Pride is a funny thing. I don’t mean ‘funny in a “ha, ha!” way, but funny as in fickle—unstable, capricious or worse, according to Webster’s “deceitful.”
Being prideful doesn’t make us deceitful, lying to others (well, it can). No, it makes us lie to ourselves.
I have been struggling for several weeks with severe right shoulder pain—shooting, stabbing through my upper arm, waking me up at night. If/when I do get to sleep, it often awakens me at 4 am, when I roll over and muck about the floor looking for the ice pack.
Physical symptoms have included significant muscle weakness and an impaired range of motion, making the simple act of lifting my coffee cup to my lips a cause for pause. The ache extends all the way down my arm into my hand, literally cramping my style, making it hard to write (or type). And I’m a writer.
My massage therapist suggested putting heat on the area at night to stimulate blood movement in the muscles, loosening the tension. The chiropractor mentioned the opposite—ice –when the pain is too severe.
Both have helped (a little) at least at night–sleeping is iffy but slightly better.
What ice and heat can’t reach or repair is the continual state of worrying about what’s really wrong. Do I need surgery? Is there a permanent injury? The pondering and the pain have preoccupied my (nearly) every waking moment for weeks. There is no space in my brain to focus on anything else, like the bothersome hum from an old fan in the corner, it functions okay but the annoyance is always there in the background.
Added to that is the mental piece—the pressure of my pride, particularly my self-talk, “I’m the healthy one here—capable, fit, never been to the hospital for a thing – except for babies, but that was over 30 years ago. Nothing major, a day procedure here and there in the last 20 years. My body is serving me well (except for the 10 extra pounds.) But still….I don’t ever have anything wrong with me. I.AM.FINE.
Age and gravity have clearly taken their toll. I finally acquiesced to the inevitable and made an appointment with the orthopedic doctor. He exrayed, examined, asked questions. Asked me to flail about with my affected right arm. Diagnosis? Severe tendonitis of the rotator cuff.
After some discussion the decision we agreed on was a cortisone shot for now—a shot in the arm—and physical therapy to help with the healing.
As he left the exam room to get his needle and serum (and summon the nurse to hold my nervous hand) I wrestled still with the decision.
“I hate this short cut,” I told myself. “It’s such an artificial way to treat the problem. The cortisone just deals with the inflammation and pain, it won’t fix the problem.”
The still small voice in my head pointed out that many times it is the mental or emotional maladies that dog our steps the most. Roadblocks of physical pain, things like anxiety or depression must be dealt with first before we can go deeper to the roots of what really needs healing.
Is it emotional trauma? Spiritual questions or disillusionments? Losses or grief, unmet needs, abandonment? All sorts of invisible daggers are thrown our way in this life.
I can’t get to the therapy and rebuilding of the muscles in my arm until I deal with the excruciating pain and the all consuming thoughts that have overtaken my life FIRST. And the sleep deprivation; that is huge. I can’t tax my brain with anything extra when I’m running low on sleep.
A minor revelation took place.
When we tell our brothers and sisters in Christ who struggle with depression, anxiety or chronic pain to “trust in Jesus”, “lean on Him”, “be filled with the joy of the Lord,” or other dismissive responses, we completely invalidate their struggles.
Should we slight them if they need medication to cope, to sleep, to function? I know I have been judgmental in this regard, and for that I repent.
The way I read the Gospels, Jesus didn’t negate the emotional state of anyone who came to Him for help, but instead acknowledged their pain, whether soul or skin deep.
Let’s be better at giving each other space and grace to be broken and needy, pain-wracked—physically or emotionally. And encourage one another in the path towards healing—no matter the process.~~~~~~~ I am happy to say, since my ‘shot in the arm’ my symptoms are much improved and physical therapy starts soon. (Thank you to my daughter for reminding me to share that.)
ON ANOTHER NOTE: Next week I have a surprise–I’m moving to a new home! God willing I’ll have a new blogsite ready to view and read; I hope you’ll follow me over there.
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My readers are my greatest joy. Thank you.