This post is by Jen Shultz.
That one word has made me feel like a failure more times in the last decade than I can count. That goal- the one of moving my body- has been a place of great frustration. I hit a good stride and make actual progress. Then, life gets in the way. It is no secret that I am physically broken. I am the bearer of a genetic disorder that has spent the last 17 years in “full send” mode and tried to take me out in increasingly creative ways. With the pandemic, 2020 also brought me a cancer diagnosis. On top of my regular health battles, I faced chemotherapy medications, surgeries, and radiation.
IT WAS A LOT, but you don’t have to be chronically ill or battling cancer to get something out of reading this, friends. The things the enemy throws like boulders into our path can and do look very different for each of us. What stays consistent is our need to find ways around them- be they illness, busy schedules with work or with kids (or both), crazy weather, or a laundry list of other distractions. Our common denominator is our need to take good care of ourselves so we have enough to give when God calls on us to serve. That is the root of this “move”, isn’t it… that we are able to use this body He loaned us in a way that serves Him?
For the last year, I had to prioritize myself, specifically my physical body. I’m not great about prioritizing my needs. As a mom of 4, you get used to sacrifice, even when that sacrifice isn’t needed as often now that the kids are all adults and quasi-adults. It is a mindset- that everyone else gets what I had to give first. I got what was left. The women in my family are like that. It was what I believed life should look like- even when I was waging a mighty battle with this “loaner” of a body.
I back-burnered my own health to make sure I was there for my family. It legitimately almost killed me multiple times AND I STILL DID IT. Cancer changed that. The timing of my cancer being at this point in my life and not ten years ago when I was in the trenches of motherhood, gave me a true look at my lack of care for my physical self. It was an important “ah-ha moment” because there is an absolute connection between the body, mind, and spirit. If I didn’t reevaluate my notion that taking care of my physical self was selfish, I wouldn’t be here to make that realization or to see my kids grow into amazing adults.
I needed to use what little energy I had to continue to build physical strength. I needed to honor what my body could do and what it had done. I needed to do the resting, do the physical therapy, and to drink the water. I needed to prioritize all appointments, do all infusions on time, to take all the meds, and incur all the costs. I had to prioritize my body’s health. I had to learn to love the skin I am in. Once I began doing that, God used that journey as a ministry. He continues using it now as I walk this path.
Our bodies have carried life, waged a mighty battle, contended with the wear and tear of year after year. Those things leave a mark. Instead of looking at my body as less than it was, I remind myself that I have warrior blood coursing through my veins and that I am now so much more than the scars, the wrinkles, and the softer places. Taking care of your body is not selfish, it is a form of servanthood. I am a survivor. I am a servant. So are you, shiny souls. So are you.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24
Jen is a small town, Oklahoma girl married to a superhero. Together, they are raising a family on second chances, shiplap, and a shoestring. She is a firm believer in grace, organization, and efficiency. She finds great satisfaction in taking broken items and giving them new life, likely because that is exactly what God did for her. She over uses the word shine, exclamation points, and emojis. She cheers too loud in the stands of her kids’ activities and hugs more than is socially acceptable. A natural born encourager and armchair warrior, she is learning to redefine her mission field and make the most of each day she is given. She has recently been promoted from breast cancer warrior to breast cancer survivor. She’s chronically ill and chronically positive- not necessarily in that order. She is learning to practice perseverance over perfection and longs for the day she gets to see her grandparents and Jesus’ face. Until then, she is just looking for Grace in the Grind.
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