I’ve Got Your Back

by | Dec 23, 2013 | Uncategorized


I never fully comprehended the statement, “I’ve got your back” until I married H. Before I met him, I carried the weight of the world on my shoulders, well, in my lower back to be more specific.

At sixteen, I boarded a Greyhound bus holding a giant teddy bear and my suitcase to sit among strangers through several states. With hands trembling, I looked out the smudged window and memorized the landscape like the still frame of a favorite movie I didn’t want to forget. I would never return to the place where I learned to make my own decisions when my parents were emotionally absent.

The contents of my Charlie Brown lunch box, filling in the blank lines of college applications, the moment I said yes to Jesus, signing my name on a car title, my wedding dress – they were all my own decisions even when I didn’t fully trust myself. Or were they?

It’ll all work out. It’s the response I’ve received since childhood from my father when communicating my neediness. It reinforces the weight I am to carry by myself. Or does it?

Today, when something new presents itself requiring me to ramp up my ability and decisiveness, I hold all the fear of uncertainty as if the whole world is dependent upon my reaction. Like that teenage girl on a bus headed to a new place full of chance, I carry the fear of the unknown in my back until the heaviness breaks me.

And the outcome is a gift.

Yes, lying on ice packs at Christmas is a gift.

In the past, whenever this happened I wanted to cuss and throw a fit. How dare you interrupt my life like this, I have things to do, I would chant.

Now when my back {occasionally} goes out and H helps lift me from the couch and toilet, I thank God for it. I know that sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

That broken place I return to is a beacon for the stormy black seas of my inner dialogue that crucify Jesus. It’s a reminder that I have trusted in my image of God instead of the Truth.

His shed blood is enough for every circumstance.

Incapacitated, the mysterious fog between my expectations and reality seem to vanish in an instant. As shoulders slump in surrender, the entire burden I assumed was mine to balance, falls into a meaningless heap. And the countenance of what is seated around me becomes clearer.

It’s imperative, this awakening to the reduction of Jesus into our image instead of the God who speaks from a burning bush. A relationship isn’t possible with an image, and Jesus is personal. A person who is jealous for your attention and always has your back.

You are never alone in your decisions, your experiences, your fears, failures, and successes. That’s why we can say, Merry Christmas and mean it. Even while memorizing the ceiling instead of wrapping presents.

Let go of the dark, which you wrap yourself in like a straitjacket, and let in the light. Stop trying to protect, to rescue, to judge, to manage the lives around you–our children’s lives, the lives of your husband, your wife, your friends–because that is just what you are powerless to do. Remember that the lives of other people are not  your business. They are their business. They are God’s business because they all have God whether they use the word God or not. Even your own life is not your your business. It also is God’s business. Leave it to God. It is an astonishing thought. It can become a life-transforming thought. ~Frederick Buechner, Listening to Your Life

Linking with Laura, Michelle, Jennifer, Emily and Lyli.

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  1. Glenda Childers

    I am so sorry for the pain and aloneness of your childhood. I am glad you have a sweet husband and a Heavenly Father, that has your back. You are adorable. Rest well and mend quickly. (But don’t tell anyone … they can still do the dishes.)


    • Shelly Miller

      Mums the word Glenda. I won’t tell if you don’t. Merry Christmas to you!

  2. HisFireFly

    rest in the sweet peace of His embrace, my friend
    He’s got you

  3. Susan Rinehart Stilwell

    So sorry to hear you’ve been sidelined, Shelly. But some of my dearest lessons and best memories are from my sidelined Christmases.
    Praying this is your most memorable Christmas yet.

    • Shelly Miller

      Mine too Susan, learning to lean into knowing he uses all of it to speak to us. Thank you for your prayers. I hope you two moms are doing better since we connected last.

  4. Jody Ohlsen Collins

    Shelly………your words, via Jesus, well, they just make my heart burst sometimes. You will have a Christmas to remember, as God continues to write his redeeming story over and over again through you. Your history is His mystery to uncover and restore.
    (Sure wish I could bring you a casserole in person and hug your neck. ‘Cause I sure would……..)

    • Shelly Miller

      I know you would Jody, you are so dear to me. Thank you for your kindness.

  5. Carolyn Counterman

    I remember the first time somebody told me that the people around me weren’t my business. How shocking! I’m sorry, Shelly, if you are in any pain from your back, but I am glad that you are having a good experience with God through all of this. Merry Christmas!

    • Shelly Miller

      I think we are to be neighbors to people by serving them but there are boundaries we can cross in thinking their situation is in our control somehow, that is what he is talking about here Carolyn. Merry Christmas friend!

  6. Louise Hughes

    Shelly, I am so sorry to hear about your back. I do pray that the Lord would bless you with the sweetness of His presence and that He would heal your back in Jesus Name. Love and Blessings, Louise

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you Louise. It was great seeing you in person last week. Hope to do more of that in the New Year. Sending lots of love to you.

  7. Laura Rath

    Hi Shelly,
    Although I rarely like it at the time it’s happening, I know God sometimes has to take me to my knees, or flat on my back (I’ve had the same happen to me) to get my attention. I haven’t put this in writing (till now) but I’m pretty sure God has given me my One Word for 2014 – Let Go. It scares me and at the same time, I know He’s teaching me to release certain things to Him. And, now that I’ve had the words for a few days…I’m less scared, and, I think, ready to let go.

    Merry Christmas!

    • Shelly Miller

      Lovely to see you here Laura and yes, my back going out is often a means of getting my attention, of listening to my life so I can hear the One who gave me life more clearly. Hope you had a Merry Christmas!

  8. DeanneMoore

    We sang a song at the country song where I teethed on Jesus that said, “no never alone, no never alone, He promised never to leave us, never to leave us alone..” It was in the shape-note hymnal and I can remember the word “alone” being sung strung out with three long “O” sounds, falling off like a train whistle. There are times we learn when we stumble through thinking we are all independent and choosing…when maybe they weren’t choices but opportunities set before us. Love you. Hate that your back is hurting. I don’t know that kind back injury. I do know that looking to the left is painful right now after weeks of carrying around a weight of my own. Thankful you see the possibilities here and are able to help us to leave it to God.

    • Shelly Miller

      Independent and choosing . . . those are the words that stick out in your comment for me Dea. I think when I think its all up to me, that is when I do myself in. And then I’m thankful for the back ache that helps me realize that I have a Saviour who orders my days.

  9. bluecottonmemory

    The more I give it to Him – the schedule, the boys, the budget – the dream, the lack of tidiness in the house – yes – that burden drops off – and in the dropping is usually when peace starts – and all my hearts desires work themselves out.
    Hoping your back is better – that you have a joyful Christmas! Merry Merry Christmas!

    • Shelly Miller

      Yes, I agree, the dropping is where the peace starts. For me, that is Sabbath.

  10. ro elliott

    We “talked” of this before…these men God gave us…so we could see what His love looks like…I pray your back recovers quickly…blessings and Have a very Merry Christmas!!!!

    • Shelly Miller

      I know, I can’t say it enough, “I am a blessed woman.” Glad you are to Ro. Hope you’ve had a good Christmas with your family.

  11. soulstops

    So glad your husband is there to be the arms of Jesus lovingly helping you…praying you feel better soon….thanks for sharing the Buechner quote…what a liberating thought…Merry Christmas 🙂

    • Shelly Miller

      I love Buechner Dolly. Every time I read him I’m inspired. Merry Christmas to you too, hope you are enjoying the rest and lack of routine.

  12. pastordt

    I love the through line of this piece, Shelly: that need to control outcomes, for ourselves, those we love, the world around us can SO get in the way of truly being attentive to Jesus and hearing his voice of love and peace. Go ahead, ask me how I know!! Praying the spasms stop in time for you to be up and enjoying your beautiful family, friend. Merry Christmas!

    • Shelly Miller

      I’m back to normal Diana, thank you. God is so faithful to discipline me when I try to take His place. It’s humbling and needful. Hope you’ve had a wonderful Christmas. And yes, I know you get this. I’m thankful you do.

  13. Laura Boggess

    Oh, beautiful friend, I pray you are feeling better by this writing. Your friendship has been one of my greatest blessings this past year! Merry Christmas, Shelly. Much love to you.

    • Shelly Miller

      Right back atcha Laura, so grateful for your friendship. Love to you too. Hope you are enjoying the time off with family.

  14. Being Woven

    Oh, my! Shelly, this is powerful for me. I am sorry about you back as I know bum backs, but God does use all…ALL…things for good and for His purposes in our lives. Oh, that I allow Him to do just that! This has spoken to me dearly and am so grateful that you are a neighbor @ “Thought-Provoking Thursday.”
    Humbly, ~ linda

    • Shelly Miller

      Linda, I’m both humbled and grateful for your comment. Thanking God for providence in link-ups. 🙂

  15. Lyli Dunbar

    Shelly, I read your post from the confines of my couch. My husband has grounded me. I use a prosthetic limb to walk, and I have quite a sore right now that requires me to stop and rest and heal. No walking for me. — So now, I have my ears perked up… and I’m listening…. instead of pouting (which is my natural reaction when I get sidelined). Thanks for showing me the way.

    Praying you are back up and running around soon. Hugs

    • Shelly Miller

      I’m much better thank you Lyli. And I’m quite humbled and inspired by your comment. I didn’t realize this about you. You are quit a woman, ya know that? And I’m thankful you have a husband who loves you like that. What a gift!

      • Lyli Dunbar

        So glad to hear that, Shelly! You are too sweet. It’s from a birth defect — so this has always been “my normal.” My heart goes out to folks who are amputees — that requires a great deal of courage in the midst of crisis.

        From your post, I am sensing that we both married very well… my husband out serves me every day.

        I actually wrote a post a few weeks ago for Missional Women that tells a little of my birth story… and ironically tonight I noticed that it finally went live on the web earlier today.

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