Thursday, July 14, 2011

Don't fight it!!!

I have had to learn some very difficult lessons these last few weeks since my surgery. Number 1 was that I *can* say the words, "I can't do this; can you help me please?" (would you believe I had a hard time even typing that??) without spontaneously combusting. HARD lesson there. I'm independent. At times I'm sure I look like a stubborn 2-year-old struggling with my shoelaces saying, "I do it myself!"

Sigh. I'm getting there. Having to have help just pulling up my pants that first two days was enough to break my stubbornness in that regard. Well, maybe. Almost. Eh, nevermind. I'm still stubborn. But I'm learning to ask for help when I need it. Really, I am.

Lesson number 2 was not just difficult, it was painful. See, I started occupational therapy four days after the surgery. Occupational therapy, I'm told, isn't the same as physical therapy. It's designed to get your body back to a functional level of usefulness. I had to have my shoulder re-trained to do the things it's been doing for 38 years without a single thought. And to accomplish those things started out with something I wasn't prepared for--total submission and complete surrender to the therapist.

When I found out that my first couple of weeks was simply laying still and letting the therapist move my arm while laying completely relaxed, I went weak at the knees, turned white as a sheet, and panicked. WHAAAT?? I have to let YOU move my arm??? But you don't know how much it hurts!!! How are you going to know when to stop? The screaming inside my head was barely visible behind the smirk I tried to keep up on my colorless face. That first day of therapy was agony. The second day, same deal. But then I realized that the therapist wasn't going to kill me. She wasn't going to rip my arm off, and she wasn't going to drop it and let me get hurt. I just needed to relaaaaaaaaax.

Much easier said than done. Thankfully, though, I finally learned to trust her, and now we have a really good working relationship with my poor shoulder in the middle. I like my therapist most of the time, but now that we've moved past the "passive" part to the "active" stuff, it really does feel more like torture than therapy. Thing is, though, since I trust that she's not going to break me, I can believe her when she says, "trust me, you're going to be fine."

This trust thing is not something we humans do well. We want to be in charge. We can't seem to get it through our thick heads that maybe, just MAYBE we can't do everything by ourselves. That might just be the hardest aspect of Christianity to swallow--submission and complete surrender.

Growing up in south Florida, I became very familiar with something called an undertow. Ever heard of it? Well, not far from the shoreline, there is a current flowing under the surface of the water--you can't see it, you don't even know it's there--until you are swimming along with your little pool floaties and your Coppertoned nose and you suddenly realize you aren't able to go where you want to go. Funny thing about undertows is that they can be deadly. People who don't know what's going on will struggle against the current, exhausting themselves to the point of drowning, trying to swim back to their little umbrella and beach towel on the shore. But ironically, to escape from an undertow, the only thing you can do is submit to the force that is greater than you are and swim parallel to the shore instead of toward it. Eventually the current just disappears and you can swim your happy little self onto the beach and walk back to your towel and flip-flops.

That is the kind of submission God wants from us--COMPLETE submission. If you fight a current, you may look awfully busy, but you will likely just end up exhausted and in danger. I can fight against my physical therapist when she is stretching my arm in the most unnatural of positions I could ever imagine five weeks post-op, but I will only end up hurting myself. Believe it or not, God actually does know what we are capable of, even if we think there is NO WAY we can stretch that far. And maybe, just maybe He is trying to take us further down the shoreline to show us something we would never see if we didn't get caught up in the undertow we're fighting so hard. He may not be in the business of raising the dead or turning water to wine anymore, but God can and does do some amazingly wonderful things when we just get our pride and our stubborn little selves out of the way and just let HIM stretch us.

1 comment:

Tina said...

Your undertow story reminded me of another one I read about a young mother who had a hard time changing her baby's diapers because the child didn't like it. So everytime it was a hard fight to get the baby cleaned and dressed up again.
One day, when she was talking to the baby like: "I have to do it to clean you, so you can either fight against it and make it worse or you cooperate and things are easier for the two of us" she realized it's often the same with us and God...

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