I used to push myself to do free weights 6 days a week. I worked as many hours as I could until the back pain got too intense, and then I would ask for a reduction in my hours. My motivation? Fear of my uncertain future. The thoughts of weaker muscles and of not having enough money to go out to eat when I wanted, or to purchase yarn and fabric terrified me. I wanted to have as much money as possible in the bank and in Social Security before my physical condition deteriorated to the point that I could not work. I prayed that I would not get worse so that I could work until I was ready to retire.
When I was told by a doctor to stop exercising, it took me months to accept it and stop. I was so frightened by the prospect of losing what little strength I had, that it was not until I pulled a muscle in my back that I stopped. Then I was still motivated by fear – the fear that I would do it again and have to take time without pay until I healed.
You would think I would have learned my lesson, but I did not. When the doctor told me I needed a wheelchair, it took me 3 months and another episode of spastic back muscles to convince me that she was right.
So here I am 11 years later, on disability, having retired at age 53. I have everything I need, with more than enough money for dining out and purchasing craft supplies. Looking back I see that I finally learned the most important lesson in my life. To accept that there is uncertainty in life, and have faith that all will be well. I have finally learned that if I focus on the here and now, and not on what may or may not happen in the future, I can relax, knowing that nothing is lacking in the present moment.
Recently, after a conversation with one of my oldest and dearest friends, I realized that my prayer had changed. I no longer ask that my physical condition improve or at the very least, not deteriorate. I ask that whatever happens, I accept it and trust that I will be able to handle it, and most important, that I accept what comes my way without resisting in fear.