The former pastor of our church used to say that if she heard something three times, from three different people, she knew she needed to pay attention. It might be a nudge from God.
I had that happen recently.
I heard the same question from three different sources in one week. What are you telling yourself that you can’t do?
So I pondered that question. What was I telling myself I couldn’t do?
I came up several things. One of them was driven home when I had my annual physical.
I was telling myself I couldn’t exercise.
It wasn’t like I was getting exercise on the job. I don’t even have to walk in from the parking lot, since my office is also my guest room.
I had excuse after excuse for not making exercise part of my day. I’ve been suffering from plantar fasciitis for months. No amount of stretching or icing or foot exercises or praying has made the pain in my heels go away. My doctor told me I could get shots in my feet that would ease the problem.
Friends who had the same condition said the shots hurt like crazy and only help for a month or two.
That didn’t sound appealing.
But I couldn’t walk outside like I used to—half an hour, a few times a week. Granted, I wasn’t that excited about those walks, but at least I could do them. Swimming wasn’t a bad option, but I didn’t want to swim in the outdoor pool because, at the time, it was barely getting to up to 80 in the afternoons. The only indoor pool in town was closed for repairs.
I looked online for articles about exercise with plantar fasciitis. Every one of them mentioned biking.
I mean, seriously, I hadn’t ridden a bike (except for one time about 1999) in forty years. Forty years! And even then, back in high school, it wasn’t like I rode a lot. We lived in the country, on a state highway. I wasn’t allowed to ride on the highway, so my friend Karen, who lived across the road, and I would ride through the woods on a dirt path, briars and poison ivy grabbing at our ankles, until we came to a gravel road. Then it was at least two miles, including going up a truly, truly horrible hill, to get to town. All this in the summer in Missouri when a cool day peaked at 92 degrees and 89 percent humidity. Did I mention that my bike didn’t have gears and Karen’s did? My legs hurt just thinking of it. Needless to say, once I learned how to drive, I never biked that dirt path again.
Then, about a month ago, the bloodwork from my physical came back. The numbers, while not horrible, were not what I wanted.
About that time I thought about the fact that the books that really stick with me, the ones I remember, are the ones where the hero or heroine manages to do the thing at the end that they could never do in the beginning. Whether it’s a romance or some other genre, I like upbeat endings, books about people who overcome their obstacles. I know from studying the writing craft that I’m not alone. In fact, one thing I do when I write each book is to make sure that the hero and heroine overcome their obstacles. The heroine learns to trust again. The hero is longer afraid to risk his heart. They stop believing they are incapable of change.
Exactly what I needed to do.
It was time to break through my obstacle. We even had a bike in our garage. A rusty, twenty-year-old bike that I think cost $77 brand new. The one my daughter rode at college because she wanted a bike that no one would steal.
One evening I walked that bike up the hill to the main (fairly flat) road in our subdivision. Very carefully of course, because of the lovely plantar fasciitis, which makes walking uphill less than fun. I fixed the seat so my feet would be completely on the ground if I took them off the pedals, just like you adjust a little kid’s bike when they first ride a two-wheeler without training wheels. Then I got on.
I was, quite honestly, terrified.
Very carefully, I rode to the corner and back.
That’s all it took. I was no longer sitting inside, feeling old and decrepit and stuck. Instead, I felt young and vigorous and free!
The next day I rode two miles, and the day after that four.
Ten days after that first ride, I bought a new bike.
Lately, my husband and I have been riding almost every morning on the town bike path. I’m up to eight miles at a time and each time, I come back invigorated, ready to jump into writing–just as soon as I’ve had a shower.
It’s been a great three weeks. I have to tell you, it feels just as wonderful to overcome my obstacle as it does to read about a heroine overcoming hers in a romance novel.
But I have a feeling it wasn’t all me. I don’t know for sure, but it could be that God heard my prayers and decided that healing my plantar fasciitis would only get me back where I was a year ago–rather apathetically taking a half-hour walk every couple of days, and only if the weather was good. It could be that God took a different, better tactic.
He might be the reason I heard that question three times about the obstacles I was placing in my own path. And the reason I’m now eager to go out, every day I can, and ride as long as I can fit in my schedule. In time, I’m pretty sure the plantar fasciitis will go away. Both my doctor and those article said it would. By then, I bet my health is better than it’s been in years, all thanks to biking. And that nudge.
If God can help me do a new thing, I believe with all my heart that He can help you too.
Today, remembering an obstacle I overcame in 2015 when I published my first book, I’ve got that book, Christmas in Abundance, on sale for $0.99.
I hope you’ll pick up a copy. More importantly, I hope you’ll think about an obstacle you see in your life, brainstorm possible ways to overcome it, and ask God to help you turn that obstacle into a victory!