by Wendy Coy
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
I knew twice-weekly exercises in the warm-almost-hot water would soothe and strengthen my rebelling muscles and joints, but I didn’t expect much more than “good for what ails me.”
Some days no one bothered me, and I counted my repetitions religiously, checking posture, balance, angle and what muscles I used as the water pushed back at me. Today, however, was different.
I wanted to concentrate and finish quickly, and I was none too happy to see a gaggle of other therapy-ites already inhabiting “my” space. Arms extended, backs arched, toes pointed, they seemed to take up half the pool. Yoga-girl stretched and swam long laps in the tiny space; Intent-woman followed her every move, and snorkel-guy practiced breathing and swimming in the miniscule deep end where I needed to work. Celtic-gentleman hugged the edge of the pool, trying to un-kink his back. Loud-dude hung around, lounging expansively and talking with his “outside voice” to no one in particular. Only one older woman seemed to be fairly, uh, “normal.”
Harrumph. Seven people would max out the pool.
I slid between bodies, ducking under arms and hopping over legs. Grabbing a spot, I held on, determined to protect my property rights. 1, 2, 3…. 25, 26, 27… An ankle jabbed into my personal space and broke my focus.
I smiled on the outside, but –funny thing – the Holy Spirit didn’t buy my charade. He knew inside I was snarling Grump-Girl. I knew I had to change my outlook, fast, but I wasn’t sure how to blast this attitude-from-the-pit while I counted and shrugged into an ever-shrinking watery 3-foot square. Plastering hope on my face, in desperation I started to pray.
“Thank you, Lord, that we have this amazing pool,” my heart prayed, but my attitude grumbled. Good reason not to stop. “Thank you for these people and please let me see them with your eyes.” The growling quieted, a little. “Lord, I don’t want to judge and be offended and criticize. Can you help me? What do YOU see? What do YOU want to do?”
Almost instantly, the older woman struck up a conversation with yoga-girl, smiling, encouraging her. Grins erupted… and stabbed my chastened heart. “Why couldn’t I do that,” I mused, still counting exercises. “Why so easily offended?”
The tension lifted and ease settled over the pool. After another tiny lap, yoga-girl climbed onto the pool deck. Instead of a tight-lipped oblivious diva, I saw a fragile woman in search of relief.
Too-tight spaces loosened and we all breathed. Elder-woman fell in place behind me, peering to see my exercise list. “Oh, I’ll copy you,” she quipped as we both laughed. I showed her exercises, she mirrored my motions; we talked about injuries, allergies and… healing.
And God. There it was – she was a believer. SHE was being Jesus to us weird hurting therapy-ites flapping around in overheated water. She was spreading joy. She was relating, and we all responded.
I shook my head, happy to be “bested” by a lover of God. No longer offended grump-girl, I smiled and waved as my new friend exited the pool. “Thank you, Lord,” I whispered as I smiled at snorkel man and finished counting repetitions.