May you never know the agony of a broken shoulder and orthopedic surgery. Thankfully it was my left arm; I am typing with two hands and my right is doing the heavy lifting, but my jaw is clenched. My left arm will have lots to say about this foolishness later.
But I have to tell you something! Four somethings, in fact. Four keys to healing your broken bits, four tips for growing through pain and grief.
1. Cling not to the past
My shoulder screams me awake several times during the night. I try to take enough Percocet to keep the pain away, but it’s fast and sneaky. I’m sleeping on the sofa these nights (and days) in a totally upright position. My dogs sleep with me, which is comforting…but still, I get lonely and sad.
The pain is worse when I think back to last week—when I was blissfully ignorant of femoral head fractures, shoulder joints, and how steel pins and plates put broken arms back together again. I want to weep when I remember how freely I stretched through yoga, wrote articles, jogged backwards up hills.
Those days are over and it doesn’t help to dwell there. I feel better when I gently embrace my broken arm, see Jesus sitting at the foot of my sofa, and ask Him how they coped with broken limbs and painkillers back when He was a carpenter.
2. Remember that it’s not all about you
When I had my surgery last week, three people asked about Ruach! (You can see Ruach in last week’s She Blossoms newsletter, My Broken Arm and New Tattoo). I love talking about how Ruach is God’s life-giving energy, breath, wind and Holy Spirit. My new tattoo is a great way to start conversations and talk about Things That Matter.
I broke my arm and I’m in pain—but it’s not all about me. My husband canceled a work trip to Surinam to take care of me, which impacted his coworkers and boss. Our marriage has been strengthened through this. I had to postpone commitments and let go of responsibilities. God is using my broken arm in ways I know naught of. I was running while listening to a Tim Keller sermon about spiritual warfare, satan, and the Holocaust when I tripped and slammed my shoulder into the pavement. I may never realize the spiritual dynamics that were and are still swirling. My pain isn’t all about me.
We aren’t alone, you and I. We’re part of a bigger story.
3. Plant seeds of joy today
I’ve been waiting for a Bad Thing to happen for at least two years. Life has been too good—my relationship with Jesus has been growing stronger and deeper, I’m less and less attached to what people think, and I’m more joyful and peaceful than I ever believed possible. I haven’t been living in dread, fear or worry…but I have been wondering what Bad Thing I’d have to grow through next. A family crisis, perhaps, or a car accident. Job loss, cancer diagnosis, house fire, dog death, bankruptcy…Bad Things happen all the time. I was curious when my time would come, and what Bad Thing I’d have to walk through with God.
I never imagined I’d fall while running, break my shoulder, and require orthopedic surgery from a doctor who snowboards every on Whistler! I envisioned plane crashes because I travel a lot, food-borne illnesses because I don’t buy organic groceries, and car accidents because I’ve been driving for 25 years without a single dent.
My broken arm taught me that the Bad Thing itself isn’t the problem. Bad Things happen all the time; some people recover with joy and peace. Other people get stuck in grief and misery. The secret to bouncing back quickly and joyfully is advance preparation. Take time today to grow deeper and stronger in God’s love, Jesus’ peace, and the Holy Spirit’s wisdom. This will make it easier to recover from anything in life. If your faith is shallow and lukewarm, a paper cut or traffic jam will disrupt or even enrage you.
4. Picture Jesus at the foot of your bed
One last tip before I toddle off to my sofa and Percocet-soaked dreamland: have a good time with God! Our Father is creative, spirited, joyful, colorful, eccentric, mysterious and unpredictable. Have fun in your relationship with Him—don’t just make your prayers a list of things you want Him to do for you.
Get to know Jesus for who He is. Picture Him sitting at the foot of your bed or beside you in the car. Ask Him questions. Tell Him what you’re going through and why you’re happy, sad, bored, scared, or miserable.
Our Lord created cute koalas, magnificent lions, vast universes, vibrant flowers and beautiful music. Wink at Him—blow Jesus a kiss—every time you see something interesting, funny, titillating or weird! He created people, places, pets and possessions for you to enjoy with Him. Don’t leave Him at home when you’re out having fun.
Bring God into your experiences…and He will bring you through yours.
With His love,
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