November 25, 2009

Better is One Day in Your Courts

“ Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Two years ago I was an avid tennis player and was playing better than ever. My doubles partner and I had incredible on-court chemistry that allowed us to obtain a near perfect winning record—beating many teams with far greater skill. We were known and respected in our tennis circles. I was as successful in the sport as I’ll ever be.

Playing tennis allowed me to have fun, socialize, compete and win—all while the kids were at school. Life was good for this stay-at-home mom.

Then, it wasn’t. In the last match of the season, I stretched to return a low ball and something gave way in my elbow. I lamely and painfully finished the match but knew something was really wrong.

An MRI confirmed the doctor’s initial diagnosis: tennis elbow. Prognosis: take it easy for six weeks. Ninety percent of the cases resolve quickly on their own. I was sure mine would too.

However, six weeks turned into six months. A year later my elbow still hadn’t completely healed. During that time, I searched for a cure. Massage, cortisone shots, physical therapy, braces, electric stimulation and even acupuncture. An orthopedic surgeon said my elbow would likely heal on its own, although it might take several years. Unless the pain was severe or I needed to use my elbow in my work, the doctor didn’t recommend surgery.

Finally I had to tell my partner and the teams that were waiting for me that I wouldn’t be coming back in the foreseeable future. I gave up my spots and told them to move on.

A big part of my life was gone. I was crushed. Other people face far greater struggles than not being able to play tennis, but I mourned the loss. I missed  socializing, playing and being known as a tennis player. I missed the schedule that ordered my days and the security I found in it. I felt lost.
I prayed for healing and guidance. And I started doing what I hadn’t found time to do when I was playing tennis—I started to write. A lot. I started a blog and wrote regularly for my church newsletter. People said my words touched them. I attended a writers’ conference and met kindred spirits. I joined a writers’ group and submitted articles. Eventually, I was published.

Volunteer opportunities opened up to help in a food pantry and soup kitchen. I was available to reach out to friends, share my talents in new ways and spend time with the Lord. I could say “yes” far more than I said “no.”

I’m still adjusting to this new life of mine, but now instead of asking for healing, I pray, “I’m here for you, Lord. Show me where you need me to go. Use me.”

According to the doctors, one day my elbow will heal and I’ll be able to play tennis again. When that day comes, I’ll probably return to the game I still love. But after living a far more God-directed life I don’t think I’ll ever go back to life as it was.

I miss the wins on the tennis court. But, I’d trade them all for the victories I’ve experienced in the courts of the Kingdom of God.

Have you experienced loss, discouragement or a change in plans and are struggling to find direction in your present? God promises that no matter what our circumstances He has a good and perfect plan. Soak in His words of assurance in Psalm 25:4, 37:23, 65:11 and 119:105; Isaiah 30:21; Jeremiah 29:11; and John 10:27.
"In his heart a man plans his course,
but the LORD determines his steps" ~ Proverbs 16:9


Eileen Astels Watson said...

Heading over, but wanted to wish you a very Happy Blessed Thanksgiving.

Cheryl Barker said...

Kelli, isn't it something how when God brings one chapter of our lives to a close, He has something else for us?

Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family!

Sue J. said...

Our handbell ministry went from being an inside-the-church ministry to a ministry that plays for outside venues--twice a month now since October!

My co-director and I dealt with all the issues of grief over it, until we played a concert for an audience of nursing home residents that included a member of our congregation who was dying. It suddenly made sense that God had a bigger and better purpose, and it was OK to not play in church.

It's hard to see God's big plan. We don't have God-shaped glasses to help us focus. But, faith takes us "out of bounds." When we see that God not only hasn't left us but is opening doors and rolling out paved straightaways for us, then we rejoice.

It's an amazing journey! I know you would like to be on those courts, and I totally understand your reasoning. I hope that He has filled those places that tennis did. Your writing over the year+ certainly suggests this to me. I am very thankful for it--and YOU!

I hope you, Dan and the kids enjoy a wonderful time of Thanksgiving and a joyous beginning of Advent!

Irritable Mother said...

On my way over now.
Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Julie Gillies said...

Hi Kelli!

I left you a comment over at Exemplify but wanted to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. Hope your holiday is filled with joy, peace and laughter.

Kelly Combs said...

I loved this post and the title! I'm singing it now. I'm sorry God took away your love, but glad he is filling those voids with his plans for you.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Ginny Fisher said...

Isn't it such a blessing to see around you all the things God has given us. He's such an awesome God, and we are so lucky to be His. Thanks for the blog.

Runner Mom said...

This was great!I understand just where you're coming from, my sweet friend! It's hard to let go, but it's exciting to see where GOd will lead you!

I'll keep y'all posted on the "nice lady!" There are way more phone calls with excuses than I wrote about! I'm praying that she follows through!!

Hope y'all had a great Thanksgiving!