My Nosebleed in the Battle Against Sin

allergy-18656_640This week I shed blood in an effort to resist sin.

It’s not the glorious story you would think.

You know I love Jesus. You also know I sin. I’m not one of those people for whom Jesus is icing on the salvation cake. Nope. Without Jesus in my life, there’s no icing, there’s no cake, there’s just a whole cake platter full of stinkin’ sin.

I avoid sin, not out of fear of hell but out of love for Jesus and because I believe Him when He warns me that certain actions and attitudes have consequences I should avoid.

In my experience, avoiding sin is sometimes a simple, straightforward proposition. In adolescence, it meant staying out of barrooms and backseats. I didn’t smoke anything cursed or curse with any words that smoked. In my son’s generation, that’s called being Straight Edge. In mine, it was called being Square. Same difference.

Other sins lie buried in the landscape like undetonated mines. Sins of the heart and attitude sneak up on a person – blooming in the darkness of our private thoughts like fungus: envy, pride, greed, deception, or lust. Still other sins are challenging mostly because they’re matters of debate in the family of God. Ugh. Hate those. They wreak havoc with my inner Pharisee. That’s what I ran into this week.

I’ve been experiencing a boatload of stress. It’s taken a toll on my blood pressure and my waistline, so I’m determined to find ways to de-stress. I’m no runner. I can’t afford a gym. My doctor and others recommended yoga. An exercise one can do standing still or lying down appeals to my sedentary nature but, yoga is derived from Hindu religious practices. I knew there was some controversy over it so I googled “Christians and yoga.”

Wow. Yeah. Passionate arguments exist about the dangers of practicing yoga. My inner legalist wars with my reliance on grace so I immediately felt my muscles cramp at the complexity of the issue.

Initially, I decided practicing yoga falls in the category of Paul’s instructions about eating food offered to idols. I’m not trying to be Hindi in anyway. When I stretch, I’m not thinking about false gods, so maybe, I thought, I could just do the moves and be fine. That didn’t work because I have a tender conscience and was so sensitive that others would think I was sinning that I knew I was better off avoiding yoga.

Next, I researched Christian alternatives to yoga. Here you must understand that I have been philosophically opposed to “Christian alternatives” to any trend since back in Christian college in the eighties when our student body hosted a “Christian toga party.” Sheets draped over fully clothed students drinking non-alcoholic punch was NOT a toga party alternative. It was just pathetic. So, I didn’t hold out much hope for Christian yoga options. (coincidence that yoga rhymes with toga – I think not.)

I’m sure they’re fine, but they won’t work for me. I don’t believe in emptying my mind during a workout but when I hear Scripture quotes, I think about them– really think about them – so it’s not relaxing to be focused on Bible verses while I’m bending awkwardly. I also find it annoying to stretch to music so I get all weirded out and guilty if the music annoying me is praise music. THAT feels wrong so then I’m not relaxed, I’m guilty and stressed while still bending awkwardly.

Ugh.

Plus, I wondered why some alternative Christian yoga uses the same poses and postures. Are the forms the issue or what the instructor says or what’s going on in the practitioner’s heart and mind? I could feel my blood pressure rise but now I was determined to figure this out. This is ridiculous. The devil doesn’t own stretching, right? I mean, the body only moves so many ways. I am free in Jesus and I believe that includes the freedom to touch my toes without fear I’ve invoked a Hindu deity.

I found a 30-minute Youtube video of a normal looking woman leading a series of stretches to instrumental music that didn’t sound remotely Eastern. The woman didn’t refer to any traditional yoga poses. I found it relaxing and just challenging enough. Yes, I thought, I’ve figured it out!

Then, in the middle of the set, she modeled a stretch I know I’d seen used in yoga. Oh no, my brain, rebelled. Now what do I do? There’s no hint of Hinduism in the room. The free woman inside me urged me just to chill and do the stretch. My inner legalist freaked out and suggested I modify the pose just a bit so it would no longer resemble the yoga pose.

My inner legalist is an idiot.

The one little twist I did sent me face first into the floor. Yup, a face plant hard enough to draw blood. And my stupid inner legalist rejoiced as she quoted Hebrews 12:4 to me “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”

“You’ve done it!” she exclaimed. “Stifle it,” I responded as I stuck a tissue up my nose and mopped up the floor. Then, I sent my inner legalist to time out.

Sitting there, I heard another voice, one I’m sure was inspired by the Holy Spirit, saying, “Seriously, Lori, you aren’t physically gifted in any way. Don’t improvise. You’ll kill yourself stretching.” I flashed on a headstone that reads, “Here lies Lori Roeleveld. Death by legalism.”

I’m trusting you, loved ones, with the embarrassment of this struggle. Sometimes I have my head together and other times, I’m doing a face plant. Do any of you end up twisted in knots trying to deal with a disputable issue? I can’t be the only one. Our love for Jesus and our desire to avoid sin leads us into some crazy contortions, doesn’t it? Sometimes it isn’t pretty.

But Jesus’ blood is the only blood that ever needs to be shed to cover my sin, of this I am sure. I will continue to pursue an outlet for stress but from now on, I think I’ll keep my face off the floor while I’m stretching my muscles and my faith.

 I’d love to hear how you’ve wrestled with a debatable issue. Leave me a comment or two about your experiences.

I’d rather you didn’t leave me arguments for or against yoga – I’ve googled about thirty different articles – I think I’m up to speed, but if you must, just send me an email through my contact page.

Have ideas for me on how ways to cope with intense work and life stress? You know, other than stress eating which is totally not working for me and will likely end up in a series of posts on gluttony! PLEASE, send me your stress-relieving suggestions (please leave out ideas related to taking a bath – that was my old coping mechanism but in our fixer upper, the bathtub is way down on my husband’s to-do list.)

Big announcement coming up on the weekend, loved ones! Can’t wait. Here’s to safe travels, great adventures, and keeping your faces off the floor except for prayer! In the meantime, check out the winners of my September Giveaway! Each one will receive one of the books listed in the giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!


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27 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Wendy Percoco says:

    Hah! You made me laugh. We are definitely Sisters my friend…I can relate.
    Here’s mine:
    Last winter as I was sitting before a nice toasty fireplace I came across a link that a Christian brother had sent about a woman’s powerful testimony of being saved out of some very creepy New Agey beliefs, and how she had ultimately destroyed all the satanic idols in her house. Inspired, I looked around and realized I still had in my own possession a number of similar satanic things, such as books, paintings, other chachka…
    Having a nice toasty fire going I naturally started collecting the books and tossing them into the flames, and yes, the flames soon enough shot up into the chimney causing quite a chimney fire. One of my neighbors evidently called the Fire Dept. and soon I had literally a dozen firemen in my house. ” oh, I just threw some papers in” I equivocated, embarrassed that my little private book burning ceremony had turned into a neighborhood event.
    Making matters even MORE evident ( what is done in darkness shall be brought to light after all!), I spent the next few days collecting charred bits of pages which had flown up the chimney and disseminated into the neighborhood.
    Oy, note to others – just toss the stupid satanic idols…

  2. Sharon Johnson says:

    I met Jesus over 40 years ago and have done battle with these same issues. I’ve come to this conclusion: satan owns nothing. The world and everything in it belongs to the Lord. As a Christian I am free to take back from satan anything he thinks is his and restore it to it’s rightful Owner. It is my pleasure to do so. But I believe you must take each issue to prayer and act according to the light He gives you. As Paul said what is ok for one is sin for another. And we must not judge one another on these issues.
    As far as exercise goes, I have severe arthritis, so I can sympathize with not being able to be active enough (and the stress eating!!). A couple of ideas: chair exercises, walking (in the woods on soft ground and using that time also for prayer), bike riding. Some insurance plans will pay for gym memberships. Swimming. I will pray for you!! 🙂

  3. Pamela Johnson says:

    Loved the blog I’m from the south and dancing was always an issue, my husband and I battled over my daughter and ballet, my husband won. But I hope if my soon to be grandaughter wants to learn ballet she will be able to. I walk a lot each day to deal with stress and for really great exercise. Blessings!

  4. Jan says:

    I trust GOD, I love GOD….. I will never not (as far as my current heart & brain feels – don’t ever want to give in to senility).
    I let HIM down so often…WAIT! I let myself down, as to what I believe HE expects from me but I do not want to assume leniency on HIS part so I continue to feel I am letting HIM down. Oy Vey!
    So about 2 years ago we bought some property in AZ with plans to move ASAP from WA…. I tell everyone (including myself) over and over… “If it be HIS will and in HIS timing” but slowly move forward to the move until my hubby gives his notice then speed it up all the while fighting with this scripture on my heart:
    James 4:13-17 (NKJV)
    Do Not Boast About Tomorrow
    13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will[a] go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” 16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
    17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
    This makes me wonder about myself and am I even listening to HIM or satan or simply myself….Am I going to fall flat on my face? After all, my husband does not share my need to be in GOD’s will so what am I doing?

    There are many other circumstances that I can oh soooo relate to your “yoga” situation….

    I truly appreciate your writings and your mind and heart… I look forward to dancing together with you in worship to our Savior when we all get home.

    meanwhile…. protect that nose 🙂

  5. Betsy Ryan says:

    Re: stress – By listening to instrumental music, and allowing myself time to find a most relaxing spot, I find that stress has no place in an environment like that. It’s easier to hear God’s still voice, and He has the opportunity to remind me of what His peace is like. Sometimes, I even sit at my keyboard and just ‘noodle’ along quietly.
    Re: legalism – as someone who is more about allowing God ‘outta the box’, and be free in Him, I have learned to see it for what it is and not get offended by what others don’t know yet. They need loving direction (my understanding); a fresh revelation of God’s word (by sharing testimonies & insight) and focused prayer (led by Holy Spirit). No examples are coming to mind, but maybe that’s for a later post…

  6. Betsy Ryan says:

    Sorry about the nosebleed!

  7. Laura says:

    Lori,
    I love your down-to-earth honest appraisal of yourself and your stumblings and bumblings!! We can all relate to you! I tried to do Pilates and couldn’t for the life of me figure out the ‘tuck your tummy and imagine it moving toward your spine.’ The instructions were beyond me. Now I water jog to recover from a fall off a curb. I have to laugh at my crazy falls–I fell backwards into the bathtub and then forward into my closet!! My co-workers get their injuries from para sailing and running. I just fall over (~: I made copies couple of your posts and sent them to a friend in Columbia. You’re a breath of fresh air daily! Thanks for speaking the truth, dear sister!! LG

    • Best ideas on “ways to cope with intense work and life stress”?

      Well, it may sound simplistic, or even ‘religious,’ but there’s no better advice than that of the Master through Paul: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.
      Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Php 4:6-7, NLT)

      No better advice than daily prayer and communion! And, the best part is, IT WORKS! 🙂

      He should know…

    • Pilates is an idea. Thanks!

  8. Karen says:

    I understand high-stress, emotionally draining jobs. I am not fancy – my stress-reliever is Jesus. I make time each morning and evening to just be with Him. We might laugh, we might cry; we might go to war for others or I might watch Him go to battle for me. I HAVE to have this time to be any kind of effective for anybody. When you spend your time pouring out into others, you need to make sure you’re staying connected to the One you’re pouring out 🙂
    Of course I have coffee with friends, take long, hot showers and dream of my own whirlpool tub. And exercise is something I am hoping to add soon. But for me, that time with Jesus has to come first. Heidi Baker is famous for saying, “Fruitfulness flows from intimacy.” He’s proved it over and over in my life. It doesn’t mean I don’t still feel the strain sometimes; but when we’ve had our time, I am able to go to bed each night with peace and wake with fresh hope and joy!
    This may be too obvious, but it’s what works in my life 🙂 The fruit that flows from it (and the lack when I don’t! ) is proof enough for me!

  9. Laurie says:

    My husband is wondering what I’m laughing so hysterically about.

    I’m laughing WITH you Lori because I’ve so been there. Even with the yoga thing, though I didn’t get a nosebleed I did look rather ridiculous and can’t stand on one foot to save my life. I probably reasoned with myself for 5 years before I actually tried it. Several concerned friends offered videos and books on the dangers involved…no one said anything about the physical dangers, just the spiritual. 🙂

    We didn’t do a Christmas tree for years. Thought it was pagan. And truly I do still question it as well as the whole holiday question. But Hubster and I came to the conclusion a couple of years ago, much as you did with God making your body able to do all kinds of stretches, that He made the silly tree. False religion doesn’t own it. Some years we’ll have one…some years we won’t. One of our grown kids has chosen to have one and one has decided not to. We decided it just doesn’t matter much. What DOES matter is are we loving God and are we loving people. Seems like a lot of the time we thought it was so all-important how we viewed Christmas and all the accompaniments we did not love people very much at all. And I think that grieved God much more than whether my body is tied up in pretzels or we pull some of His creation into our living room once a year.

    Thank you for each and every one of your posts, Lori! I need people like you to show me the shallowness of my thinking and to recognize the lies I have believed.

    • Thanks, Laurie. I’m glad I made you laugh.

      • Carla says:

        Won’t go into the yoga thing other than to say I felt the same. AND, if we feel it’s sin, it’s sin. I have struggled for YEARS with the rigid legalism of our denomination. You can’t drink, can’t smoke, can’t dance, can’t go to movies, can’t wear short skirts, can’t wear jewelry, can’t wear make-up—yada yada yada. The sweet little old church ladies that came in looking sufficiently plain looking would, after church, run home and get on the party line (yes, I am dating myself) and listen for the latest gossip. Is THIS relationship? DID this outside show do ANYTHING for the heart? NOPE.

        I am somewhat of a church rebel. I don’t believe in cleaning up the outside of the cup and leaving the inside wit nasty stains. I believe if you put Jesus on the inside and live our lives according to the Spirit’s writings through Paul, Peter, Luke, John, our relationship will develop into one that if we ARE doing something that hurts us and hurts the Spirit, He will reveal it to us.

        God bless, Lori, good stuff.

  10. Laurie says:

    Exactly!

  11. Terri Gordon says:

    Lori: I laughed so hard, because I too suffer from work stress and the inner legalist. I am working on this by pairing up the two. I have a dear friend who leads an informal workout in her basement. No yoga, just evil things like crunches, planks, lunges and the like. She texts me and other stressed friends each morning to join her. Being such a legalist, I can’t lie to her and find an excuse. I quickly commit and then grudgingly I have to go. You know I gotta be someone of my word. I make it about 3 times a week. Your posts are so rich, thank you.

  12. Maxine D says:

    Thank you for the smiles Lori – and I do hope your nose and the floor have recovered.
    I walk to escape (ooops, relieve) stress, and pray, both walking and not walking, especially as I go to sleep. Worship music in the house also helps, as who can stress as they sing?
    As for yoga – hmmmm – we were told the ‘same’ (i.e. it is inherently bad) about chiropractic treatments, osteopathy, and homoeopathic medicines……..
    Blessings
    Maxine

  13. Tammy Smith says:

    I hate the word ‘legalism’ because it’s so overused.I happen to wear long Colonial dresses.Why? Because I love sewing,I love the Colonial period and most of all? I seriously question who is it that dictates our wardrobe choices each year? The problem that arises for me with this,is how people will start conversations with me and inject somewhere in the conversation,the ‘legalistic’ word.A relationship with Jesus means it’s personal,it’s intimate and Jesus knows what things will take me further away from Him.I used to wear the most modern,hip and I might add,not covering enough skin,in my youthful days.I wanted to get the attention of men,and yes,I was married at the time of that sinful mindset.As I grow in Jesus,I grow in my relationships with my husband,only wanting his attention now,being careful to cover my daughters so they won’t fall into the same pit as I did.I don’t look around and judge other women on how they dress.That’s between them and Jesus.But I have noticed that just wearing what I choose to wear,people feel judged.I don’t have to say anything at all,and I wonder….is it judgement from others we are feeling,or is it the Holy Spirit speaking in that powerful whisper of His? Just a thought.Oh yeah,as for de-stressing? I love to just get out and walk.To make note of the sounds of birds and children’s laughter and sprinklers going in my neighbors yard and the sound of my own breathing.

  14. Holly says:

    Oh too funny! I could have written this post (except for the face plant part). You took the words right out of my mouth! I have found Leslie Sansone’s Walk Away the Pounds workouts to be great. She has easy beginner ones for lazy days and more intense ones for the days I really want to workout. So glad to know I am not alone in my thought processes!!!

  15. Tina says:

    Lori! I had wondered why your blog posts weren’t showing up in my Feedly . . . until I read the blogpost that said you’d moved! Now your new URL is in my Feedly and I can read you again.