I have plantar fasciitis in both feet, and I have to admit that I’ve been lazy about treating it. It’s an injury that occurs in the tendons that run through the arches of your feet, and it can be really painful. Have you ever stepped on a small hard plastic toy in the middle of the night? Maybe because it was unexpected, or because you’re half asleep, but in that moment the pain feels so unreasonable. It’s amazing that LEGO is still in business because it has been cursed so vehemently by so many delirious parents in the wee hours. Plantar Fasciitis kinda feels like that – but nonstop.
I know what to do to help it, but for months I just resorted to wearing Dansko shoes (which are recommended for plantar fasciitis) and have acted like it would resolve on its own. But now I have a bigger problem: I am going on a family vacation soon, and we will be doing a TON of walking. I’ll probably hit my 10,000 steps each day before lunch. The time has come to address my feet. I’ve had more than a year to do what was needed to fix the problem, but I didn’t. Typical, right? Now that I’ve got something coming up where this issue can cause some serious problems, I want it dealt with like, last year. And I actually COULD have dealt with it LAST YEAR.
Thankfully, it’s not too late, and I am working on it. Though I felt I knew how to fix the problem, I still asked my doctor about it, and she’s given me even more tools. I’ve gotten new shoes (with orthotic inserts) for my trip. I’ve also asked for help at home, and my husband blew me away by offering to learn how to massage my injury in a way that will promote healing—and to add it to our routine on a DAILY basis. His choice. I *might* have teared up a bit because I felt so cared for.
We do this with our spiritual lives, too. We limp along not really addressing our spiritual needs. We don’t seek the help that’s available to us. We don’t do the things that we already know we need to do and we’re clueless about the rest.
We know that we need to be engaging God and his Word. We have some good tools – which we’re probably not really employing. We even have access to others that can come along and help us (like my doctor and my husband were there to help with my feet). Yet, we still do the minimum and pretend that it is enough. For many of us, our “minimum” is weekly church attendance. And, in a sense it probably feels like it is working. Sure, I’ve been walking around for the past year. The problem with my feet hasn’t gotten any worse…but, it hasn’t gotten any better. It’s maybe even cost me things I’ve been unaware of.
Our Christian communities have intentionality built into them by the Holy Spirit. We have the opportunity to find spiritual peers and mentors that can come along side us—at church, women’s ministries, small group Bible studies, mom’s groups and more.
There has been a notable change over the last few years; I wonder if you’ve noticed it too? I think God is putting out a call on the women of his Kingdom in a way that we haven’t seen in a very long time—perhaps ever. Have you noticed how prominent ministry for/to/by women has become in the last few years? Have you noticed that there are some conspicuous themes playing across the platforms of ministries that have no formal association or connection? He has always wanted his sons and daughters to know him, to go deeper, to continue to grow and mature; that’s not new to our generation. But, I think he’s also moving in our time in a way that is unique, and the missional work that he’s called his daughters to is breaking forward in new and dynamic ways. And if we’re going to step into that calling as his adopted daughters, we need to do more than the minimum. We need to do more than wear good shoes and wish our spiritual “foot pain” would go away.
Here are just a few things that I believe God is putting a renewed conviction on his daughters for:
- Biblical Literacy
- Deep, meaningful, intimate relationships with a few sisters in Christ who can speak truth into our lives, even when it is uncomfortable.
- Meaningful fellowship with other women of God where we can learn from one another—but that doesn’t necessarily demand deep intimacy.
Why do we need these things? Because it is no longer time to be limping around. Like my upcoming vacation, God’s plans are happening whether or not we’re ready for them.
Individually, we each can benefit from taking an honest look at our spiritual lives and asking some simple questions like:
- Do I read the Bible and pray on a regular basis, alone? Or just at small group and at Sunday worship?
- Do I know how to answer the questions others have about God, Jesus or scripture? Do I know where I can go to get help for questions that are too hard for me to answer on my own?
- How long has it been since I’ve encountered God through scripture and prayer in a manner that changed me?
- Do I have someone that I can confide in without fear of judgement? Do I have someone I can trust will tell me when I’m going off the rails spiritually, whom I’ll listen to?
- Do I have a way of connecting with other women of faith that I can learn and grow with, and even serve? Is there a church, ministry or small group that I can participate in?
- If I look back to myself a year ago, or three years ago, or five years ago, have I grown in spiritual maturity? Or am I in the same place I’ve always been?
For those of us who are leaders, there are some additional questions to consider:
- Am I helping the women I encounter to move toward God? Or am I just re-enforcing the status-quo?
- Am I helping women with the individual questions above?
- Am I contributing to the spiritual growth of others around me, in the spaces that God brings me to?
- Am I pointing to Jesus, or myself?
- Does my ministry welcome others that do not look and act just like me? It is welcoming to women who don’t know God? Women who haven’t been attending church? Single? Divorced? Different-looking? Childless? Is it a safe place for women who don’t fit the church-lady mold?
- Does my ministry teach Biblical truth in a manner that goes beyond simple encouragement, but also equips, challenges and ignites?
- Do I have open ears and a tender heart to hear from those around me who would offer Godly council?
There’s probably so much more that could be added to these lists. Please know my heart: I’m not coming at these questions from a place of judgement or condemnation; I’m coming from a place of personal conviction and bruised feet. My heart is hurting over these questions. If I ever, for a moment, make it seem like I’ve gotten it all worked out perfectly, then I’ve got a pretty big plank in my eye.
It is time for our women’s ministries to move past the age of our mothers and grandmothers; where tea cookies, a Bible story and maybe a couple of tears constitutes a woman’s event. No offense to grandma. The stakes have been raised and we’re called to rise also.
I hope you’ll pray over these questions, and consider them. God is on the move, and I think it takes very little effort to see tons of evidence of this. He’s going to do His work, with our without us – but, he’s inviting our participation. How can we go on this long walk, if we have “injured feet”?