Lessons from an Injured Rotator Cuff
About a month ago I injured my Rotator Cuff in my right shoulder. Since that time I have been severely limited in what I am able to do (including sleeping comfortably at night). Yet I am finding some helpful spiritual parallels.
I find myself learning to adjust to my injury by doing without as much movement of my right arm. I am finding myself reaching for things with my left arm and doing things with my left arm that I used to do automatically with my right arm because I get sharp pains when I try to do those things with my right arm. After going through enough jabs of sharp pain I find myself careful to use my left arm instead of my right arm. Though I recognize that it is good to learn how to do more things with my left arm…it gets me thinking about ways I have learned to compensate for spiritual injuries and spiritual disabilities. I have been discovering over this past year how inclined I am to depend upon my efforts to win favor rather than to depend upon grace. As I think about this in light of my shoulder injury, I realize that a long time ago I experienced sufficient pain when seeking grace and love that I stopped reaching in that way and began reaching in a different way. I had found myself getting hurt when I would honestly bare to others my faults and failures and weaknesses. I found that it hurt less to reach for favor from others by trying harder and putting on a good show than by risking the possibility of grace or rejection from others.
Though I have been cautious about using my right shoulder, I know very clearly what I have missed by not using it, and I don’t want to continue on this way. I want to get back to being able to ski and to throw my grandchildren in the air and to prune trees and such. So I will begin physical therapy next week. Since I have lived for so long in the realm of trying-to-earn-favor rather than in the realm of grace, I have grown accustomed to trying-to-earn-favor and don’t always realize how much I am missing in my life while not living in grace. It gets me wondering how aggressively and thoroughly I would pursue the healing of the “grace muscles” in my soul if I really knew all the joy and peace I am missing by living in the realm of trying-to-earn-favor rather than in the realm of grace. As I begin to get a truer taste of grace, I find myself more anxious to find further spiritual and personal healing in my life.
In previous encounters with physical therapy (I have had a lot of physical injuries in my life), I have found how the repetition of simple stretches over time can seem to bring almost miraculous healing to injured muscles and tendons. At first those repetitions seem to be getting nowhere, but over time they produce great healing. I take hope from that. I have been doing some simple exercises of my “grace muscles”–like repeating daily some verses that speak of God’s love for me, and receiving more freely from others, and more honestly looking at and sharing the truth about how I am feeling and what I am finding in me. I don’t always see whether these repetitions are getting anywhere, but perhaps they will prove to be as healing as the little physical exercises I have done on injured muscles and tendons.
If the little exercises do not bring healing to my shoulder, will I have to undergo surgery for its healing? I will certainly be willing to do so. If the little “grace exercises” do not bring healing to my soul, will I have to undergo some kind of surgery? I want to grow into the fullness of the person God wants me to become, so, Lord, I am willing for whatever you will need to do for me.