Stretching regularly can keep you flexible.  And the more flexible you are, the less prone you will be to injuries.

**Paraphrased from Runner’s World Complete Book of Women’s Running

Back in high school I joined a dance team for one year.  I know, I know… please don’t mock me. It was the coolest thing our little Christian school was doing at the time – a dance team at a Christian school.  It was revolutionary really!

We had a lot of fun in this group.  I’ll proudly take credit for the killer moves we created for dc Talk’s “Jesus is Still Aright”.

We were dedicated to rehearsal and we took seriously every basketball game we got to perform at.

But one thing I did not do very well was warm up or S T R E T C H.

My little teeny-bopper self thought that I was above that.  I was in good shape.  Why waste time stretching?

Unfortunately I learned that lesson the hard way.

One night immediately following a riveting game of basketball (in which of course my high school boyfriend was the star player) I pranced out on the floor with the rest of our troop.  We danced our little choreographed hearts out and were keyed up for our grand finale.  As the rest of the troop stacked themselves into a stunning people pyramid, I confidently bounced to the middle and with great flair, landed myself into a splits position.  It didn’t take long to know I was in trouble.  I felt a horrific pain in my right hamstring.  But the show must go on and so with arms raised in triumph and a big fat pageant smile on my face, I sucked up the pain, determined to finish.

I was too proud to admit what I had done, so I calmly pulled myself up and waddled to the door trying to not make it obvious that my breath-taking split was definitely… breath-taking.  In fact, I was so embarrassed by my stupidity that I never got my leg checked out by a doctor.  I knew I should have stretched and prepared and I wasn’t about to admit my failure.  Years later a doctor confirmed that I had indeed torn my muscle and every day I’m reminded of my unnecessary injury because of the big knot of scarred muscle tissue that protrudes from my right thigh.

Over and over again in life I find myself trying to avoid the pain of stretching.

Avoiding the little conversations that would mend a relationship and keep it from tearing further apart.

Avoiding the feedback of friends who are trying to share concerns that might save me from making a bigger failure later.

Avoiding the tough work of writing and research that are necessary for me to achieve the dreams that God has put on my heart.

Avoiding the discipline of our daily work in hopes of fame and recognition.

Skipping the opportunity of investing in the lives directly around you in hopes of speaking to a big stage.

Missing the chance to write a personal note of counsel and encouragement to a friend because you’re trying to write a book to compel thousands.

Stretching is uncomfortable. I think too many times we want to skip the stretching and get straight to the performance.  We try to avoid a bit of discomfort and jump to the payoff.

It just never works that way.  The payoff never really comes without the pain of the stretching.

The beautiful thing about stretching is that it also becomes rewarding.  Once you’ve stretched a little bit, that new place becomes the norm and so you stretch again… this time a little bit farther.

You don’t know you have a little bit more to give until you’ve been stretched.

You see, stretching takes you incrementally to the places that you want to go without the pain of loss.  Stretching is a process of patience that will lead you to the things you desire to accomplish without the frustration of failure.

Stretching is the discipline of the little things behind-the-scenes that matter in the big moments of life.

Are you ready to be stretched?

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  • Bianca May 16, 2011  

    I can physically do the splits. I can lift my leg high. But I’m not flexible in the places and times it matters 🙁

    The Unflexible One

  • Tricia Lovejoy May 16, 2011  

    Profound. Thanks, Jenni!

  • Jenny May 16, 2011  

    awesome Jenni!

  • Bethany Planton May 17, 2011  

    I am surprised your Christian school let you have a dance team. There is no way we would have been allowed to do that at mine. When we played the Chicken Dance for pep band we were not allowed to do the butt shake at the end!

    Great thoughts. I processing where I need to stretch.

  • Stefanie Cassetto May 17, 2011  

    Inspiring and challenging. Always love reading your thoughts on life and ministry. Thank you Jenni!