Monthly Archives: October 2017

How I Learned the Painful Way Why I Should Lean Up Straight

I rolled over and felt the stabs of pain right between my shoulder blades. 3:00 A.M. never looked so annoying! I muttered as I tried rolling to the other side.

Nope. I was greeted by a disagreeable sensation in that shoulder as well.

I’ve always tended to carry my stress there, as much as I’ve told myself I’m going to get better at managing it.

Regardless, it was somewhere between grading essay 46 of 200 and battling second grade spelling lists until bedtime that the knots started sneaking in, assuming control.

By the time my alarm went off, I couldn’t move my neck. What on earth have I done to myself?!?!

Alas, I had to humbly acknowledge that, as much as I wanted to carry on with life like everything was fine, I wasn’t, and I couldn’t hide it either. Sometimes, pain is a big enough jerk that we can’t smile through it with enough credibility to satisfy those around us, especially ourselves.

Two days into my awkward neck pain, I recalled the direction I’d chosen to lean for the month of October.

Lean up straight!

Seriously?

How embarrassing, I thought. Here I am trying to be all clever with all of these directions to lean in 2017, and I’ve literally injured myself in the process of failing to follow through this month.

I should probably explain how I came to choose this direction. It was October 1st, and I went out on a Sunday afternoon bike ride to enjoy the beautiful fall day. I was all alone with my thoughts and my 7-speed, pondering which direction I should focus on leaning this month.

“Lean up straight!”

It was a silent voice, but I never doubted that it was a command.

“Got it!” I replied.

I smiled at how easily I heard God on this one.

Some months have been a real stretch to find a new direction to lean, especially now that we are 10 months into this year, but not this time. It was clear, clever, and I mentally knocked out a poem that involved leaning up straight. Too bad I was biking and didn’t take time to write it down.

As I fast forwarded to the infamous moment of realization that I had indeed neglected to actually try  to lean up straight while I was going about living, I felt humbled. Which is probably a good idea when one is leaning up straight.

Leaning up straight with the right heart attitude is crucial; otherwise, it might be misconstrued as arrogance or an attempt at shutting people out when I actually need them.

The truth of the matter is, I need to work much harder at leaning up straight.

I tend to bend down and work harder than I should on things that aren’t nearly as big of a deal as I think they are in the moment.

I tend to pile burdens on my shoulders that belong in the hands of Jesus.

And I tend to let myself get worn down and not nearly as effective a light because I don’t have it in me to stand up tall and shine for those who need a ray of hope.

So much like the end of every other month this year, I find myself admitting that I haven’t even come close to mastering how to lean. I do, however, feel more enlightened on how I need to grow, and that is what this whole “learning to lean” thing is all about.

Lean Beside

Lean beside the ones who ask for help
Just as much as you lean beside the ones who say they’re fine

Lean beside the ones who encourage
As well as the ones who only want to take

Lean beside the ones with whom you agree
As well as the ones with whom you couldn’t disagree more

Lean beside all that you value
So that you can give to all who are willing to receive

Lean beside when you feel like it
And lean a bit harder when you don’t

Lean beside the voice of truth
So that you can speak life to yourself and others

Lean beside the ones who push you
So that you can push yourself

Lean beside the good questions
Especially when they’re not the easy ones

Lean beside the answers
And respond with grace when you don’t want to hear them

Lean beside the sad and hurting
With as much passion that you lean beside the laughter

Leaning beside says more than words can

That we’re in this thing called life together

That I don’t have to know how to fix it

Or even how you feel

But I care enough to be human right along with you

Leaning beside means being brave
It means humanizing when it’s easier not to
That you’re choosing love when hate begs to become a norm
That joining hands can happen with those you least expect

And that there is always, always hope
Because you have someone to lean beside