by Brittney Chan
...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us...
I work as a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) in a few of Savannah’s hospitals and provide therapy to all kinds of people with all kinds of medical complications. Here’s one example...
Let’s say you accidentally slip and fall on your way to load some items into the car. You lay on the ground for a second, feeling a little embarrassed, and then decide that it’s time to dust yourself off, gather what’s left of your dignity, and try to get up. As soon as you begin to move, sharp pain in your left hip makes you sit right back down! Oh, joy. You know something’s not right.
A friend helps you get to the Emergency Department and some x-rays are taken. Come to find out...you broke the tip of your femur during the fall. The doctor and medical team consult and they think it’s best to schedule an OR for surgery as soon as possible.
You crack open your eyes the next day, feeling a little groggy, to a knock and the sound of someone introducing themselves as your Physical Therapist. You reluctantly fight through the discomfort, follow the directions to sit up to the edge of the bed, and try to answer the questions they ask. A day or two goes by and the doctor tells you that you need to be admitted to a rehab program to learn to manage the pain, strengthen all the involved muscles, and make sure you are capable of moving around safely once you leave the hospital.
This is where I enter the story! I’m one of the lucky therapists that gets to know you...and gets to help you on your road to recovery. You’re probably not too happy to see me each morning, but you do your best to cover it up with a smile and engage in all the conversations I pitch.
One day in the gym, I show you a pair of cuff weights and put them around your ankles. Now, at this point, you’re probably thinking: “Good grief, lady. As if you’re not putting me through enough pain and torture already!” But you decide to go with the flow and do your best with the exercises I give to you. Half an hour goes by and I realize your session’s almost over. I bend down to take the weights off before we leave the rehab gym. You chuckle and say the words I’ve heard a thousand times: “Honey, I forgot those weights were even on me!”
My friend. This conversation happens at least once a week for me. I can almost say the words for them before my patients even formulate the thought. But I want to bring your attention to three different stages in the scenario I just scripted for you: The Ruin, The Repair, and The Recovery.
The fall. I’m referring to the actual injury; the thing that happened that left you broken and hurting. It doesn’t take a lot of living to learn that life is full of mistakes and messy situations. Sometimes we’re the ones to blame. Sometimes other people are. And sometimes, it’s a combination of both. Often, we can find ourselves in the middle of chaos and wonder how we even got there.
No matter the particulars of your circumstance - whether it’s pain from what you did or from what has been done to you - one thing is clear: an injury occurred and the result is devastating.
Okay...I’ll be honest. This is where a lot of people jump ship. Recently, I worked with a middle-aged guy who was in the hospital for breaking his leg. (Just like our scenario up above!) But, there’s more to his story...he had suffered a stroke six years prior and had never gotten help. Instead, he just learned to live with the residual one-sided weakness and physical limitations. A few weeks ago, he fell and broke his femur.
From a therapist’s point of view, this blew my mind! Every case is different and I’m sure there are reasons that I don’t know about, but all I could see was the wasted potential for a more functional life...a more abundant life.
His current predicament happened because of a previous one. In other words, he skipped rehabilitation, never healed from past hurts, and that led to his present one.
Now examine your situation. If the guilt...bitterness...shame...hurt...isn’t properly identified and addressed, your healing will never be complete. That abundant life (John 10:10) that God wants for us will just be wishful thinking.
We can’t skip this stage. We have to put a finger on the issue. Shine a light on the problem and acknowledge the fact that yes, there is something wrong.
Now, what can we do to fix it?
Emotional healing can happen in a lot of different ways. It can look like meeting with your pastor, a professional counselor, or for coffee and conversation with the people of your inner circle. It happens when you pray, meditate, and apply the Words of God to your life. It happens when you listen to inspirational speeches or music that invokes a mindset of worship.
Don’t get me wrong. Healing is hard work. It isn’t for the faint of heart. At times, healing can feel redundant and tedious. It can be painful and when that happens, we are liable to develop coping strategies or ways to compensate for our weaknesses. This may show up as an angry attitude, a particular thought pattern, or a defense mechanism.
As a PTA, I’m trained to watch out for these. While they may enable my patient to “get by” now, they’ll only create more problems in the future. On the emotional front, these protective tactics can be comforting for a time. They put you in “survival” mode and burrow down until they become a part of your personality. They feel natural and if ever questioned, the response sounds like: “It’s just the way I am.” These tendencies can enable you to carry on with day-to-day life, but they’ll be destructive in the long run.
Remember the part you played so well for us at the beginning of this post? By the end of our appointment, you’d forgotten all about the additional weights around your ankles. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started back towards a patient’s room only to have a fellow therapist point out: “Brittney, you forgot about their weights!”
And that’s exactly the kind of people you need speaking into your life. The Bible teaches that there are benefits in having a multitude of wise counselors (Proverbs 11:14). These advisors are tasked with encouraging you and looking out for those impulses that will ultimately weigh you down. In fact, the first part of Proverbs 11:14 warns that if godly guidance is absent in a person’s life, they will be overthrown or destroyed. God advocates for His children to have sound counsel because it is the road to victory!
The truth is, we are all on this journey. While you may be in The Repair stage, I may be in The Recovery. Or this could be Day 1 of your Ruin, and friend, if so - you need to know that tomorrow won’t look like today. Regardless of your situation, there is a hope of mending. We may never see complete healing on this side of eternity, but our comfort is in knowing who holds our hearts in His hands. Hear Him say, “Fear not; I will help thee...” (Isaiah 41:13)
I pray for my sister reading these words today. She is tired of running from her pain and fighting to cover it all up with a smile. Meet her in the middle of her brokenness. Exchange her doubts and questions for Your perfect peace. Let the Good News push her to carry on and restore her soul with Your Spirit.
In Jesus’ Name,