went out again about a month ago, it was the worst pain I’d ever felt to date. I was woken up in the middle of the night by two sharp lower back spasms, and suddenly I couldn’t move my legs. I was somehow prepared for the emotional hit that comes with suddenly having my mobility restricted after seeing my father go through this from time to time.
Over the next few days, I had to move around with the help of a folding electric wheelchair and spent most of the time on self-administering a variety of painkillers and then napping them off, I did my best to stay productive by meditating a lot.
In particular, I tried to focus my meditations on the intersection of the weak body and the strong spirit. My meditation teacher has often remarked that “when the body is weak the spirit becomes very strong.”
But I’ve never been able to experience that in past moments of injury or illness, on account of how painfully disruptive and thus distracting whatever the injury/illness of the day happened to be.
This time, I was determined to at least try to detect if my spirit was stronger than normal.
One day a few days into my healing process, I woke up with a spasming lower back yet again…and a startlingly bad attitude to match. So I started trying to focus my mind to meditate and pray.
Praying to “have faith” felt insincere, since the only thing I was intending to pray for was a laundry list of the things I wanted, like spontaneous healing and an equally spontaneous source of my lost income. Oh, and no more back pain – ever.
In other words, my “Year of Having Faith” all of a sudden started to look like a total waste of time. Already 5 months into my journey, it appeared I had learned nothing, nada, zip, about faith, myself, or me having faith.
At that dejected, irritable, frustrated and impatient moment, suddenly the thought popped up….
“What if faith isn’t a thing at all. What if it is a relationship?“
What if, instead of being a thing you ask to have more or less of, or a thing you either feel or don’t feel, what if having faith is just a relationship? I’m not even sure what that relationship is between – perhaps my physical, concrete, “here on Earth” self and my higher, spirit self?
Or maybe it is a relationship I have with my own life, one that defaults towards expecting beneficial rather than detrimental experiences .
All I know right now is that viewing and experiencing faith as a relationship makes more sense than anything else I’ve tried. Because in a relationship, I can only control and be responsible for my part (or what my mentor might call “my side of the street.”)
In a relationship, my view of its value and meaningfulness can absolutely transform how that relationship will affect me and my life.
In a relationship, love can exist even if like does not. And in a relationship, even separation or taking breaks can sometimes make it that much stronger.
Finally, in a relationship, it is all a choice. There is the choice to be in it or not be in it. There is the choice to deepen it or make less effort. There is a choice on every level, which to me is both the most intriguing and the most believable part of this theory.
Today’s Takeaway: How do you interact with faith in your life? Do you feel like you have faith and if so, what makes you think so? Do you ever think about faith as a relationship you freely enter into and can leave at any time?
P.S. When I emailed my mentor to ask her for her thoughts about the possible validity of my aha moment, this is what I got back (aren’t her words beautiful!!). It would seem that, just perhaps, I finally just got the teensiest glimpse of what she’s been telling me about all these years!
I laughed out loud – not at all AT you, but because you have discovered the secret. Yes, yes, yes, it’s all about relationship. It’s a full circle, and it’s a circle that increases itself in trust and just being. If I trust that God is good, and I do my best to be available to the relationship, since the relationship is all that counts on the eternal plane and I can sometimes feel an energy or presence that does not feel part of me, but I can be part of it, well, what are the worries of today but little grains of sand. They come. They go. The relationship remains – eternally. That is exactly what I meant when I used to say all the time, “the tide goes out, the tide comes in, but the ocean is always the same.” To me, that is God. Sometimes my feet are covered as it rushes in. Sometimes I have to walk out from the shore for miles before I can stick a toe in, but I still know that it’s there. It’s always there. What a glorious thing. Lots of love….Lynnie