Putting the squeeze on it
“How’s the knee?”
“Rather stiff and tender,” I admitted. If you don’t tell your physical therapist the truth, he can’t help you get better.
He sent me to warm up on the hamster bike, and I spent the next ten minutes working hard to go nowhere. Afterwards I hopped off and headed over to the table where he was working on someone else, expecting to be sent to do more stretches.
“Hop on up here,” he said, nodding his head toward his other table. He gave his other client some instructions and then turned his attention to me.
“Where does it hurt?”
“Under the kneecap. And in the medial area.” He checked my range of motion and found it good. He then began poking around, asking if certain areas were sore.
“YES.” There was no playing it cool. It hurt like the dickens where he was poking. To my credit, I refrained from kicking him in the face. Besides, kicking anything would hurt.
He nodded. “That’s scar tissue. We’re going to break that up.” And by we, he meant him.
Unlike the rubdowns I’d received previously, he didn’t grab any lotion. It was clear he wanted to be able to use the natural grip of the skin surface to dig in harder and deeper. And dig in harder and deeper he did.
It took all my focus to remember to keep breathing, keep breathing, keep breathing. He was relentless with the pressure and rubbing.
“I know this really hurts,” he said apologetically. “You’re going to be really sore tomorrow. Not the same sort of sore as before, but you’ll feel bruised.”
I had no doubt of that. “I just keep reminding myself that there are people in the world today trying to pass kidney stones,” I replied between breaths. “This is not that bad. There are women in labor. This is not that bad.”
The woman on the table next to me giggled. “I do that too! I think of something worse and remind myself that what I’m feeling isn’t as bad as that. It could always be worse!” Considering she was healing from a recent ACL repair, I’m sure she had plenty of opportunity to practice the “it could always be worse!” technique.
The physical terrorist worked on me for a good long time before letting me up to do some other exercises. My knee did feel considerably looser, albeit sore. I finished out my session and then headed out to run a few errands and then work a shift. By the end of that shift, my knee was hollering unkind words at me. It was done.
I came home and tackled the pile of dishes left loitering on the countertop. As I scrubbed at them, I thought about my morning and my still aching knee. Who knew that breaking up the scar tissue would be the most painful part of the healing process?
Isn’t that the way with all scars? The Voice was quiet, gentle.
I stopped. My mind began to race through an inventory of past injuries, past wounds, and not just the ones in my physical body.
He was right. As always.
When we’ve been wounded or offended, forgiveness is crucial to begin the healing process. I’ve often heard it taught, however, that forgiveness means the pain will go away. Maybe it works that way for some people, but I’ve rarely found it true for myself. Forgiveness means I cancel the debt and stop holding the offender responsible to fix the situation or make it up to me in some way. I take them off my hook and put them on God’s so that He can deal with them. But that doesn’t change the fact that I hurt. It just changes who is responsible to heal the hurt.
And He starts by going after the scar tissue.
Our hearts and minds have areas where wounds have left them stiff and sore, unable to move freely in rhythm with His own. We build life habits around those wounds to protect them from more pain, but those habits only serve to permit the formation of even stronger scar tissue. Soon we find entire areas of our lives encased in thick, unmovable, inflexible bonds. We are handicapped until we submit to His merciful mashing, molding, and kneading.
The first thing we learn about the healing process is it hurts.
The pain of healing isn’t like the pain of injury, or even the pain of being scar-bound. It is cleansing pain, freeing pain.
It is hopeful pain.
If I am completely honest, my life bears more scars than I can count. If you get brave enough to look at them, they look awful. And once upon a time, they felt awful. They hindered me by keeping me stiff and sore and bound, unable to process life properly. But God is a faithful Spiritual Therapist. He knows where to apply pressure and movement to soften the hard areas and break up the bound areas. He is kind enough to whisper “you’re going to be sore from this for a little while, but then it’s going to be so much better.”
And it always is.