For a short time while I was growing up, I wanted to be a physical therapist. Later, while recovering from a knee surgery, I learned that part of their job is somewhat akin to torturing people. (I instead became a pharmacist so I can give people medicine to feel better after having been to physical therapy.) I don’t believe that physical therapists have masochistic tendencies or anything. The painful stretching and strengthening is always necessary to gain mobility and function. I am certain it is rewarding for patient and therapist to see them overcome so much and progress after working so hard. After my knee surgery, I had to get my range of motion back. I laid on my stomach with my legs out straight behind me on the table. My job was to bend my knee and lift my heel to my bottom as far as I could. I was able to get it a couple of inches off of the table by myself. The therapist, Brad, said he would help me. He said, “This may hurt a bit. I can get a towel for you to bite on if needed.” Ummm…thanks? I bit down on the towel as he lifted my ankle up until my knee was at about 90 degrees. I focused on my breathing and tried my best to relax the stretch. After some time, Brad started to count down – “10…9…8…” I started to anticipate being able to put my leg back in a comfortable position. I felt anxious and was ready for a good “Ahhhh…” sigh as he got to “3…2…1.” However, instead of allowing me that much waited for release, he said, “Let’s push a little deeper.” He pushed my knee tighter and I bit down harder on my towel while he started counting down from a much higher number. Sometimes, God is a lot like a physical therapist. He pushes us out of our comfort zone and waits for us to acclimate and then he pushes us a bit further. He never leaves us and is always there for us as we progress and learn.
“Let’s Push a Little Deeper”
About 5 years ago, my husband was considering the idea of going back to school for his doctorate degree. We attended the temple to get some direction. As we were getting ready to leave, he asked if I had felt any impressions. I said, “I promise you that I was praying to know what to do about school but the answer I received was that we should have (another) child.” He had felt good about school – which also meant that I would become the breadwinner for 4 years – and I had felt good about a baby so we pursued both, knowing that we were just asking for weariness in abundance. When our new baby was just a few months old, I went back to work.
Thankfully, I was able to work part-time and we could make ends meet. I changed jobs a few times, trying to find the best fit for our family schedule. At one point, I’d been in line for a job that, in my opinion, would have been ideal. However, due to some miscommunication, the manager didn’t think I was interested and it was offered to someone else. I was heartbroken and frustrated when I heard the news. It wasn’t until then that I realized just how much I was hoping for a change. I felt that my reasons to desire the job were righteous ones and did not understand why the change would be delayed.
Counsel from a Wise Mission President
Over the following days, I kept remembering a conversation I had years earlier with my mission president. It was a similar situation. I was in a difficult spot and felt that certainly, with all that was going on, that transfers would lead to a change for me. They did not. I was disappointed and frustrated. My mission president told me, “Sister Grenzebach, your day in the sun is coming. I know that this is a difficult situation for you but the Lord needs you here right now. You have characteristics and attributes that those around you need to gain.”
As those words continued to run through my mind, the answer was confirmed as the spirit whispered, “Anne, I love you and I believe in you. I know you are frustrated and it doesn’t seem to make sense to you that the job didn’t work out. Please know that there is a reason. I need you to remain in your current situation – not for you but for those around you. You can be a force for good in their lives. Will you please sacrifice your plan a bit longer so that I can use you for that purpose? Your day in the sun is coming.”
Out of our Comfort Zone
We are now finally approaching that much anticipated “day in the sun” where I would get what I wanted. Graduation is a mere 2 weeks away. For years, I have been anticipating the opportunity to pass that bread-winner hat back to my husband. However, there is a cruel weariness-inducing irony to our current situation. My husband and I will have the same degree and work in the same field. Currently, there are hardly any available entry-level positions for him. But, at my job, they are in need of extra help so instead of me remaining part-time, (or further lessening my hours once my husband has a job), I am going full-time. My years-long countdown to getting to spend less time at work has been flipped at the last minute. It’s like when, instead of letting up, the physical therapist said, “Let’s push it a little deeper.” If I dwell on my frustration with the situation, it can definitely cycle around and keep bringing unhappy thoughts and feelings. However, I have felt an inherent calm that it will work out in the Lord’s time and in His way. I can have confidence in that because I have seen it before. I have desperately wanted a particular path and I was given a different path that, in retrospect, was exactly what I had needed. I am doing my best to just hang on and be not weary even though I don’t understand what the “great work” is in this case. Sometimes, we just have to grin, (and bite down on a metaphorical towel), while we wait to see just what it is that Heavenly Father has in store for us next.