Today’s post is from one incredibly special woman who I have not only the privilege of calling my role model, mentor, and friend, but also “Mom”. Meet my Mom, Linda Cummins, and discover some amazing truths of how to discover balance in the midst of imbalance…
It’s December 2014 & not only is this one of my favorite times of the year, but I just ran my second marathon. I felt great—my time was better than my previous race & now I could prepare for Christmas. Both of my daughters will be home and the house will be decorated & filled with the warmth of the tree lights and the smells of all of our favorite cookies, candies, chex mixes and homemade hot cocoa. I love everything about Christmas—the lights, the music, the many family memories & traditions etched in my mind. All is well in the world & our family will all together—Mark, Emily & Katie, affectionately called Team Cummins, will all be under one roof. Life is good.
But then the day comes when the girls fly back to the West Coast & I am left to pack everything away & look at this New Year before me, wondering what it will hold. So I began to make a plan for the year including projects I want to tackle & how I want to challenge myself physically & mentally. I decided not to run a marathon this year, but to begin practicing cycling & swimming so that I can eventually do a sprint triathlon. Even though it has been hard to have my girls live far away & I’ve been learning how to navigate my new normal with an “empty nest”, I was excited about my plan.
As January moved forward I began feeling pain in my lower back & down the back of my legs. I was in so much excruciating pain that I had a hard time sitting still for very long and I couldn’t even run a half a mile—what is happening? I kept trying to push through it…I mean, no pain, no gain, right? I finally broke down and went to the doctor. An x-ray showed that I had sprained my SI Joint. My spine was ok, but I needed to begin physical therapy for the next few months. I couldn’t do anything except the stretches and very basic exercises the therapist gave me to do. And I’m talking basic. I felt helpless, frustrated, discouraged, depressed & angry. I had no idea what I did to injure myself & I was not a happy woman. I mean, I had just ran a marathon & now I can’t even run a half a mile! I was only able to walk, stretch & go back to basic exercises to strengthen my core and balance.
I was so miserable that I held & attended my very own “pity-party”, carrying around a negative, bad attitude, eating food for comfort & not exercising. Why me? This was going to be my year to focus on strengthening my running base, cycling & learning to swim. This would become a new lifestyle for me to fill some of my time with my girls so far away & challenge myself as a woman.
I found myself unbalanced in every area of my life, not just physically. When life leaves you unbalanced & you lose your focus it can literally knock you off your feet. Any imbalance in our lives will cause us to lose focus, get discouraged, depressed, withdraw & reach for anything or anyone to help us get balanced & on the right track again. James 1 talks about being “double-minded” and unstable in all you do. I felt very unstable and unbalanced in every area of my life. Finally on a desperate day in March I came across this verse in Habakkuk:
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails & the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.” Habakkuk 3:17-19
I love how The Message translation also explains it:
“Though the cherry trees don’t blossom & the strawberries don’t ripen, Though the apples are worm-eaten and the wheat fields stunted Though the sheep pens are sleepless and the cattle barns empty I’m singing joyful praise to God. I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God. Counting on God’s Rule to prevail, I take heart and gain strength. I run like a deer. I feel like I’m king of the mountain!” Habakkuk 3:17-19
What I discovered in this unbalanced season is that we can choose to live with the imbalance, learn to navigate around it, and medicate it, or we can choose to identify it, name it, diagnose it & then make a plan to live a healthy balanced life. This is still my year to work on my base base, foundation & core—it just looks different than how I thought it would look.
I wrote this in my prayer journal after this revelation: Lord, show me in these next few weeks & months what I need to do next. Help me as I walk—to praise you, listening to you as I climb to the top of this mountain & give me patience as I wait to begin running again. Help me fix my eyes & mind on you. When I get discouraged that I am not progressing fast enough & begin to feel sorry for myself & I am craving food for comfort, help me to turn to you in prayer & shift my focus. Give me courage to make whatever changes need to be made in my life emotionally, mentally, physically & spiritually. You are more interested in the attitude of my heart that what I do. What do I need to learn in this season? What do I need to focus my attention on? Yes this is still my year to build a stronger base/foundation/core but not just physically—but emotionally, mentally & spiritually. Each area is important & flows together to help us live a healthy balanced life. Psalm 90:12—God,teach me to live well. To not just count the days but make the days count.
My foundational goal for balance & focus is to live well & love well:
- I want to live a life with no regrets.
- Spending time with God is not an option, it is my solution.
- I do not want to waste my time feeling miserable or filled with bitterness, anger & unforgiveness. I will let it go, give it to God & move on.
- I will let go of the past & move forward.
- I need to love me unconditionally & let God change me supernaturally. Then loving others will flow naturally.
- I will leave negativity behind & move forward.
- I will believe that I am all He says I am.
- I will be thankful.
- I will refuse to make life about me—it’s all about Jesus & letting His love flow through me.
- I will be a better listener, quick to hear & slow to speak.
- I will be present, aware, loving & kind.
When we are faced with an imbalance in our lives of any kind we can choose an upward focus & trust that God has a plan for us, or a downward spiral of self-focus that leads to an imbalanced life filled with discouragement, negativity, depression and so much more.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.” Proverbs 4:23-27
I am not fully recovered and completely where I want to be physically, but what I am discovering is that the journey God has me on personally is so much more than my physical injury and imbalance. Even though the landscape of my life has changed and doesn’t look how I thought it would look, He still has a plan for my life. He loves me & He is teaching me to stay close to Him, keep my eyes fixed on Him, stay focused & run the race that He has marked out for me.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-4