I am trained to be a clown. No, really, about 15+ years ago, my wife and I were trained to be clowns and to use that training in ministry. We learned the premise for using clown ministry to connect with people of all ages. We were instructed that the "Christian" clown never belittles anyone but always lifts people up. We learned the different face covers and designs and discovered each differing look has its own identity. Underneath the makeup is Randy or Tracie but the face we wear promotes a whole other personality. This masquerade presents one person while covering the other. A good clown absorbs and becomes the new personality.
Clowning around has most often been my personality. I joke about many things and appear to have everything together. I seem to be easy going. It looks, at least on the surface, that Randy is in complete control. Terms like: reserved, laid back, low key, and a calming presence have often been used to describe me. I am some of these things and I am none of them.
For the last 6 weeks or so, I have not slept well. I have been dealing with respiratory discomfort and have had a nagging pain in my left shoulder blade that would radiate into my neck and rest in my head. There has been no good place to lay my head at night to get the pain to subside. Ibuprofen has been a daily companion. Self diagnosing has always been my downfall. Dr. Hughes supposed the pain was from a few different things and most days would plaster on a smiley face and get on with life. Each new day brought more pain, a less rested body, and more miserable self.
Enter my lovely wife and number one caregiver. We had been talking about a particular exercise DVD that seemed to go missing a while back. Well, about a week ago, the DVD was found and this past Monday we decided to do the 33 minutes in 33 days Prayfit challenge with Jimmy Pena. Funny how our lives get so balled up in deadlines, pressures to perform, and a hundred other drains on our life that health can be overlooked.
Well, we are six days into this challenge and remarkably my back and neck pain have subsided and the dull ache in my head has vanished. I could say with some accuracy that the weeks leading up to Holy Week were stressful. I can admit that I worry about things like Holy Week. On the outside, I exude faith that all details of every service will be cared for and that this isn't my first rodeo. On the inside, my brain overthinks and over plans too much. I am a ball of nerves that few people ever identify. So with smile on the outside and debilitating pain on the inside away I go.
Worry, stress, and control are killers in so many ways. Physical, emotional and eventually spiritual health will suffer due to these stressors. Jesus had some things to say about worry. He had little to say about how to combat worry other than don't do it. I would like to humbly add that a good regimen of exercise can reduce stress and bring health back to us. It did for me. Jesus wants us to have bulletproof faith; faith that trusts even when details are few and far between. Jesus wants us to trust Him. I do, but then I don't. Maybe you suffer from some of the same weaknesses that I do.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:25-34, NIV)
If stress is overwhelming you, get outside and breath some new air. Connect with some friends and go have a lunch gab session. Make time to listen for Jesus to simply say, stop the masquerade and stop worrying.