I walked into the spa calm, yet excited. I had a rough week and was ready to relax. The day was perfect. It was quiet and hardly anyone was there. For a moment I thought I would have the whole place to myself – which made this introvert beyond happy.
I approached the service counter to schedule a massage. Since there were very few people there, I didn’t have to wait. The masseuse guided me to the table he’d prepared and I laid down. It was a clothed 30 min. massage as I’m allergic to some essential oils.
Then the pushing, pulling, leaning, tugging began. It felt great at first…then there was this intense pain. My jaw and neck have given me trouble for years. I sleep with a custom night guard to keep from clenching my teeth. I knew my neck and shoulders were tight, but the searing pain each time he pressed into my upper body was almost unbearable. At some moments it made me nauseous.
I thought to myself ‘maybe this hurts because he’s a heavy handed guy…this wouldn’t hurt so bad if I had a sweet little old lady’ lol.
It had been a few years since my last massage, but I never remembered it hurting this much. He moved on to my lower back – no problem. My legs – no discomfort there either. Where my muscles were strong, the pressure felt good. Oh, but when he worked his way to my neck and upper back…ouch!
He dug what felt like bony elbows into my shoulder blades repeatedly. My neck muscles were pinched, poked, and squeezed. I winced with pain each time, tears came to my eyes but I never made a sound. Something told me if I stick through this I would feel so much better afterward…and I did.
When the ordeal finally ended, I asked the gentleman if it was supposed to be that painful. He explained to me (which I already knew), that in areas where muscles are the tightest, the massage could definitely hurt. What’s funny is that I didn’t feel any pain at all when it was over, but felt like a new person instead.
This experience reminded me of how God deals with us. In the areas of our lives where we are strong, pressure is no issue. Many times we work well under that pressure. However, in the places within where we need to let go or be strengthened, God will allow the pressures of life to visit us where we are sensitive.
Our weaknesses that we are aware of, but don’t want to deal with – at some point, we’re faced with situations that will force us to confront them. The masseuse paid more attention to my neck and shoulders than any other part of my body because it was the part that needed the most attention.
I think God operates in a similar way. He will let us encounter the same problems over and over until we face the source of the issue, admit our inadequacy, and ask him for the strength that we lack.
9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. [2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV]
My neck and shoulders are the weakest part of my body. The massage therapist did his job working this area until the knots in my muscles were gone. Every time I thought he was done, he would come back to the most tender spots. He was determined not to let me get up from that table without the full benefit of the experience.
God’s love is relentless in the same way. He cares about us too much to leave us alone, especially the parts of ourselves or our lives that have not been completely surrendered to him. I made up my mind to surrender to the masseuse and stick it out. God gently showed me I should yield the same way to him. It’s painful and uncomfortable, but when we get through the process a new level of freedom is waiting on the other side.
I went to the spa to unwind, not to be in distress. Yet, I came away being reminded that a little uneasiness and pressure applied correctly can produce wonderful lasting results. Out of everything I did that day – saunas, hot tubs, naps, snacks, movie – that half hour of discomfort ended up giving me the most comfort.