Every now and again, do you notice something new about yourself? Something you didn't notice before? You're going on about your merry way, and then suddenly you realize, "Oh! I didn't know I had this habit!" Or, "I didn't know I did that!" Or, "I wonder if anyone else has noticed this..." Some of these moments are big realizations, utterly life-altering. Others are small and still. But I think a lot of those things are worth heeding, especially if they give us a glimpse into our hearts. I had one of those moments recently. It was one of the smaller kind. Are you ready for this?
I noticed that I tuck my elbows close to my sides.
Shocking, I know. Life-altering. The world halted on its axis a little bit.
I don't remember how I noticed it. Maybe I was driving. Maybe I was in class. Maybe I was at my desk here at home. I can't remember: all I know is that I noticed that I keep my elbows close to my sides.
When you notice something like that, you naturally try it the other way, in order to see what's so different about the way you do it. So when I tried holding my elbows a few inches away from my body, I noticed that this other way felt a lot more natural. By contrast, when I tuck my elbows in, I feel a lot more tense.
This indicated something to me. I learned something about myself: When there is tension in my heart -- when I am striving or when I am not at rest -- I tuck in my elbows. My shoulders also lift a few inches closer to my ears. It's a sign, a physical symptom of a much greater thing. It's the tip of an iceberg.
These symptoms begin to show themselves when I start to feel controlling. I lift my shoulders when I begin to work. I tuck my elbows in when I'm trying to measure up. When I sense that I am not enough, I tuck my elbows into my body, a little below my waist. It's a defense mechanism, a kind of way of making myself smaller so that maybe, just maybe, I'll avoid the criticism I feel is coming.
When I manage to unstick my elbows from my sides, my shoulders naturally lower, and my body calms down a little bit. Forcing my body to sit naturally has a calming physical effect on me. I can feel my heart beat a little slower. My mind clears. It's as if I have an entirely new perspective.
And then, Jesus.
Of course, He's the One that gently pointed out to me that my elbows were tucked in. He tenderly looses them from their stuck place and massages my shoulders so that I relax. And once He's done that -- once my mind is turned to Him -- He reminds me that I am safe.
I'm not enough. But He has been that for me. He was enough in the way I could never be, and in my mess He rescued me. Now I hide myself behind Him, not by tucking my elbows into my body. Because of Him, I don't have to make myself smaller. I can stand simply forth. And whether stones fly at me or not, I am safe. I can spread my arms wide and sing His grace and freedom.
And so can you.
Dare to relax. He is your safety, your refuge, your deliverer. He is greater than anything anyone could hurl at you, be it insults, silent disapproval, or death. Besides, aren't a lot of our disapproval-fears made up, anyway?
Relaxing doesn't seem brave, but it is.
Calming down doesn't seem courageous. But when you feel the sting of disapproval or enmity (real or imagined), choosing not to assume the defense position (the fetal position?) -- choosing to be vulnerable -- is the bravest thing you could do. It's so simple, and you feel so small. But not trying to do Jesus' job for him, not trying to defend yourself? That's an act of faith, my friends.
And faith takes courage.
Allow Jesus to come and rescue you. Relax into the freedom that He gives. Be a little brave, and unstick your elbows from your sides.