A NEW YEAR: The Power Of Stretch
Richard Leslie Parrott, Ph.D.
Currently, I am in the process of going through six weeks of Physical therapy for a problem in my shoulder. After an MRI, the doctor provided a shot and sent me to PT. The exercises are tolerable. However, when my therapist pushes the joint to the point of deep stretch, she can read the pain in my face. She asked, “Is it okay to hurt a little?” I responded, “Yes – I want to get better.”
My little episode reminded me of Dan Clark, a motivational speaker, who tells his story of being injured while playing basketball – he was stepped on in such a way that it severed his Achilles’ tendon. After a number of surgeries as well as being in a cast for several months, Dan was sent to physical therapy. In physical therapy, he was challenged to bend the foot in such a way that it stretched the muscle and the tendon. The only way he would learn to walk again is to stretch.
Stretching requires facing two challenges:
- You must stretch beyond your comfort zone. Strength only comes past the point of discomfort. The robin can only grow when it breaks out of its shell. Children only learn when they face new challenges. Churches only grow when they’re willing to stretch beyond their comfort zone. And the way we grow toward our true and best selves is to face issues we would rather avoid.
- You need a push to stretch beyond your comfort zone. Dan continues the story of his physical therapy by reminding us that PT is expensive. He knew he needed to stretch the muscle and tendon. He told himself, “I can do this myself.” But, the facts are, he couldn’t and you can’t either. We all need a push. The push may come from a mentor or teacher, an accountability partner, or a personal coach. The stretch may result form a tragedy, family situations, job change, or other point of stress. We need help to stretch. And, the stretch is used by God to shape us into our true and best selves.
When Jesus was confronted by a man with a withered hand, he said to him, “‘Stretch out your hand.’ So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other” (Matthew 12:13). Dare you stretch out your heart, your soul, your pain, your life and trust the compassion of God to mold you into his plan for your life?