On the yoga mat, with my forehead on the mat, my legs folded beneath me in child’s pose, I hear my yoga instructor say, in her mellow yoga voice, “Now turn up the corners of your mouth.” She doesn’t actually say, “Smile,” but it’s what she means, and I love the way she makes me rethink how one small movement changes what’s going on inside of me.
Now, let me tell you something, okay? I am at a place in my life — my journey, if you will — where yoga works for me. Years ago, I was in a different place. If you knew me then, you’re probably reading this, shaking your head, saying to yourself, “Yoga? She goes to yoga?” For a while there, I was pretty much anti-yoga, for all of the reasons you’ve probably heard listed by others who don’t think a yoga mat is the best place for a Christian to be. I don’t know what to tell you except that maybe it’s a good thing to make room for the journey.
My mother always used to say something like this, “When a person first gets saved, someone should lock them up for a year.” She said it because of her own conversion experience. I don’t know if “conversion experience” is the right phrase. She grew up in church, and she was baptized when she was young. But, as an adult, she experienced something new in her faith — something that involved the Holy Spirit (I still think we should talk more about him. Her?). My mother was SO happy with her new understanding of God, that she wanted everyone to have what she had and, well, I guess it was a bit annoying. I don’t know. I was a little girl.
When my children were young, I wanted so badly to protect them from evil, and to make sure they grew up with a strong faith in God. I monitored what they read, what they watched on TV, what they ate, and I kept them away from “questionable” religious practices. So, basketball was in, but martial arts was out. Ballet was in, but yoga was out. Uno was in, but poor Pokemon wasn’t allowed in the front door. Adventures in Odyssey? Yes! Nancy Drew? No! (I know! I LOVE Nancy Drew! I grew up reading Nancy Drew!)
That was then. This is now. I’ve loosened up a bit. Thank God. Quite a bit, apparently. (Deep, cleansing breath.)
There is something going on these days in conversations among Christians. I can’t quite put my finger on it, other than to tell you it makes me uneasy. I’m all for healthy debate, you know? I am first in the line of people encouraging us to talk about the tough stuff, work through the hard questions. But sometimes, I think grace is missing. I think we need to make more room for the journey.
I just want you to know I’m for you. Wherever you are on your journey, I am for you. You and Jesus can figure out the details of your journey together, and I’ll cheer you on. I’ll pray for you. I’ll pick you up if you stumble along the way. If there’s a pothole up ahead, I’ll try to fill it in for you before you get there. If there’s a steep uphill climb around the bend, I’ll try to remember to text you a message so you’ll know to pace yourself. But mainly, I’m trusting that you and Jesus are mapping out the journey together. I’m counting on you to make sure your GPS is set to the course He’s chosen for you.
Some might say that’s too much grace and that makes me wonder where the cut-off is, because surely I’ve reached my quota, but grace just keeps pouring out over me and I keep turning up the corners of my mouth anyhow.