BY SEAN TERRY | JUNE 14, 2021
As you're reading this, take a moment to double check a few things. Unclench your jaw. Place your tongue onto the roof of your mouth. Breathe through your nose. Relax your shoulders away from your ears. Looking forward, pull your neck back and tuck your chin in. Raise your chest and bring forward your hips so that they are aligned below. Straighten your back so that you are as tall as possible.
You have just gotten closer to proper posture. And I have had to pay attention to it quite a bit over the past few months.
Now the funny thing about posture is it tends to be something we almost never think about during our day. I certainly never gave it much room in my head. So what if I slouch in my chair every once in a while? Who cares if I crane my neck forward a lot because I’m looking down at my phone (or trying to hide a double chin!)? Does it make much of a difference?
Turns out when you are recovering from a severe back injury, standing up straight isn’t a recommendation, it is a necessity. My doctors and physical therapists were drill sergeants on this. My poor little T12 and L1 vertebrae were primarily concerned with healing. So I was doing them no favors if I continued in my bad habits of slouching. Simply leaning over added literally hundreds of extra pounds of pressure to my spine - because Archimedes is a jerk. But imagine how annoying it gets after a while being told you’re not standing up straight. It’s a good thing I got to wear a mask, because that was how I always got away with sticking my tongue out.
We are all prone to resist change. But it is more accurate to say what we are really resistant to is correction. All of us probably have wrong habits we follow for our entire life without knowing better - I genuinely didn’t know that I had spent my whole life standing up and sitting down wrong. Yet even if we are taught the better alternative, those old habits still die hard. This applies to more serious things as well, like my tendencies to go days without brushing my teeth (twice a day is now my minimum), or my casual racism I used to express as an immature teenager in addition to the constant profanities I would utter amongst my friends. Ignorance is bliss, but it tends to hurt people as well.
A funny observation I have made is that no one likes being told to smile more. I’m sure the suggestion always seems virtuous to the one giving it, but the recipient has the opposite experience right away. If you are having a bad day, it was just made worse. If you are having a good day, it was just made worse. If you were already smiling . . . well now you just don’t want to! I find it curious that being told to correct your face and smile is such an antagonizing and self-conscious phenomenon. Sure, we all look better when we smile. But how dare someone tell us that we’re not smiling enough! Yet, there was no way around it. With a smile on my face or not, I had to change the way I stood up and sat down. Even Scripture is pretty clear on this.
Proverbs 29:1 AMP
He who hardens his neck and refuses instruction after being often reproved (corrected, criticized), will suddenly be broken beyond repair.
Change is inevitable. Nothing stays the same for very long on earth. But this also means correction will be inevitable too. As things around me change, sometimes it means I must also change on the inside. In order to do that I need to submit to God’s Word and His instructions. I can’t live unaware of my bad posture forever. Eventually I’m gonna need to get a clue and start improving my behavior.
Acts 17:30-31 NIV
In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.
The greatest privilege I have is that Jesus has saved me from living a life completely oblivious to God’s love towards me. But a part of God’s love is also His correction. He is calling all of us to practice a better posture and adjust the stance of our hearts. Fortunately, like my physical therapists, He helps us along the way.
Psalm 32:8 NLT
The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.”
Healing is most effective when in alignment with the Healer. As the ribcage sits above the pelvis, so does the King reign above the earth in heaven. God is good, and in His goodness He wants us to experience an abundant life. He has plans that we aren’t yet ready for, because we haven’t even thought about them yet!
1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT
That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”
If I could leave you with one driving philosophy I have about the future, it is this: Let us never confuse the way things are with the way they should be. One brief glance at our world today will plainly show to anyone that there is something fundamentally wrong with it. Some time ago a wrong turn was made and now it is disastrously off course. A great many things are a mess and it does not seem they are getting any better — the results of sinful mankind in a fallen world. I may be tempted to believe this is a recent dilemma, but now I understand it began way before me. However, here is what gives me hope - the history books (including the Bible) testify that both hardship and fortune dance back and forth with one another in a perpetual ballet. Some things will get worse, but some things will also get better. As God’s people, it is our responsibility to put our hearts in the right posture, so that we can be ready for all the things He has in store!
2 Chronicles 7:14
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.