to see who would make it to the parking lot first.
Most days she would win.
I would pull into my s
elf-assigned parking space at the gym at 5:01 a.m. to find her car already backed in to “her” spot with her spunky personalized plate claiming first prize.
But on occasion, I’d actually find myself ahead of her as we turned in to the lot. Mind you, she was hot on my bumper, headlights blaring into my rearview mirror.
I don’t know that she was aware of the race… it was probably just in my mind.
Then last week, I noticed that each day, not only did I “win” the race, but I never saw her enter the gym for our routine, “hellos,” or leave the gym later with our sweaty, “have a good days.”
And it wasn’t until this past Monday that I heard she had been injured and would be out of the race for six to eight weeks!
After I ended my workout, I listened as a trainer told of how she had fallen from the attic ladder and shattered her heel, requiring surgery.
I stood still, feeling the tears begin to well, as I flashed back to those days spent in my bed wondering if I’d ever walk again.
I KNOW that pain.
Not just physical, but emotional and mental.
This woman I admire, is 10 years my senior.
And yet, she is faithful to be in the gym every morning and competes annually in half-marathons, “tough mudders”, and cross-fit challenges.
To be honest, outside this arena, I barely know her.
I’m embarrassed to say that until that day, I didn’t even know her last name.
I honestly haven’t taken my headphones out long enough to get past some basic,
“Can I work in?”
and “Are you done here?”
And now she is not simply suffering pain, but the loss of much more.
And who knows what else.
Because I don’t know enough about her.
But what I do know, is that when we experience a life event such as this, it halts everything normal. Everything we routinely find easy becomes overwhelming.
It seems so unfair at first.
Most people avoid the concept of “fairness,” and often just call and event like this a SETBACK.
And, interestingly, the dictionary has a couple very different definitions for that word.
The one most commonly thought of is comprised of negative words like:
And we can get stuck here when we get trapped in our mind of self-talk.
We question and doubt everything.
Starting with the event itself:
“Why did I climb that ladder to the attic?”
“Surely, it could have waited until someone else was able to help.”
“I should have asked for help.”
“If only I could go back and do that day again.”
And then it broadens:
“Why did this happen to me?”
“How long will this last?”
“Will I be able to walk again, normally?”
“Will I be able to run again?”
But we can’t let these continue to swirl in our mind, or they will dominate our thoughts and can lead to much broader doubts.
And these thoughts, if left unchecked, can become overwhelming.
I am speaking from experience.
Interestingly, there’s also a definition of SETBACK, that ventures to the positive realm.
It relates to architecture.
Architecture… the design, planning and building of something.
If you’ve ever looked up at the tall buildings in a downtown area, they use SETBACKs quite often. It is a recession of the upper part of the building. It’s structural purpose is to lessen the footprint of the building while allowing light to flow into the crowded downtown area.
While it is typically seen as structural “need,” architects and designers have made use of this to beautify the skyline of many cities. The building below has two setbacks.
It comes from Him when we are willing to humble our hearts and minds and let Him mold us and make us from the experiences and, yes, even SETBACKs that we live through.
So let’s sit atop this building and consider the value in this second meaning.
For our life, consider that God may simply want us to stop and re-evaluate what is most important. Do we have our priorities lined up so that we give Him the most space in our lives… or are WE what is taking up the most space in our mind, in our day, in our every constant moment.
Do we pursue, or even consider what God want us to do with our lives?
Or do we just go about our daily tasks and become all consumed, taking up as much space as possible?
Maybe He wants to lighten our load?
Maybe He wants to lighten our footprint?
Maybe He just needs to slow us down… or sometimes stop us… to get us to look up, for this to happen.
The second part of the architectural definition of SETBACK is to allow light to flow into a crowded area.
And this is not the artificial kind of light.
This is that beautiful bright sunlight, that reaches almost 93 million miles, that fights it’s way through clouds, that warms the back of your neck, and that causes you to squint… making the corners of your mouth curve ever so slightly upward!
Guess who made that sun, moon and stars?
Guess who created the heavens and the earth?
Yes, that same God who could have stopped the SETBACK, but allowed it instead so that we would stop, and allow His light to shine upon us… revealing truth.
And we would SET BACK and say to ourselves…
“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord.”
Most times we consider architectural drawings and plans to be for “new” construction.
But think how many buildings you’ve passed claiming, “Pardon our Dust…,” that are under repair or renovation.
It’s the same with our SETBACKs.
And just like the best builders do, when we experience a SETBACK, God will always put up a scaffolding to give us extra support during the change.
And, yes, people will slow down and often stare.
But maybe that’s part of the design. For God to show off His handiwork and amazing craftsmanship! For others to know that He’s working in our lives.
God didn’t stop His job as Creator after the heavens and earth were formed.
He’s constantly at work, designing beautiful NEW things.
We can call on Him…
“Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
He will sustain us.
He will uphold us.
He will support us… through it all.
Call on Him.
Lean on Him.
Rest in Him and know that the Builder and Creator has a plan!