It took me a long time before I realized God wants me to be a tree...
I was a Kindergartener with a unique ambition to grow up and become a fitness instructor. I wanted to make the fitness movies just like Jane Fonda did. I had my mom buy me a sports bra and spandex shorts and I practiced in my room. When I became old enough to certify, I did. I had an incredible mentor-friend who largely paved the way for me to become a great instructor. I took every certification I could and I worked sometimes for hours to make each class special for my participants. I felt like I had made it. Like I had found my calling in life. I truly thought God had given me the exact talents I had so I could inspire others to love exercise as much as I did. I couldn't believe I was lucky enough to find a job I both excelled at and felt passionate about.
My chronic joint pain started about 3 years into my teaching career. Just as I was making plans to become a national fitness presenter, my knees started to hurt. I knew it something serious. Sometimes you just know. I continued to teach, but less often, through the years. My pains spread from my knees to my hips, then ankles and feet. Ten years later, I don't have a joint without pain. Throughout those years, I quit teaching high impact classes and taught less and less often. This year I quit altogether and it was the hardest thing I've ever had to walk away from. I felt like I was leaving myself. Leaving my second home.
At first I really couldn't understand why God gave me everything to accomplish this goal and why I thought it was such a big part of my place here on earth, only to have it ripped out unexpectedly from me. I struggled to understand for many years at the beginning and I yearned to change my reality throughout. I still don't understand everything but a few years ago I was blessed to receive some answers in a unique way.
I was lying in bed, in that in-between state of almost-asleep, and I dreamt of a log being sawed through a lumber mill. It lasted only a second and woke me straight up. Something whispered inside my mind that this dream was sent from above and had a special meaning for me. I couldn't reason what it was that night and went to sleep, hoping I would understand it in time.
Luckily, my impatient self didn't have to wait long. The next morning I was lying on the gym floor in quiet dark, at the end of my yoga class, in meditation. I think sometimes God just needs us to stop long enough to listen for answers and that day I just happened to be ready to hear.
You want to cut yourself down for lumber. But I need you to be a tree.
I love to learn through symbols and the meaning flooded into my mind in an instant. I wanted to devote a large part of my life to fitness but according to my revelation, I would be cutting myself down for lumber. What is wrong with lumber?
Lumber can not grow. It's purpose is specific, limited, and short-lived.
Okay, so what's so special about a tree?
It continues to grow, it's purposes are infinite and it's potential broadens everyday.
It was a hard truth to hear, but I was filled with comfort and love and finally some understanding of why I had to live through this trial. I know that God has other purposes for my life. Purposes that could not be accomplished if I had remained so focused on attaining my fitness goals. God knows me so well and He knew how much time and energy would have been spent at my career if I had been healthy enough to continue down that path.
I wish I could say I've discovered my new purpose in life but I'm just starting to learn. However, I'm standing firmly rooted in Christ, growing stronger through my trials just like a tree in the wind. I still mourn for my old life in weak moments and have actually said out loud, "What if I just want to be a table?" But I am stronger more often and can feel the excitement of wondering where God will take me and what kind of fruit I will one day yield because I didn't cut myself down. I have an idea of what I would like my life to look like but I have learned that His view is infinitely broader and if I nourish my roots in His soil, I will continue to grow upward, toward joy, eternity, and full potential.