My spine doesn't look like a normal spine. It has a unique shape, one that most closely resembles a constipated snake. It isn't straight. It curves the wrong direction at the neck. And it contains a vertebra in the tailbone region that sits at a diagonal. In short, it's a mess. Several years ago, I was seeing a chiropractor on a regular basis, which helped with both the misalignment and the constant pull and strain on my muscles. Unfortunately, I can no longer afford such treatments, so I do the best I can to keep my spine aligned.
Well, actually that's not true. I try to do the best I can, but often there's a lot more try than there is anything else. Some days, I feel downright lazy, and I don't want to take the effort to do the required stretches and exercises to keep things in shape. This past winter was really bad for some reason, and I found myself growing very stationary. Unfortunately, I didn't notice just how bad I had allowed things to get until I started back into my walking routine.
The first week of walking, I concentrated on getting my muscles to loosen up. That was a chore in and of itself. The second week, I started focusing on posture. Head up, shoulders back, pelvis tucked under. I immediately felt taller. I could breathe better, and for the moment, my muscles actually felt more relaxed. But after about half a mile of walking, I began to realize just how lazy my muscles had grown. Because I had been using such poor posture for so long, the muscles that should have been working daily hadn't been used in a while. . . and they didn't like being used now!
The places where I normally feel stretching and tightness while walking weren't hurting at all, but I had new places that were aching like crazy. My core muscles were on fire. The muscles at the very top of my thighs twinged with every step. My poor little bottom was burning on its outer edges. My lat muscles pulled and reminded me that they were in use. By standing straight and tall, I was engaging muscles that had been relatively dormant for who knows how long. And while it still causes me some discomfort each time I walk, I'm striving more and more to pay attention to my posture. One, because it will help with my spinal alignment and reduce real pain in my body. Two, I don't want those muscles to get lazy again because I don't want to have to train them again. It smarts!
The first day I realized my discomfort, I thought, Who knew that standing tall could hurt so much? On the heels of that thought came my favorite Bible verse: These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33) Who knew standing tall could hurt so much? Well, God did. And Joseph. And David. And Paul. And on and on I could go. Jesus said we would have tribulation. He told the disciples that those who stood for him would suffer persecution. He made it plain that those who name the name of Christ would be despised and rejected in this world. And sometimes that hurts. It's uncomfortable, and we find ourselves wondering if it's really worth it. I can answer that.
Since the two weeks of "posture watching," my chronic headaches have reduced in both number and severity. My knee pain has almost vanished. My back and shoulder pain has been reduced to a light twinge or ache. The swelling and inflammation in my body have gone down. My energy level has gone up. While the "new muscles" are still resisting the new requirements, the rest of my body is enjoying the benefits. And before long, those "new muscles" won't be new anymore. They'll be used to the routine. They'll be stronger and more able to help me stand tall.
The same is true in our spiritual walk. Yes, it may cost a little, but the benefits are more than worth it. And some day soon, even those "new muscles" won't bother us anymore, for we'll be in Heaven for all eternity. And there are no sore muscles in Heaven. . . not even spiritual ones!
For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. - II Corinthians 4:16-18