I love going to my Wednesday night BodyFlow class. It’s a perfect blend of Tai Chi, yoga and Pilates that’s a good mid-week lift for the body, mind and spirit. I look forward to it each week, and feel “off” when I can’t attend.
That said, I’m not very good at Body Flow… And it really bothers me. Generally I don’t enjoy doing things that I’m not good at. And I usually stop doing them.
So no, I don’t keep going to Body Flow because I’m good at it. I don’t even go because of the awesome music and the fantastic instructor. I love BodyFlow because it forces me to focus on my breath and my strength. To, if for at least one hour during the day, be still. To set aside every bit of stress, frustration and worry that consumes my thoughts every other moment of the day. And do you know what is undeniably loud in those moments when I’m uncharacteristically still? The voice of the Lord.
One of my favorite parts of BodyFlow is a section called Standing Strength. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Standing poses that require and work your strength. Most often these are the Warrior poses. And I love them. They make me feel strong. Steady. Powerful. Unshaken. And if I hold these poses long enough, they make me feel like my legs are about to give out under me. I’m into that. I love feeling the weakness and shakiness under me but somehow finding the unwavering strength in my heart and mind to hold that pose just a bit longer… And maybe even sink in a little deeper.
And every now and then we get to do a pose called Joyous Warrior. It looks a little something like this. Legs anchored (in my case, shaking), but instead of a steady, focused gaze in front of you, your eyes and heart open up to the Heavens. I love this small change. To me it feels like opening my heart up to what the Lord has for me. Receiving joy, energy and endurance from Him and reflecting back gratefulness, praise and wonder. A beautiful give and take with the Holy Spirit. It reminds me of my posture during worship… arms outstretched, heart abandoned, feet grounded and spirit soaring above the room. The Lord’s presence is so strong to me when I move my body… and I think that’s pretty beautiful.
So back to BodyFlow. One particular Wednesday, as we moved into this Joyous Warrior pose, and I began to feel all of the feels, the Lord’s voice smacked me. He told me that while I’ve always loved this warrior idea, I’ve never embraced the purpose and necessity of being a warrior.
Gently, He showed me that warriors aren’t created for the easy seasons of life. Warriors don’t sit quietly in the back of the room. Warriors aren’t kept in pretty packages wrapped with a bow.
No, warriors are gritty. Warriors are made for battle. Warriors are strong and grounded, full of courage and valor. Warriors are created for when the going gets tough. When every day feels like a battle. When war is raging within yourself, your home, your community. Warriors are created for the trenches.
I want to be a warrior, a true warrior. I don’t want to back down when I’m pushed against a wall. I don’t want to give up when life doesn’t seem fair. I don’t want to crumble under the weight of my fear.
And if I’m going to be a warrior, I want to be a joyful one. Finding joy in the thick of it, when you’re forced into “warrior mode” isn’t easy. It isn’t natural. Being thankful and joyful and content amidst horrible circumstances, crippling doubt and insurmountable fear seems counterintuitive. But friends, it’s the Gospel. It’s David fleeing Saul. It’s Paul in chains. It’s Jesus making the ultimate sacrifice.
True joy is knowing and being known by God. And that fact remains when everything else is in chaos. When life doesn’t turn out how we planned. When it hurts to keep breathing.
Being a joyous warrior means fighting like hell to make it through the day, battling the enemy’s advances, but keeping your joy because you know who holds you.
I don’t feel like a warrior most days. Especially recently, dealing with the “big I word.” Most days, I feel like I’m one pregnant woman in the skyway away from a meltdown.
But I’m striving towards warrior-status. So I’ll keep stumbling through Body Flow, seeking joy and gaining strength. And little by little, I know our Good Father will simultaneously prepare me for battle and make me more grateful for every painful breath.