It has been twelve painstakingly slow weeks since my shoulder surgery. Fortunate to get through those early days post op with minimal pain and relative ease, I showed up to my first PT appointment with an overachiever’s zeal. Proudly not wearing my sling and showing off my range of motion, I was greeted by what felt like a brick wall. “Slow and steady wins this race,” cautioned Dan.
No Short Cuts
Apparently, there is a right way and a wrong way to heal. If you try to strengthen an injured shoulder prematurely, I learned, you actually weaken it. Your compensating muscles take over the work the shoulder is too fragile to perform. The end result is a weaker joint, vulnerable to re-injury. In other words, there are no short cuts to healthy healing.
Let me say that again. There are no short cuts to healthy healing. It’s true for shoulders and I’ve come to believe it’s true for our hearts and souls too. No one escapes the hard parts of life. In my experience, every single one of us is bleeding under her armor.
Pain and Trauma
What have you experienced that has been so painful, so disorienting or so traumatic that your strategy has been to ‘just move on’? Perhaps there is no adequate way to fix it. You’ve asked all the questions of the professionals and you’ve asked all the questions of God, and still you’re left with a heap of debris. So to cope, you build a new life as best you can on top of the pile. You get busy, you smile, you carry on. Time passes and you may even think you’re out of the woods. But… inevitably something pokes the bear and you’re right back under the rotting garbage pile.
The irony is this…the whitewash strategy seems to work until it doesn’t. The way I see it, we’ve become experts at self-protection instead of yielding to the Lord’s work of redemption.
Because it’s so scary to hope again after heartache or to trust our God who allowed it to happen, we protect ourselves as if bracing for impact. When we dare pray for that miracle, we open ourselves to the possibility of more disappointment. Instead, it’s just easier to harden our hearts while we keep our expectations in check and live small, safe lives.
Yielding to Redemption
The Lord doesn’t want us to shrink but rather to live big, bold lives full of hope and daring to trust Him even when we can’t understand His ways. That is what it looks like to yield to His work of redemption.
We’re in the midst of Lent, that 40-day stretch devoted to our search for hope in the midst of the rubble. We remember a sinless Jesus, the Messiah, whose circumstances turned on a dime. Once worshipped and adored, He was stripped of his freedom, rejected by friends, despised by the crowd, tortured, mocked and crucified.
On Good Friday, Jesus’ broken body hung on a cross. In excruciating agony, Jesus cried out in despair because He thought His Father had forgotten Him.
Matthew 27:46 Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
But His Father had not forgotten Him. Those times when we think it, the Father hasn’t forgotten us either.
Not All There Is
To observe Lent is to prepare for Easter and its wonderful reminder that this life with all of its hard parts— the evil, the disappointment, the injustice, the suffering, the heartbreak — is not all there is. The empty tomb proves it. Because God resurrected Jesus, we can be confident that He’ll come back to redeem us too. And He’ll redeem every part of us, even and especially the broken and painful parts.
1 John 3:2 2 …now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him…
Do you get it? Healthy healing is a process and requires a level of honesty and waiting. We are under construction (being redeemed) until He calls us home. And that transformation process with all the necessary pruning can hurt.
Isaiah 64:8 And yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand.
But the Lord doesn’t stay distant in the heavens and watch us in pain. Nor does He expect us to curl up and just take the suffering. He wants to engage with us, to sit with us in it and through it, no matter what the ugly ‘it’ is.
Did you know there are more Psalms of lament and complaint than there are of praise and thanksgiving? Doesn’t that surprise you? The way I see it, to bring your honest, heavy heart full of grief and loss and heartache and lament to the Lord is actually a beautiful form of worship. In fact, that is precisely where healthy healing can occur, at the foot of the cross.
Perhaps this Lenten season it’s time to engage with the Lord and lay your heart bare. Dump your anger, bitterness, disappointment, confusion and fear at His feet. Invite Him to penetrate that wall of protection and tend to your injured heart and soul.
When you do, this is the scene I imagine… The Lord takes your face in His hands, tilts your chin up and says with gentle and kind compassion… “Daughter, I love you, and have your very best in mind. I see your deep wounds and I will heal them. I have good things planned for you. Be hopeful and trust Me again. Keep looking up with your eyes on Me. When you do, you’ll be able to see My goodness in the land of the living.” Psalm 27.
Please enjoy this song as it’s my prayer for you this Lenten season.
For His Glory, Debbie Hucke
Katy Nichole — In Jesus’ Name