We can build stone walls so slowly across our lives that we don’t notice as we set each stone into place. That is, until we do. Until the wall blocks and limits us. Until the wall is seemingly impenetrable.
As a child, each day I said “I can’t do that” in my gym class, a small stone moved into place in front of me. Every time I bemoaned my awkwardness as my fate, every time I gave up on running because it was just too hard and I hated being short of breath. Stone by stone. As I started to accept that I wasn’t as good as everyone else. Every diet I went on and every diet I ended; every time I called myself a “cheater” for eating what I shouldn’t have; every time I said I was “bad.” That wall grew thick and high.
As an adult, I knew that others just couldn’t understand how bad my arthritis was. “Bone on bone,” I told people sadly. I accepted that I couldn’t get up from a chair without pulling myself by my arms, or bend my knees to pick something off the floor. As it got difficult to see past that thick wall ahead of me, I had to accept that I couldn’t get up off the floor by myself. Trips to tour college campuses with our sons were a haze of pain. Often, I simply waited while they took the tour. I was surrounded by that wall now. I was separated from the day-to-day little joys that made life worth living.
But. Change one thing, change everything. It’s all a matter of perspective. One thing changed, and those rocks started to tumble down from that impenetrable wall surrounding me. Of course, it has to be the right thing. The lodestone on which the other rocks lean to stay upright.
I know which rock was my lodestone. It was Dr. Joe saying to me that he didn’t understand why I was the only one who didn’t know how wonderful I was. He let me know I had value; that I wasn’t just a blob of fat taking up too much room on this planet. In saying that, he let me know I was worth making the effort.
Dr. Joe toppled the second stone just as skillfully. “There are new things to help you lose weight now. You can lose weight, Margie, and I can help.” Combine those two: I was worth it, and I could be successful.
It would be many months before enough stones toppled for me to decide to exercise. Longer still, before I started realizing that my pain was significantly diminishing. Years before I broke apart my poor self-image and refused to give in to my guilt and shame; before I started to like who I was. Before I could come to peace, and before I could embrace joy.
One stone made the rest tumble. Change the one right thing, and change everything.
What one thing will you change today?