“Real life” is like a box of toys nobody actually wants to play with, but you have to anyways.
Nobody actually wants to buy toilet paper or insurance. Nobody actually wants to make a budget and then (gulp) stick to it. Nobody actually wants to take their car in to the shop over and over. Or their body to the doctor.
The details that have to be done.
The details that take up real time on real days.
Details that seem like they can wait for a better day, when a better day doesn’t really exist.
To-do lists that have cradled a task for months that takes mere minutes to finish.
There’s never a time that things breaking down or issues needing to be addressed is fun. Any day they come up, I will be some degree of tired, some degree of annoyed, wanting to procrastinate.
I’ve noticed this tendency to put off the details before, like in college when I buried myself in activity. There always seemed to be something bigger and more important that needs to be addressed first. But moving to SC has brought up several situations that have really pinpointed and highlighted that tendency for me.
One actually started before the move, back in September. Slowly, sneakily, my back started giving me grief. Bit by bit, as the days went past, some strange sharp pain escalated in my lower back. Just on one side. It would explode in pain when I tried doing the simplest things, like lying down flat on my back or trying to touch my toes. I’m not a wussy, people, and this really hurt. A lot.
I tried ibuprofen, ice, heat, rest. I couldn’t run, I couldn’t do most things I liked doing. It drove me crazy.
But how funny that even such crippling pain didn’t get me anywhere close to a doctor’s office until late November. Common sense would get my ornery body into a doctor’s office ASAP, but I ignored the pain, ignored the warning signs.
There were several reasons why.
1) I thought I could fix it myself. Take some rest and sprinkle some medication on it, and it’ll eventually have to get better, right? I took matters into my own hands, thinking that I was smart enough and the problem small enough for me to handle. I imagined that the problem really wasn’t that serious to need to involve anyone else.
Don’t we do this often?
Broken bodies, broken hearts, broken souls: we try to remedy it ourselves. We apply the salves we think will correct the problem, only to find that our self-treatment has not made much of a difference at all. Square One is no longer just the first step of our plan to success- it becomes our dwelling place. Over and over, we try to fix it, but it remains. It may come and go in waves, but it stays. Stays in the most frustrating, confusing, exhausting way.
Turns out that the whole time, we were trying to tackle a problem much bigger than our paltry attempts to solve it.
2) I thought that with time, with enough denial and ignorance, it would go away. If I keep up the front of being fine, maybe I’ll even convince myself. Ignore it until it doesn’t exist anymore. I don’t want to make the time to really deal with it, so I’ll push it to a future to-do list and hope that maybe it’ll go away or someone else will take care of it.
But denying what hurts just pulls a shroud over something that needs stitches.
What burdens dig into your shoulders? What wounds upon your heart are being disguised with laughter or busyness or superficial conversation? We have to allow ourselves to acknowledge that something in us needs healing- denial only robs us of the opportunity to experience that healing.
3) I was afraid that the problem, as small as I tried to pretend it was, would in reality be devastatingly deeper and more serious than I wanted to know. I was afraid that letting myself be examined under the physician’s gaze would reveal that the problem was not just a mere annoyance, but a very serious concern.
What if I needed treatment that went beyond a pill, taken easily and without much thought?
Are we not also afraid that the sadness, heartbreak, loneliness, anger, bitterness, discontent, envy, and the selfishness are actually signs of something much more convicting and life-threatening than we would like to think? That the treatment required might be much steeper than we can handle?
“It’s not a big deal, it’ll go away eventually, it’s not worth involving anyone else in the struggle, I don’t have time to deal with this, I can take care of it myself… I’m too afraid that if I actually stop to look at it I’ll be horrified at how bad it is.”
Just as I was stubborn in seeking healing for my back, at times I am stubborn in seeking healing for my soul.
I swallow the lie that the process of healing will be harder than simply letting the wounds fester beneath my masks and disguises. Oh heart! How could I ever think that embracing imaginary freedom, whilst my soul wastes away, would be better than the true freedom found in accepting treatment, painful as it may be, and being healed? Why would I think that ignoring my back and letting it poison the smallest activities would be better than dealing with the problem and one day move without pain?
I am foolishly afraid to bring my heart’s wounds to the Great Physician. I fear that when I pull back the pathetic bandages and he sees the damage, I am sicker than I want to admit. I am more in desperate need of healing than my pride wants to allow.
Oh, but Lord, I am indeed as desperate as I feared. I am more so! The disease that sin wrecks upon my soul is not just a strange rash, but a cancer. It isn’t a slight cold, but dying lungs that produce the sickly cough. And I am lost, if You do not intervene.
What a beautiful season to remember Your intervention for me, sent as a babe and laid in a manger.
Thankfully, I think my back is going to be okay. The doc thinks it’s my sacroiliac joint and said something about it being common for active people to get it torn up in there. I’m getting meds and PT, and if those don’t work, there are more drastic measures that can be figured out later.
So I was in my first PT appointment last Friday, lying on my side waiting for the ultrasound treatment to start, when I allowed myself to wrestle with the bitterly wonderful war in my heart; bitter because I didn’t want to be there in the first place, but wonderful because in that moment I heard Jesus whisper to me, “I want to make you well. Not just this, not just your physical crap, but your heart, your very being! Let me heal you.”
I let silent tears escape out of sadness at my tendency to run, and out of the joyful blessing of grace that He still sees me when I’m hiding.
Resisting His healing is foolishness. We are in more need of it than we want to admit, and he wants to bestow it in greater measures than we expect or hope for.
“Let me heal you.”