This marks my third week of going to physical therapy, three weeks of therapy after more than three months of waking up every morning with severe upper back pain. I’ve always known that I have terrible posture, and sitting at my desk for hours at a time, leaning over my computer, certainly doesn’t help. However, I was shocked when I learned that months of pain was due to the deterioration of my trapezius and pectoral muscles because of my bad posture. Who would have thought that poor posture would actually lead to a reduction in the rotation of my shoulder? Alas, that was the diagnosis, and the doctor said it needed to be fixed now before it was too late. However, fixing the problem is somedays more painful than the original aching back muscles, and I know it’s imperative to keep working on it, but sometimes, I just want to give up.
And isn’t that how we often feel about the things that are hard, things that cause pain, things that make us wish there was a magic spell to make everything okay?
Why do I have to do these exercises? Why do I have to cause my body even more discomfort? Why do I have to take time from my busy day to spend an hour making my body ache even more than it already does as it rebels against this change?
We all know the old adage, “no pain, no gain.” While we know that it’s the truth, it’s hard to force ourselves to believe that the painful thing we are doing, the tough decision we need to make, the unwanted change that we know is right, is worth the hurt, the worry, the heartache. Sometimes, we have to do things we really don’t want to do. We may have to leave our comfort zone, our family, our home, our friends, our school, or even just our favorite chair or our bed.
I feel like I’m starting over again with learning how to walk, sit, drive, and do all of the normal physical daily activities I’ve been doing for almost fifty years. And it’s hard! And frustrating, and irritating, and yes, painful. Sometimes, when I’m doing my physical therapy, I just want to cry or quit or yell, “I’m not going to do this anymore!” And I have to remind myself that there are times in life when we just have to push ourselves. We have to make ourselves do the hard work, go the extra mile, or just change course. When I’m ready to give up or turn back, I have to take a deep breath, close my eyes, and tell myself that I can do this. I can move forward.
When I went away to college, I went with such high hopes and big dreams. My parents didn’t go to college. My grandparents didn’t go to college. It was a big, big deal, and I embraced it with enthusiasm. I applied to one college (because that’s what we did back then), and I prayed that I would get in. And I did. With a full scholarship. Off I went, hugging mom and dad goodbye, lugging my big blue chest full of clothes and my backpack of ridiculously priced books. And I hated it. It was not the place for me. I couldn’t figure out where I fit in, who my real friends were, or what activities were right for me. The longer the year went on, the more I knew that I needed to change. Telling my parents was hard. Giving up that scholarship was even harder. Finding a new school, transferring, making new friends, joining new clubs, and finding a new place to live, were really, really difficult. But just like my therapy, I knew I had to do what was best for me.
When my children were young, they were in a school where they were not thriving. One was being bullied and seemed to be wasting her potential. Another was slowly losing her self-confidence due to harassment from a group of boys in the class. Our youngest was just starting out, and we worried that the situation in the school was only going to get worse. I had always wanted the girls at the local Catholic school, but we just couldn’t afford it. After much prayer, a sign from God told us that it was time to make the change. Our two youngest were enthusiastic about the change. Our oldest, not so much. She had friends and a level of comfort that she wasn’t willing to give up despite the bullying and the fear and the reality that she was being stifled in that environment. But she let her sisters’ excitement persuade her to give it a try, and she visited the school with trepidation. After that visit, she never went back to her old school again. She immediately transferred, found new friends, made a new home, and began a meteoric rise that is still ascending, taking her to new heights among the stars. It all started with resistance that acquiesced into a small step and morphed into a giant leap. And she never looked back.
At some point, we all have to change course, break our bad habits, learn to sit a little straighter, walk a little taller, push back our shoulders, and hold our heads high, trusting in God that He will never lead us astray. And we will be amazed at the heights we will reach.
The second book in Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Promise, is now available in stores and online.
Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her latest children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now available; and her novel, Summer’s Squall, can be found online and in stores.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018).