My progress after the slight knee surgery I had at the end of December had progressed somewhat more slowly than my impatience desired. I’d hoped that after a month or so, I’d be happily walking the hallways. Perhaps leaping tall buildings in a single bound was somewhat ambitious, I’ll admit. I’ll also admit that the limp and shuffle up and down steps was getting aggravating, as was the limping everywhere else. My routine had gotten pretty simple otherwise: limp around all day, spend evenings on the couch with my left leg propped up.
I finally got so aggravated I went up for prayer during altar call three weeks ago yesterday. I felt a warming on my back from the hands of the man praying for me. I also felt a sense of divine presence, which increased when Pastor James anointed me and prayed for me. The next day, I reported to Pattie, director of physical therapy at the local hospital.
After the first session, as I was leaving, Pattie called out from behind me, “Quit limping!” I stopped and turned, looked at her for a few seconds. Among possible retorts I considered was, “I’ll quit limping when it stops hurting.” Instead, after quickly considering the expression on her face, I went with Plan B, “You’re serious, aren’t you?” She was, indeed.
So, in spite of the continuing discomfort, I started trying to walk without a limp. I didn’t fool me or anybody else at first, but I kept trying and making progress each day. As I considered my pain and my progress, it made sense to me.
As long as I kept favoring that leg, I would continue to cultivate the weakening of certain muscles. I would also prevent the knee from developing tolerance for the increased range of motion. I would continue placing more strain on the other leg and both hips. So, I made myself walk as close to normally as I could. I also continued going to therapy three times a week.
Between my efforts, Pattie’s benevolent torture and the Lord’s grace, I continued making very good progress. The range of motion in the left knee is nearly equal to that of the right knee. The muscles are responding, too. I’m not bounding up and down the stairs three at a time but I am making progress.
Pattie’s firm admonition has led me to remember that sometimes we use the pains of the past as excuse to limp through life.
Because one person hurt us, we avoid others. Because one experience went badly, we withdraw into the mundane. Because one boss failed to appreciate our efforts, we become lackadaisical or put forth only minimal effort. Because one congregation didn’t fulfill our family’s needs, we quit going to church. We limp around our families, our neighbors, our jobs, our communities. Limp, limp, limp, frequently reminding ourselves and others about our painful past.
There is certainly a period of recovery during which we must carefully protect the injured part. But there is also a period of recovery during which we must permit some degree of stress. Rehabilitation is sometimes painful. But if we endure the pain, continue the effort and refuse to baby ourselves right into disability, we may very well find ourselves not only healed but stronger than before.