It’s not about the body part that’s moving; it’s the body that’s STILL that we are strengthening.
As 2015 drew to an end, I found myself reflecting on the past year and dreaming of all that could fill the next. As a firm believer in to-do lists, I quickly began creating a list of personal resolutions, and a checklist of life goals to meet in the coming year. The list grew, and as it did, so did my anxiety. With an extensive list of personal fitness, health, financial, and relational goals, I immediately became overwhelmed. Many of the items on my list were highly dependent on a schedule, on stability, on factors that happen in life around me, and that, at this point in time, are largely outside of my control. My husband and I are both chasing dreams professionally, and while this provides a great amount of excitement and energy in our lives, it brings little stability. In fact, his job could move us nearly anywhere in the country, at any point in time. With movement, comes change in income, in routine, in travel necessities, and in days (or no days) off. These changes happen around me, and impact my life directly; yet, they are very much outside of my control.
And so I started questioning whether I could fulfill the list of dreams I wrote, whether I could stick to my long list of resolutions. I didn’t want to look back at 2016 as a failure. The New Year hadn’t even begun and I was already nervous about the possibility of not being able to check off every box on my list in the next 366 days (yes, it’s leap year- so I’d even have an extra day to do it all). Cue Stress.
I joined the gym in the last week of 2015 (perhaps as an early resolution, or maybe just so that I could not use the “failed resolution” excuse as a way to quit a month later ;) ). And so I found myself in a Pilates class. After contorting my body in ways that worked muscles I did not know I had, we found ourselves lying on our backs on the mat. I was thrilled- this I can do. The instructor proceeded to spend quite some time ensuring that our shoulders were properly placed under us, and that our core and legs were engaged while we lay flat on the mat. We were then instructed to “draw circles on the ceiling” with our left leg. Of course, I assumed this was working my left leg, which was flailing around in the air in the general shape of a circle, when the instructor said, “make sure your core is engaged, this is not about the body part that’s moving, it’s the body that’s still that we are strengthening.”
And it hit me. Life is chaotic- at times it feels like it is flailing around in the general shape of a circle, or a tornado. Yet in the midst of this chaos, there is an immense strength if you can only be still and engage your “core.” If I have learned anything in the past 10 years of my life, it is that little that happens in life around me, is in my control. Sometimes there is beauty in the chaos, and other times, the chaos brings brokenness: broken dreams, broken relationships, broken ideals. But what my Pilates instructor knew, is that if your core is properly engaged; there is strength in the stillness. We are not meant to run from the chaos, but rather to meet the chaos with a still force that we only find when our soul’s core is engaged. While the chaos may surround us, we do not become a part of it.
So this year, I am throwing out my long list of New Year’s resolutions and working to develop this still strength. I don’t need another to-do list in my personal life.
What I do need, is to simply “engage my soul’s core”- to do what I know is right: to be kind, to be giving, to make healthy choices, to live in and to seek beauty, to seek God; and as the world spins, to stand in the strength of a peaceful stillness, knowing that there is a Creator far wiser than I who works all things for His glory.
I want to stop and breathe and think and write and walk and dream whether life around me is sunny skies or torrential rain. I want to be strong enough to stand still; to engage the chaos with an unwavering strength. For when my soul is engaged, I am able to stand still, and the chaos cannot move me.
Here’s to 2016. Here’s to strength in the stillness and peace in the midst of chaos.
Thanks for reading along. Stay sweet.