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Sunday, 6 February 2011

choosing to lift my hands

Sometimes it hurts to lift my hands. Not necessarily from great pain or grief, although certainly there have been times when that was true. Often they are simply tired or heavy. Today my arms are physically aching, but I chose to lift them anyway.

Pondering the nature of worship, I reflected that so often we are tempted to  express ourselves in these outstretched, visible ways only when we have already received: when we are feeling.  Our praise becomes our response to that feeling.

But today I lifted my hands not because I felt like it, or even because I wanted to feel like it, but because I wanted to show my determination to worship despite my physical and mental tiredness. I chose to use my arms to praise. I chose to lift my hands.

I wanted to express a dedication within my limitations, or perhaps beyond them - to say - this is what I ascribe to, this is the person to whom I ascribe greatness, the one who does not change in spite of my vulnerability, my changing emotions, my body - which does not recover as well as I would often wish it.

Does this make my worship less heartfelt?  I do not believe so.  I do not lift my hands because I think I should, or because I want other people to notice.  I do not lift my hands to make myself look spiritual or as a reflex reaction.  I do not lift my hands as if it were a mere accompaniment to worship.  I lift my hands because I recognise the worth of the one who I follow and worship.  I want to say 'yes, you are worthy of my praise', even when my legs are wobbly and my shoulders knotty.

Sometimes it hurts to lift my hands, but I choose to anyway.


Anonymous said...

The God I know wouldn't want you to lift your hands when it hurts. He knows what's in your heart no matter what outward expression you're displaying. He understands that physical exertion gets people with CFS worse and more ill. He doesn't want that. You don't have to prove anything to him. He knows that you know his worth and greatness - you don't need to raise your hands to show him this. He values your wellbeing more than an outward expression of praise.

Jenny Eatwell said...

.... and it is quite right that you should do so. Long may you continue to be able to lift your hands - whether it be in praise, or with a cup of coffee. :)

Lucy said...

Hi Anonymous -

I appreciate what you are saying, but sometimes I want to 'lift my hands' in spite of my fatigue. I want to be able to express myself in a way that comes naturally to me. I don't mean that I would hold up my hands continually in a way that caused me problems or major physical exertion (If I want to I can lift my hands sitting down, or perhaps just hold them out in front of me) - nor do I in any way feel I have to 'prove' myself to God. Whether literally or metaphorically sometimes I need to lift my hands, as a visual reminder to myself of what I am doing. Not necessarily for long, but simply because it is part of the way I like to express myself. This is by no means the case for everyone, as we all have different ways of expressing ourselves.

I'm sorry if it came over in a negative way; that was certainly not my intention.

Eleanor Watkins said...

Thank you Lucy. Today I had wobbly legs, aching eyes, knotty shoulders, heavy arms. I felt like crawling back into bed instead of going to church. But after reading your post I chose to lift up my hands in praise and worship, I wasn't feeling it, but the Lord blessed my 'sacrifice of praise', and I'm feeling better in every way. May he wonderfully bless you!

Lucy said...

Thank you Eleanor; I have had similar experiences where my initial struggle was blessed with renewed strength.

And Jenny - I came home from church and made myself a cup of coffee :)

Angela said...

We were looking at exodus 17 this morning in church.

Do you need Aaron and Hur to come and be yur supporters??

I do not think your post came over as negative

I have watched people with knee/leg problems struggling to stand for the hymns - nobody would mind if they sat - but they themselves really feel they sometimes want to stand to praise God. Your situation is similar - and I admire your determination - and I am sure it pleases the Lord that you want to offer real worship/worth-ship . Sunday Blessings xx

Dreaming Beneath the Spires said...

Hi again, Lucy,
Dipping into and enjoying your blog.
I wish I could lift my hands in church. I feel self-conscious doing so, I wonder why.
Inside so, I am lifting my hands, and, frequently, dancing or twirling.
Writing with chronic fatigue--wow. That is amazing!!
I am glad I discovered your blog via Lesley's posts on Christian bloggers,

Lucy said...

Anita - thanks. You are very welcome here :) I'm enjoying your blog, too!

Dreaming Beneath the Spires said...

Ooh, thanks for the blog-roll add. You're on mine too. Good luck with the poetry. Reading and writing poetry is the thing I have most enjoyed doing in my entire life--followed by blogging. Sadly, blogging has squeezed out the poetry, but I am trying to regain balance!

Lucy said...

I have phases when it comes to poetry. I'm trying to re-install (?!?) the habit of actually crafting a poem at the moment, as often I'll only focus on one kind of writing at a time. I do occasionally 'blog' poems though - the more spontaneous kind!

"The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people."- Richard Foster