A local massage therapist offered a special to our faculty and I jumped at the chance for a discounted session. There’s something about laying on the massage table that not only loosens my muscles, but my mind as well. I do some of my best thinking on those heated beds.
At the start of the session, the therapist said that she “uses a lot of movement” in her work and asked if that was okay. This wasn’t my first massage rodeo (wouldn’t that be a hilarious sight?) and I told her I tend to trust the therapists because they know their strengths. Besides, I’ve had therapists move my legs and arms before to stretch them or shake them out a bit.
This therapist, however, employs a range of motion I had yet to see, or feel, before. In turn, she took my legs and arms and gave them a good shake down, letting every wiggly bit rattle and roll with the swaying of each appendage. Vanity left me years ago when nursing babies in public became a regular part of my life, so I wasn’t embarrassed by the jiggling, merely amused. Thankfully, she was much too focused on the task at hand to find amusement at my wobbly bits.
As I lay there, prone and vulnerable to a stranger’s prodding and shaking, God beckoned me to pay attention.
“Ain’t that just like God?” I thought, “Just like her to teach me a lesson even in this.”
So much of my faith journey has been exactly like my experience on that massage table. At its core, discipleship is about submission to God. As I tried to stay completely relaxed so my limbs would move according to the therapist’s desires, I thought of the times when I have relaxed fully into God’s arms and others when I tensed up and refused to budge. When I trusted God’s movements, I might have been uncomfortable at moments but the rewards were great as the events seems to tumble naturally into place. When I tightened up and dug in my heels, God kept working but with great frustration and I found myself in worse shape than when I started.
Relaxing into the will of the Holy Spirit guarantees the stressed places of my life will be poked and prodded until they loosen up. Similarly, parts of me will be stretched that I long thought had grown too rigid, even for the most nimble of hands. Discomfort is a natural but passing part of the process and leads to deeper release and fuller ease with myself.
But it takes trust, often in someone who feels like a stranger. God is an enigma at best. She is wily and too grand for any one set of eyes or even one world to fully comprehend. She reminds me of times I’ve trusted her in the past and I remind her how I may still have the scars to prove it. And, yet, she persists in beckoning, never giving up on me. She asks me to relax again and trust her pushing and pulling, promising that the results of the experience will be worth the risk. I tell her I don’t like transitions or uncertainty. Even though I’m becoming more practiced at it, that doesn’t mean I like vulnerability and submission any more than I did on day one.
She tells me she knows; she made me, after all. And she encourages me, asks me to have patience, and lays me down. I start to wonder where this is going and why God is asking my body and soul to move in certain ways. But I take Job as my inspiration, committing myself not to patience but to being steadfast and faithful. Discomfort and pain may be part of the process, but at its end, it will bring deeper understanding. It’s guaranteed not to bring all the answers and maybe not even half. It will, however, bring a fuller faith and closeness of God I had not hoped to relax into before.