My elderly friend had a bad right shoulder and it was treated in an unusual way. His therapists recommended something counterintuitive: Rather than have Wes exercise the affected shoulder, they told him to start exercising the well shoulder. He did so, and found to his delight that after a very short time of performing the prescribed motions with his left shoulder and arm, his right shoulder improved markedly.
In another example I know of, a former major league pitcher I met stumbled onto the innovative therapy unawares. Andrew had pitched for two seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks but suffered an elbow injury that eventually led to Tommy John surgery. Even with that, the right arm was not very good anymore, so Andrew wondered if he could train his left arm to throw a ball. His father told me he got his fastball up to 88 mph with his non-dominant arm. But it turns out that Andrew was also unknowingly helping his injured arm a lot too. The doctors said he had inadvertently done his whole body a world of good by exercising the well body parts.
This approach of "total motion release" (TMR) therapy was a revelation to me, as I have always heard sung the virtues of "work through the pain." And yet, somehow the story did not take me altogether by surprise. The theory seems to be that the non-involved or non-injured part of the body is, after all, connected to its opposite part and can help it "come along" by initiating the motion that the weaker counterpart will then soon be able to catch up to.
I thought of the Iditarod, that 1,150-mile endurance test in Alaska from Anchorage to Nome, and the way a dog is chosen for his intelligence and strength to lead the pack. But we need look no further than Jesus' own analogy of the two oxen yoked together to pull a plow or ox-cart: Jesus tells us that if we stay yoked with Him-not trying to be the leader but letting Him do the leading, and falling into his rhythm-we would be able to accomplish much:
"Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:29).
Improvement in our spiritual condition will happen for the same reason that Wes' right shoulder and Andrew's right arm got better-because, just as the right shoulder is connected to the left shoulder, and the right arm is connected to the left arm, you and I are connected to Jesus. There is a deep mystery here. When you are unhealthy of heart or soul, rather than continuing in the same motions that got you into that fix, why not start letting Jesus be the leader of the pack and just fall lockstep into his footprints?
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