The month of May often reminds me of a knee injury that changed my spiritual life. A lesson in hope and healing, it was a pivotal point that brought me face to face with some of my beliefs about God, his goodness, and his power. What did I really believe and how was that working out?
My knee injury had me hobbling through the celebrations of May. A trip to Texas for a nephew’s graduation. The family gathered for our Memorial Day traditions. It wasn’t hard to feel sorry for myself around other able-bodied people. But as I walked (hobbled) through this story, I found that God can and does work difficult things out for my good.
This year I’m revisiting my thoughts in this flashback to a post from 2019, entitled “Walking, Running and Leaping”. As I embrace “remember” as my word of the year, the important message of surrender found here continues to bring hope and healing.
The injured knee
The other day I walked into the North Liberty Rec Center to use the indoor track. The sun was shining on one of our wonderfully warm days sandwiched between clouds and rain, but what I really noticed was that I was walking and both of my legs felt equally strong! No catches. No kinks or aches. What a blessing good health is!
Because at this time last year I had a knee injury that took several months to heal. I was walking out of, of all places, the doctor’s office and while I was absent-mindedly reading, I missed a step. It wasn’t falling that hurt; it was dislocating my knee cap. All I could think was darn, darn, darn it!
You see I’ve done this before. Probably five or six times. Always the same knee because the kneecap is now a little misshaped. But I had been knee injury free for over 15 years! I’d been doing my job! I’d been keeping myself healthy and active! I knew that my knee was about to swell right up, and that it would take at least a week to heal. I didn’t count on the additional factor of aging, and it actually took one month of stubborn hobbling plus an additional month of physical therapy to get me somewhat flexible again. I wasn’t able to bend my knee for a month!
Only recently have I been able to live every day without my left knee feeling, if not painful, at least awkwardly different from my right knee. From previous injuries and hyperflexibility, the doctor said I have developed Chondromalacia patella. Now don’t feel sorry me. Apparently, my ligaments don’t hold everything as they should and so I just have to make sure I’m continually getting my exercise so that the muscles hold my kneecap where it’s supposed to be. No surgery needed! Hooray for that!
The injured soul
But last year’s events turned out to be a big lesson about trusting God, especially trusting His plans, His ways, and His goodness. I know my injury was minor and nothing compared to the physical struggles that others may face every day, but maybe you can relate to the impatience and self-pity that I was experiencing as I waited to recover. I hope not! I hope you’ve been fine with your genetic makeup, but I had a few questions.
Psalm 139 talks about how God knit each one of us together in our mothers’ wombs. In the next breath, the writer says “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Now if you have a perfectly formed, normal body, maybe you haven’t wrestled as deeply with these two juxtapositioned verses that seemed like contradictions to me. “God, how could you make me on purpose with a birth defect?” I actually have two. Visibly, I have an ear that didn’t develop properly, and then I have the genes that make me hyper-flexible resulting in dislocation and other symptoms similar to Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.
The exercises of healing
I don’t really have the answer to my question. But what helped heal my soul while my body mended was Ellie Holcumb’s song Wonderfully Made based on Psalm 139. I listened to this over and over in June of 2018! Even though I’ve been given what is really a relatively healthy body with a few minor abnormalities, as I let that song and the words from Scripture wash over me, over and over and carrying away with it many tears, it was as if I had let out all my anger and emotion and was finally ready to be comforted and healed in more than just my body. I was ready to accept the blessing that my body is.
As I was able to move more easily, the physical therapy pushed me beyond comfortable. I just got used to accepting my knee’s aches and pains as reminders to do my squats and ride the exercise bike without skipping days!
Do you know why I had been to the doctor that fateful day in April of 2018? Mysterious ear pain. After the leg improved, I began seeing doctors again for ringing ears, pain and crackling. Finally got that figured out and it had nothing to do with my ears at all, but with how my eustachian tube was being affected by my jaw which was in turn being affected by my hyperflexibility. Turns out now I also get to exercise my face and jaws everyday! You should see those exercises!
The exercise of surrender
But through it all I am actually finding more joy and contentment because I’m not trying to be God anymore in so many areas of my life! I’m no longer demanding explanations, but recognizing that God is gonna do His thing in His way. Surrendering means letting Him lead. And that is only possible after years of learning about the beauty of who He is.
God is continuing to work on my ability to trust Him. I haven’t quite arrived yet. Just as I have days my knee is achy, I have anxiety that comes in waves. That’s when I have to ask myself, “Will I choose to believe?” The very next day after feeling light and entirely whole, I started looking at all the things I don’t know how to handle and then opened my Bible to Luke 12.
“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more important than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens; they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse or barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than birds! And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest?”
I admit, I cried. But I am being healed as I remember who to watch as I walk on water. The waves may come, but more and more, I remember to look up.
Hope and healing
So what do I have now? Hope. And since I realize that that is such a rare commodity, I’m feeling very loved and blessed. I hope that by my sharing this, you will be encouraged to seek the Lord with the problems that bother you. Wrestle it out with Him. Be honest and patient. The answers may not come in the way you expect, but you will find truth nonetheless.
Life is fluid. We get thrown into the deep end of the pool and people expect us to sink or swim. Maybe there’s another option. Maybe Jesus calls us to walk.
As I look at this post, there’s a lot about peace with my body, a struggle I’ve written about recently in The Prison of Self Betterment. Incredibly, the peace that Christ purchased for me extends even beyond the remarkable miracle of making peace with God. This peace becomes available in relation to everything and everyone! That includes the provision he supplies for me to accept peace with my body. Nothing is beyond his healing touch. The gospel really is meant to change our lives entirely and is relevant to everything! The hope and healing available throught Christ has power to transform completely.
Let me encourage you with this thought, surrender makes me so much freer. In this space where I don’t have to control all the outcomes, I’m free to ask questions. And able to move on when there are no answers. I’m beginning to actually enjoy life for the first time in my life. Because I’m loving God for who He is without being caught up in trying to control him.
I love that Jesus makes a way where there is no way. Maybe that’s the beauty of our brokenness. Just as he calmed the storm and stilled the sea for his disciples, he creates a miracle peace where there was previously pain and turmoil.
It’s a new day of hope and healing for me. A day free from unmet expectations and disappointments in others. Because I’m discovering grace for others as well as for myself. I pray that you will embrace the new day he supplies for you as well! May you love living in hope and healing.