Posture has Purpose
I went to a new doctor yesterday. I’ve had back and neck problems all my life. Structurally my back is good, but I’m in constant pain—something I’ve just learned to ignore and live with, sadly. To a point, anyway. And then I give in and go see someone, hoping for some relief and that I can get back to an acceptable pain level. (Which really is kind of twisted thinking, but...that’s the truth of it all.)
One thing I have learned to do with my health issues is to begin to ask the Lord to speak to me through them. To let them be parables of His Kingdom. God’s SO amazing like that—everything He has created teaches us, speaks to us, reveals to us things about His nature and His Kingdom, if only we have ears to hear and eyes to see.
As the new doctor was telling me his perspective on things, I was wanting to grab a video camera and let it roll... because he was preaching a sermon on many deeper levels than he actually intended. (He just posted some videos on his Instagram account: primalwalk !)
He has a passion for posture, and for helping people walk with the right posture. I thought my posture was pretty OK. I’m an athlete and I’m strong and I keep my shoulders back... I thought I was pretty good. Wrong. He began to show me how, because I walk incorrectly, my posture is affected negatively. Because my posture is wrong, my body is having to compensate and those compensations are why I have pain and inflexibility.
It was like magic. He started explaining how being on my heels was wrong. I should be on my toes. He started explaining history and how our walk and our posture has shifted in the past hundred years. (It was a little like when Jesus would teach and suddenly people would see all the Bible, all of time, through a new lens.) It was fascinating, but what really sold me was when he had me demonstrate. He would have me hold my arm out to the side and try to resist him pushing it down. When I was on my heels, my resistance was minimal. When I was on my toes, my strength was multiplied, miraculously, it would seem. I like strength, so that really spoke to me.
Of course, he could explain the reasons why. He explained how being on our toes activates our connective tissues and strengthens them. He had me do some things with a kettle ball. The higher I got on my toes, the stronger I became. Craziness! So now, I’m changing my walk. I’m learning how to walk on my toes, rather than on my heels. It’s a little awkward, and even exhausting. I’m using my muscles in a way that is new to me. I’m literally having to think about how I walk, which, as my Dr. pointed out, is good, because it means I’m living in the present, rather thinking about all sorts of things that aren't doing me any good. AND, it means I’m not walking with my head in my screen. My walk is now exercising my muscles, strengthening my body at a new level. Instead of making time to go to the gym for a work out, suddenly working out is a part of everything I do. And everything I do (or much more so, anyway) is working towards strengthening my body.
Hopefully one day I can get him to do a video and share more—because it really is profound on so many levels. But for now, I want to focus on some applications.
- Posture has purpose. He is right about that. I remember reading in C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters a passage about the connection between our minds and our bodies—the psychosomatic union. A demon is teaching his young nephew how to be a good guardian demon, and gives him this advice: “At the very least, they can be persuaded that the bodily position makes no difference to their prayers; for they constantly forget, what you must always remember, that they are animals and that whatever their bodies do affects their souls.” One of Satan’s big lies to us is to tell us that posture doesn’t matter. It does. How we posture our bodies before the Lord will affect how our souls are postured before the Lord. This is where the Catholics and Charismatics have an edge on Evangelicals as a whole – they practice an intentional posturing of their bodies in prayer and worship. It’s awkward for me to raise my hands in worship—I’m not a very demonstrative sort. And it’s annoying (and even painful) at times for me to kneel in prayer, when I would much rather pray from the comforts of my bed. But when I do, when I risk feeling exposed and give up feeling comfortable, I find that my prayers and my worship have a different timbre, a different strength.
- Your strength is affected by your posture. Just as a change in physical posture affects physical strength, a change in spiritual posture affects our spiritual strength. God calls us to be humble, dependent, yielded and surrendered. It is in that position of seeming weakness in which His strength is perfected. I love what Deuteronomy 30 says:
See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
If we want to be strong, we must learn to have the right posture before the Lord.
- If we are feeling weak, the solution is not necessarily working out and getting stronger. That has been my solution for too long—when I was feeling weak, I increased my workouts. Seems logical. But strength wasn’t my problem—posture was. So to try to get stronger in the wrong posture was causing more pain. In order to sustain the physical demands I placed on my body without the right posture, my body had to put some artificial supports in place. Those supports may have sufficed as a temporary fix, but they have had long-term negative consequences...and are excruciatingly painful to remove. You see, it’s not good to fix a problem with a wrong solution.
When we are feeling weak in life, our tendency (maybe more so in the Western world) is to get stronger. We focus on self-help through books (which aren’t all bad...don’t hear me wrong) and seminars and motivational quotes. We work harder. We push through. We pride ourselves on pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. And frankly, it may work for a time. We may fix the problem of our weakness—at least for a while. The problem is, we are doing so in the wrong posture and that means we are filling our lives with temporary supports to sustain the added strain of our efforts and those temporary supports are doing us more harm than good. They make us inflexible. They make us proud. They make is independent and often isolated. And those supports are painful to remove because our souls were never intended to be supported by such.
The Bible says that God has already “given us ALL things we need for life and godliness...through His promises” (2 Peter 1:3-11, emphasis added). So, when we are feeling we that something is lacking, the solution isn’t to go creating it, but to discover it. We need to go back to our posture and correct that. We don’t need to work out more; we don’t need to add anything, we need to correct what’s broken, fix what we’re doing wrong. We need to repent. We need to humble ourselves before the Lord and pray and wait on Him. The Bible says it this way, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and then all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33, emphasis added). In other words, when you feel something is missing, the solution isn’t to go and get it for yourself, but to reexamine your posture and pursuits. When your posture is right, when you are seeking the right things, everything else will come into alignment and into being.
- Posture comes through learning how to walk, rightly. In order to correct my posture, I have to learn how to walk well, correctly. When I do that, my posture will correct itself in every area of my life. Posture IS walking. Walking IS posture. Have you ever notice Psalm 1? It starts with walking.
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
Everything starts with how we walk. The Bible is full of verses about walking... here are just a few:
- 2 Corinthians 5:7 “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”
- Deuteronomy 5:33 “You shall walk in all the ways that the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess.”
- Micah 6:8 “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
- Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
- Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
- Psalm 119:133 “Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.”
- Colossians 2:6 “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him.”
Romans 13:13 “Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.”
- Galatians 5:16 “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”
5. Correct posture strengthens us. I already mentioned that our strength is affected by our posture, but it’s more than that, too. The good doctor was explaining that not only is there an immediate change in my strength when my posture is correct, but there is also an on-going strengthening that happens when I practice good posture. My connective tissues will be activated and strengthened by my good posture. Conversely, they will be weakened and diminished by bad posture. Not only are we stronger when our posture is correct, but we are also strengthened, ongoing. The more we practice right posture before the Lord, the easier it gets to maintain, the stronger we get, the more natural it is. Perhaps this is part of the reason why the Bible says, “Resist the devil and he will flee” (James 4:7). The more we resist, (which is part of a right spiritual posture), the stronger we get until he is actually scared of our strength and runs from us.
6. Correct posture takes exercise from a some-time thing to an all-time thing. Exercise was something I did at a specific time in the day at the gym, just like for many people, their relationship with God is something they do on Sundays at church. He explained, however, that when your posture is correct, exercise becomes an ongoing act. It’s no longer something you do at a time and place but something you are always doing everywhere you go.
This is what God had in mind for our relationship with Him. He didn’t intend it to be something we did on Sundays or in a Bible study, but rather a way of living. It’s who we are, all the time, everywhere. When we focus on having a right walk with the Lord throughout the day, in every step we take, we are exercising our faith ALL the time. We begin to think about God when we are in the store, in a conversation, at the movies, etc. We become like Jesus who said that “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. (John 5:19-20). And again, “For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say” (John 12:49-50). We get to the point that exercising our faith, walking with the Father, becomes such a pervasive, all-encompassing, on-going action that we literally don’t do anything but that it’s in sync with God’s heart and will.
7. Until good posture becomes a habit, (and even then), it’s good to surround yourself with reminders. Patients were complaining that they kept forgetting to walk on their toes. They kept slipping into bad, lazy habits. So the doctor created a wristband as a daily reminder (see the picture). God told his people to do the same. They were to write the law on their doors, so that they would see it going out and coming in. They were to memorize it. They were to incorporate reminders into their dress and even their hair...everything around them was to be a reminder of the posture they were supposed to walk in. We would do well to follow suit, to surround ourselves with triggers and reminders lest we get lazy or forget.
8. Correct posture takes work. I would love to say this all comes naturally, but it doesn’t. This is why we need reminders. The doctor told me of countless patients who do really well at first. They are thinking about it, changing things, focused...and they see a lot of improvement. But then, after a while, they start to forget. They think they’re doing good in that area (and they are) so they relax their focus, assuming it’s automatic now. That’s when their problems start to resurface and they find themselves back in the doctor’s office, needing a tune up. Needing to sharpen their focus, to get back on their toes.
We are no different spiritually. It’s not easy to keep humble before the Lord. It’s not easy to stay on your knees, to keep from sin, to have a righteous heart. But we make some progress at it through disciplines of the faith, through prayer and the Holy Spirit’s help and we start to feel better about ourselves. We start to be healthy. And that’s when we’re tempted to relax. We aren’t feeling the pain of bad posture anymore, so we think we’ve arrived...until, a little while down the road, we notice some familiar pain coming back into our walk and our life. This is why Paul writes to the Corinthians “be careful if you think you are standing firm, lest you should fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). We are most in danger when we think we’re good...because that’s when we get lazy, when we stop thinking about our posture. So a little pain comes back into our life and then we go back to the Great Physician and he reminds us the importance of our posture, and shows us where we have gotten off.
 Actually, he’s not technically a “doctor”. He’s an acupuncturist. I still call him a Dr.
If you would like to contact Greg Shim, the "doctor" I have mentioned, you may reach him at: www.primalwalk.com or 720-201-8063. Additionally, he has some videos on his "primalwalk" Instagram account that will explain more about the way to walk. You may purchase his book via his website.