Because of Covid and the size of the space, our class size has been limited to three participants at a time. One of the reasons I love this particular class is that it has a strong emphasis on our spiritual well-being as well as our physical health.
On this night, it was the instructor, my friend Heather, and me. After the opening prayer and a few stretches, our instructor guided our thoughts as she prayed out loud, “Lord, help us to put others before ourselves.” Looking back, my response was quite comical, although I didn’t see it in that moment. My first thought was, “Wow. That is NOT what Heather needs to hear! She is a mom to four tiny people; she homeschools two of them while nursing the baby and managing a two-year-old wreaking havoc on her home as she endeavors to teach the two oldest. She spends her entire days pouring herself out for her children and others. (Oh, and she has a husband with a demanding military job which requires him to be gone many days a month!) It’s kind of a family joke, but our saying is, “You can’t outdo or outgive Heather.” And I’m sure the neighbors would agree. There’s not a time goes by that I don’t take dinner or something down to her house and I don’t inevitably come back with my hands full.
So, when the instructor said those words, I found myself defensive on Heather’s behalf. In fact, I rewrote the thought in my head, deeming what I was sure would be more appropriate for Heather to hear; “Lord, help us take time to care for ourselves.” After all, attending this class was one of the first things I’d seen Heather do for herself in a very long time.
I didn’t say anything that night, but kept my thoughts to myself, ruminating on them in the days to come. And lo and behold, a few mornings later, sitting with Jesus, and thinking of this exercise class, I felt the Lord whisper to me, “You know when the instructor said, “Lord, help us to put others before ourselves?” That wasn’t for Heather. It was for you. (Insert surprised, wide-eyed emoji.)
This time I didn’t rewrite the script or find my response comical. I just sat and thought about how much I needed to hear those words. Just that morning I was crafting a response to a text in my head and realized I was making a situation all about me and not about the friend on whom it should have been focused. The Lord brought to mind other instances where I’ve clearly been selfish in my thoughts and actions. And additional examples of a word being spoken and my first response being “Who needs to hear this?” instead of “Yes, Lord, thank you for giving this word to me. I’m the one who needs to hear this.”
Our instructor’s prayer was a great reminder. I need to always be listening for a personal word from the Lord. Indeed, this was a word for me.