One of the first things he did after our introductions were over was to have me sit down on this hard, cylindrical foam roller. He explained that we needed to loosen up my IT band (long, skinny, important band of tissue running along the side of each leg from hip to knee) and demonstrated how to lay on the roller on the IT band, rolling up and down the band slowly.
"You need to find the most tender place, the place where it hurts the most, and concentrate on that spot. Let all your weight rest on this place and roll it out. You've got two minutes on each side," he said looking at his watch. "Go."
I started rolling, thinking, this isn't too bad, until I hit "the spot." Right between my hip and knee. I felt the pain shooting through my whole leg, burning, stabbing. He looked at me as I winced, "You can cry if you need to. It hurts. Do whatever it takes, but trust me, this needs to happen." I refused to cry, but I did let a word slip out that I won't mention here. I'm not perfect.
He strongly urged me to buy my own foam roller (masochistic thing that it is) and do this regularly. "Do this every day for the next week and your IT band should start feeling loose after that."
Really, every day? Sigh. Fine, every day it is. I forced a smile.
And today, well, let's just say I've been grabbing onto things and wincing as I've slowly lowered myself into a crouch, which I do often in my job. My legs are not happy with me, particularly not my IT bands. But I think I need to stick with it, because if I don't, they won't get any better from here. So I'm taking myself to the gym tonight to roll for two minutes on each of those bands.
Sometimes life is like that, too, huh? Like that foam roller on our tender, tight issues (I'm not really talking directly about things like grief or loss or injustices, because that would be cruel, but perhaps some indirect issues that may slowly arise in us from grief or loss or some form of injustice). Things like unforgiveness, distrust, bitterness, unresolved anger, insecurity, fear, victimization, entitlement, need for control, etc. Maybe at times God feels a bit like that personal trainer, coaching us to hang tight in the places of intense pain. Because He knows His stuff. He knows those tight areas need to be loosened, that this will help us heal and develop strength and flexibility in life, so we can run and jump and play.
And unfortunately, at times the only way to do that is through the pain, consistency and discipline. But usually, thankfully, in (relatively) short intervals of intensity. The period of loosening up those tight places may stretch over a week or a month or a year or a decade, but eventually, there is relief. Eventually those places don't hurt as much as they once did, we can even bear all our weight on them for long periods of time and not wince.
And then... we're back to running again. It will be worth it not to turn back.