Slouching Efforts

Yesterday, I attended the school play for my middle daughter. My husband attended our eldest daughter’s performance and they rushed home after a flurry of frenzied texts about the delay in the dismissal of the previous session. Dad and I made a mad dash of a switch as he hopped off, I hopped on and pedaled off with a different kid on back.

When I arrived, I keyed the code to get into the school grounds and as staff saw us, they ran to meet us, check temperatures, sanitize us and rush us off to our respective locations.

It was pretty amusing see my daughter whisked off by staff, switching her outdoor shoes for her indoor ones, taking her school hat and getting her ready. Meanwhile, I ran up the stairs and was guided to my marked square on the tatami floor of the school hall.

I sat down, took my coat off and tried to get comfortable, giving into the temptation to sit cross-legged on the mat. Very unladylike.

But as I sat, waiting for my daughter’s 3 and 4 year old class to come on stage, I noticed with customary envy how the women can all kneel so prettily and keep their backs ramrod straight for the entire time.

The other acceptable position for a woman is off-kilter, like you just tipped over the side of your legs while kneeling. The legs are still tucked under, and though the hips are at an angle, still somehow these women stay straight up without leaning on their hands.

It’s so pretty, and try as I might, I cannot pull it off for very long. My legs fall asleep, I fidget around after 15 minutes or so, and overall, I feel like I sit significantly higher than them since I have wider legs than they do.

At any rate, I saw the rows of straight backs and thought to myself, “There we go. Though I’m a bit late, it’s a good New Years Resolution in the health department: Good posture.”

My back aches, and it’s the proverbial January 2 today and I’m still trying to be careful to correct my body whenever my shoulders slouch forward, etc. I don’t want to end up an old lady, in pain and unable to walk upright. That requires action now.

Anyway, last night as I was laying in bed, enjoying the relaxing of tired muscles, I was thinking about the various bits and pieces that we need translated into Japanese for our website and in the general running of our ministry. Honestly, thinking about doing it myself made my head ache in a way that I instantly found a “pair” with in with my weary back.

Nonetheless, it needs to be done. I could take the easier road and ask someone to do it for me. But if I am ever to do “well”, I must make the effort though I know I will fall drastically short of my desired standard when I get it edited by a native speaker. Sometimes I wonder why I make the effort, as so many of my word choices or particle choices are exchanged for better ones. This is not to be unexpected, this is normal. We have to learn this way. And I can only make progress if I make myself dredge through it.

But, I think this kind of attitude MUST be with those who go on the field, from the very elementary task of language proficiency to the more “advanced” tasks of effective cross-cultural ministry. It’s wearying, it’s a joy (ok…. sometimes), it’s daily and constant, all-engulfing, and ultimately a privilege I see this attitude in several of those I have worked with or am acquainted with or even read about. It’s that sighing and yet, still pushing of yourself in an area (in ministry and in their personal lives– I think it often shows up in both arenas), that tightening of slouching muscles– to do things rightly. To do well. Maybe not perfect, but better than it has been… closer to the goal. Discipline. Excellence. Vision for the end game.

Because, God is worthy of my effort, and my utmost efforts reflect my perspective of the worthiness of God and the task He’s given me.