I’m starting to see the connections. For example, the Arabic word meaning to remain with is connected to the word for to sit down. I get that. A word that starts as discussion can easily become the word for argument. Makes sense.
And one of the words for working out also means… math?
That one, I asked my teacher to clarify. She grinned at my puzzled expression. “Of course: exercise for your body… or exercise for your mind!”
My mind is getting a lot more exercise than my body this summer, as community center activities take a hiatus and I sit with language teachers, studying word connections and sipping sweet coffee. So I decided to borrow a work-out DVD from one of my housemates. I’ve seen fit college athletes nurse aching limbs after one of these workouts: 30 Day Shred.
Jillian Michaels, the coach, reminds me daily: “You want change. To get that, you’ve got to endure stress…. That’s how change happens.” (Did I mention that in Arabic, the word to beat/to hit someone is connected to the word to coach?)
Rob Reimer is a professor and pastor, and a person experienced in endurance of tough things. His teaching “hits me”/coaches me even from across an ocean. The truth is that amidst the summer stillness, I am restless for resolution– resolution of conflict in this region, of sadness of loved friends, and of longings in my own soul. Reimer reminds me, “…this time between the promise and the delivery of the promise is the most critical time in the life of the people of God. It is the “in between time.'” (Pathways to the King).
I wasn’t sure I had a story this week. I am in between spring and fall semesters at the university, between Ramadan and the re-opening of the center, between being green and being seasoned, between hearing the promises and being able to grasp them with my hands. And tension resides. My instinct with this tension is the same as my instinct with Jillian Michaels’ Shred video: I want a different way, I want to get out of it. But stress builds change often, or at least creates the opportunity for it. And I’m beginning to see the connection.
Here in the in-between, I spend my days studying Arabic and “shredding,” throwing away last semester’s worksheets to make way for new students, organizing my apartment to prepare for leaving it this fall to live a month with a local family… While I can see the end coming quickly to this in-between schedule, I don’t know when the resolutions promised will come.
Reimer says that, in the in-betweens, people face three major challenges:
- trying to make things happen via our own resources
- listening to competing voices (counter to what He says)
So instead I am waiting with arms stretched wide, with one side reaching toward the promises I’ve been given in the past, and the other stretching into hope for the days that remain to be seen; and with whole self here, present. Sometimes there is pain in the stress. But Rob and Jillian agree…
This stretch brings about change. And it’s there that I get ready for new opportunities, which I saw take place even yesterday… although that is a second story. For now, I’ll just say, holding arms wide open leaves me ready, giving or receiving, for an embrace.