“Ouch, that hurts,” I told the physical therapist working on my knee. He was trying to figure out what was stable and what needed to be stretched after last week’s surgery.
“We’re going to get you walking,” he said, in a thick Polish accent. “That pain? It’s from muscles you haven’t used since you’ve been hurt. Now, get up and walk.”
I looked at him with fear in my eyes. I hadn’t put full weight on my right leg for two and a half months. I started walking, but with a limp.
“Get rid of the limp. You don’t need to do that anymore. You’re afraid to walk because of the pain you had in the past. There is no pain anymore other than from the muscles you haven’t used. You can do this. Walk.”
I took steps, one after another, swinging my hip just like he said.
With courage I was capable to do what I was afraid of.
Do you have moments like that?
Moments where the pain of the past grips you? Where you change your emotional, spiritual or behavioral posture because something hurts and the only way you know to go on is to limp along. The limp becomes the new normal, overcompensating for the pain that’s afflicting you. A pain that won’t go away unless you’re intentional about fixing it so it can heal.
While the surgery fixed the torn meniscus in my knee, my PT was pushing me to work through the pain from unused muscles I no longer used right because the stiff limp I was accustomed to became normal.
Are you walking in pain that has become normal for you? Have you become dull to the pain, allowing spiritual or emotional muscles to weaken because you’re haven’t been using them? When you attempt to use them in the right way, do you shrink back because the weakened ones cause new pain? Are you afraid to go through the pain to be healed and healthy?
Physical therapy has done great things in just one week. My knee’s been pushed, pulled, challenged, and stretched. After each session, it’s stronger. In order to heal, I have to persevere and work through the pain.
Healing from emotional pain is similar. I often tell counseling clients that things will feel worse before they feel better because therapy brings up painful things needing to be addressed and healed. It’s like surgery. In order to heal, you have to open up and repair what’s damaged in the mind, soul, and spirit. Learning to walk an emotionally healthy road requires using emotional and behavioral muscles that have been weakened. It’s painful. You’re pushed, pulled, challenged and stretched. But after persevering, you’re stronger.
Just like my knee. If I wouldn’t have sought treatment, I would have walked in pain with my “new normal” limp. I probably would have gotten along okay until something would make it hurt worse. Emotional pain can be carried the same way. Pain and injury becomes an accepted way of life. It’s not healthy. Not at all.
I’ve learned my fear of walking “the right way” was real. The physical therapist saw right through it. He knew my muscles were strong enough to walk again. He wouldn’t accept my fear of the past experience to be my present reality. When he said, “You can do this” it gave me confidence to walk the right way. “Swing your hip,” he said. “No limp no more.”
I needed to do this. In fact, my future health depended on it.
What fears grip you because of pain from your past? What fears are keeping you from walking forward?
As I continue to get stronger and work at strengthening the weakened muscles, I’m reminded that healthy physical, emotional and spiritual lives requires hard work. It requires addressing our past, our pain, our fears. It requires being stretched, pulled, pushed and challenged. But in the end, we can walk with strength.
With a swing in our hip and confidence in our heart.
We know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who He has given us. Romans 5:3
My love to you,