Some folks are born straight: others are crooked to the core. I am one of the latter. Case in point, when I was young, I asked God for curves; I just didn’t specify where. He gave me lovely curves at age 18; for at that age, the doctors handed me the diagnosis of scoliosis or my spine's curvature.
So what “CURVES” are you struggling with —weight loss, exercise, a new baby, a new move, a new job? We have an Elder Brother who knows firsthand how hard life is, and He imparts the strength for that straight. As it says in Matthew 3:3, “This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, ‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'” By hanging on to Jesus in all of our challenges, we can form better pathways.
( example of a 60-degree curve which mine was)
What’s Your Curve?
None of us are without challenges; we are all carrying around some curve. Christ, however, came to set us on a straight path to holiness– His joy. Nehemiah 8:10“…for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” His joy is forged from forgiveness–of ourselves and others. (“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”–as Christ said on the Cross.)
Correcting a CURVE in one's life is hard work. It can be painful to become the best version of yourself, and sometimes it feels like you might go under. But, if you let it, that curve, your particular challenge, can be straightened out. The interesting part is that God needs to rewire us with each new straight we acquire.
(A 50 percent curve corrected to 10 percent. Notice hardware now screwed into the spine.)
If our paths are crooked, then God must reboot. For me, after my spinal fusion at age 70, it meant learning to stand and walk again without listing to the left, the direction my body remembered. Fortunately, I don’t have to think about it because those 25 screws, bolts, and the three rods down my spine have begun to rewire my brain. My mind has also learned that my spine isn’t where it used to be. It has been reconfigured into a more normal shape, and I am no longer feeling deformed or in pain as I did for 50 years. It has taken three months of work to walk again, but God has been lovingly reprogramming my thinking each day.
My Student’s New Straight
One of my former students, Mike, shared his desire for a new straight by losing weight. He stated, “It would help me not to cheat in little ways if I imagined a steel trap on my mouth that is locked shut and only unlocks at mealtime in the presence of small portions of healthy food.” That is a great “new straight” visualization tool that God can employ. Remember, my brain kept wanting to lean to my left, but my new straight won’t allow me: I am locked in permanently with the hardware. So find an image or a mental tool that can help you focus on your desires.
My Homeless Friend’s New Straight
Elizabeth has been living out of her truck for months, yet she too is learning a new straight. She didn’t set out to be homeless. She lost her job and used community and faith resources to keep her alive. Today she knocked on my front door with good news, “I got a job mowing the golf course. Part-time 20 hours a week for $13 an hour.” As a former architect, that job is below her goals, but it is work. Today in morning Mass, she cried to God to show her His love. He gave her a job: Her new straight.
What has she learned from this journey? She's learned gratitude, lack of envy, and trust in God no matter how curvy the road looks.
The Big Plow
Sometimes when we are plowing through life, we aren’t paying attention. When God gave me children, He imparted a desire to teach them all at home; so I home-schooled all five of them for a total of twenty-two years. In that journey to educate my offspring, I came across a wonderful scripture that kept me going. It states, Luke 9:62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Know why? Well, if you had a plow and an ox in front of you, and you kept plowing but turned to gaze at your work accomplished, what would those plowed rows where you weren't watching look like? That’s right. BIG CURVES. Yes, if I had lusted for an easier way to home school, my eyes would have been on my goal, not God’s goal for me. So no matter what STRAIGHT you might desire or need, take His hand on this marvelous journey, keep your eyes on His plow, and have faith in His plan, for His love will get you through.
Martha Wild King, M. Ed., Author
The Frugal Catholic: Learn to live on less to give and save more.