Adventures in Dexterity

I remember once asking a friend who worked as a flight attendant if she ever felt like a waitress on the airplane. (These were the days before restaurant employees were called “servers” or “wait staff.”) She was a little offended by my simplistic take on her work and she said something like this: “Yeah, I guess I’m a waitress who can open the emergency door of a 747 upside down under water.” Got it.

Post-shoulder surgery, I have become a master of using only my non-dominant arm.  I use my feet, my good shoulder, my lap and my forehead to do all kinds of things that my right arm used to do.  I’m feeling very dexterous these days.  And – because of modern medicine – I’ll actually get to use my right arm again eventually. (Please stop what you are doing this second and thank God for physical therapists and occupational therapists.)

These days demand extreme dexterity.

  • Parents are bouncing toddlers on their knees while taking Zoom calls.
  • Teachers are creating lessons that keep students interested while also juggling lessons for their own children at home.
  • Church leaders are generating a constellation of options for worship and educational offerings.
  • Hospitals have established innovative ways to treat patients while protecting their own safety.

21st Century Church leaders have been encouraging The Church to be nimble, adaptive, and innovative for decades now.  Leave it to COVID-19 to force us into pastoral dexterity.

The thing is: pastoral dexterity is exhausting.  It’s harder to work out in stilletos than in sneakers.  Seriously, there are fitness classes that encourage participants to exercise in heels.  It’s a tougher workout AND it’s also dangerous.  Wearing high heels in general increases the chances of straining muscles, so imagine what could happen if we wear stilletos to wash the car or rake leaves.

I am not thrilled with the reality that I need someone to cut my food for the next several months any more than I want to learn how to sleep in new positions.  But this is life and – whether we like it or not – this is Church.

Question to discuss in your church leadership meeting:  Where in our ministry are we rheumatic as a congregation (either we can’t move or it hurts to try) and where are we Simone Biles?

Most of our congregations cannot do the spiritual equivalent of this.  But we can do better.

What intimidates us as a congregation?  Have we forgotten that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us?  It’s a real thing.

Image of Heel Hop class in 2013.

2 responses to “Adventures in Dexterity

  1. I am concerned for congregations who want to get back to the “old way” of doing church, including my own.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Jan, I don’t literally feel your pain. I just have a broken left arm. But I resonate with what you wrote and hope your recovery is speedy. Occupational therapists are indeed great!
    One handed phone use tip: I use the tip of my nose to text or swipe.
    Even so, I’m irritated at the medical folk expecting me to use a phone one handed to respond to surveys, texts, and check in. Standing outside a door and calling one handed to be asked covid questions then let in is a real challenge.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.