My middle name is Grace. It says so on my birth certificate. I was named after my grandmother, who was a graceful and gracious woman. But no matter how hard I tried, there was nothing graceful about me for the first forty-six years of my life.
I was the awkward child, the one always picked last for team games at recess, the one who tripped over her own feet and fell off a skateboard, even while sitting on it. I missed the A honor roll because I couldn’t do a cartwheel in P.E., and Grandpa’s hammock wrestled me to the ground, no matter how hard I tried to balance. Do people actually relax in those contraptions?
Part of my gracelessness came from having serious eye troubles from the age of three. I had one of the first cornea transplants and for years wore an eye patch for “lazy eye.” My depth perception was confused from a tender age. No wonder I couldn’t catch a ball, and tennis and ping pong were impossible for me.
The continual awkwardness contributed to an “ugly duckling” view of myself. Even after becoming a Christian, my self-esteem was not what it should have been. To combat my lack of confidence, I turned into a “Martha” and filled my days with busyness so I could feel like I was doing enough to be judged worthy of God’s grace and earn the approval of other people.
Then a cancer diagnosis at age 46 brought my crazy busy life to a screeching halt. A course of nuclear bomb-strength chemo put the aggressive lymphoma in remission, but I was a hairless shadow of myself by the end and could hardly pick up a pencil.
One of my writer friends invited me to the Tai Chi class she taught in her home studio. She said the slow, gentle movements would help me regain my strength, and she was right.
Because the form she taught has 108 movements (the Lee-modified long Yang form), it took me three years to learn it well enough to do it alone.
But what I did not understand until years later was how much strength and healing Tai Chi had brought to me—physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually. I was so focused on getting each movement “right” that I wasn’t seeing myself accurately.
One day a new woman visited our class. The teacher had her stand beside me. By that time I was asked to substitute teach for her when she was out because I had learned the entire form well enough and could “talk it through” for the newbies. The woman gamely tried to follow along, and so I made sure to move slowly and surely to help her keep up.
At the end, she shocked me with her comment: “You are so graceful and powerful.”
Me? Graceful? Powerful? I was so shocked, all I could stammer was, “Um, thanks.”
And then I realized, it was true. While moving through the form, I was in tune with my body and mind through the flow of chi, which is the body’s electrical energy. I didn’t think about all the things I needed to be doing or how I was failing to measure up to my own unrealistic expectations; I was thinking only about the present moment in a place of stillness.
That realization led me to finally understand the simple yet profound Bible verse I had been fighting all my life: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
Through Tai Chi, I not only found gracefulness and power in learning how to be still, but I came to better know God my Father and, finally, to accept his grace and love for me.
Katy Huth Jones has been a published author since 1992, but her writing journey has taken her in many unexpected directions. Katy has survived cancer twice and since then has learned the Lee-modified long Yang form of Tai Chi well enough to teach others. She and her husband live in Fort Worth, Texas.
Next (Bethany Jarmul) >
< Previous (D.M. Gralewski)
Photo is in the Public Domain.
Love this. Thank you Katy my friend and Christian sister.