While Waiting for Healing

Have you ever read Hinds Feet on High Places?

If not, get a copy today and begin an adventure! I read this many, many years ago. I gave away so many paperback copies I eventually bought myself the hardback copy so I would NOT give it away. At one time there were no notes for teaching this book, so I wrote my own and lead a group through the book as a Scripture study. This allegory is still teaching me about life with Christ my Lord.

While recovering from this surgery, during a prayer time one morning, I was led again to a scene at the end of the book when Much-Afraid, a timid girl with crippled feet, was led to a ‘desolate altar in this valley of shadows’ to make a burnt offering as commanded by the Shepherd.’

It was not until my retreat January 10 that I re-read and listened to an audible version (free from the library through Hoopla) to review what happened in that sacrifice. I had forgotten that at every altar Much-Afraid built throughout the journey she offered the Lord a portion of her will. This time was no different.

Romans 12:1-2 (NRSV) I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

What if this living sacrifice of our bodies intentionally included our will, too? Could you do it for Christ? Would you be willing for the Father? Might you ask the Holy Spirit to enable you to conform to God’s will that you might be transformed?

Much-Afraid, like us, was asked to offer a portion of her will at various places in her journey. We are not asked to do that all at once at the outset of our journey. I do not believe we would be able to accomplish it all, psychologically or otherwise. I do not even recognize all the strongholds of my will until I begin to stumble over new ones that are revealed to me as I follow my Lord through this life journey. Thus, there is no way I could consciously offer them as a living sacrifice all at once. Salvation and transformation are on-going processes.

So I have had to sit and wait for healing to come. I am still finding three months later that, no, the foot healing is not yet complete. I was reminded once again that healing, like transformation is a process. My will trips me more than my feet these days.

When I build an altar and sacrifice a portion of my will that is causing me to stumble, the Father has promised to accept that offering and transfigure that portion of me. 1 John reads that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins AND cleanse us from all unrighteousness. So how does that become transformation? Not an easy question. In my experience, transformation comes as I continue and continue to yield to the highest and best that God offers me. No one and done here.

Altar_1

 

Here is a tiny sketch I made to illustrate the Hinds Feet study. I pray you will examine your heart after you read this, build your altar, fan the flames, offer your will a living sacrifice to the One Who loves us best!

 

“Prayer is sitting in silence until it silences us,

choosing gratitude until we are grateful”

-Richard Rohr

 

 

 

 

Difficulty of Physical Stillness

I began to wonder if my doctor had ever sat for 5-6 weeks with no weight bearing upon one of his feet? I found it to be difficult psychologically. Psalm 32:9 CSB is a description of me when I refused to trust God in the difficult moments. “Do not be like a horse or mule, without understanding, that must be controlled with bit and bridle or else it will not come near you.”

The verse before that is a wonderful promise: “I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with my eye on you, I will give counsel.”

And God did when I calmed down, asked for help and let Him guide me.

Here is what we saw when the bandages were removed for the first time:

Tara Brach calls us to Surrendered Presence, Surrendering Presence. We waste so much time and energy trying to control everything. We are better off as far as energy stores if we can surrender and wait and see. One beaded bracelet I made pre-surgery reminds me that God is never perplexed. He is willing to be my strength. As I gladly boast in my weakness ( 2 COR 12:9-10) He is willing to be my strength and “react” upon me. (See journal entry http://stand-and-tip.com/2019/10/06/perfect-in-weakness/)

On October 31 I read a quote from Mark Nepo that says, “The things that frighten us just want to be held.” “Does that describe my fear of the pain out of control? Just something that wants to be held? Show me Lord, how to spread out the medication. When to stop. How to cope with the remainder of the healing pain.”

“I trust You, Jesus, to lead me through this. I do not want to be hooked on the painkiller. Please give me the courage to cope with this pain. Wisdom to know how to proceed.” And just like that, I was on Tylenol only.

November 2 I wrote in my journal that I needed to go back and read what I wrote about the turtle at the Nature Center ( https://treasures-in-plain-sight.org/2018/09/22/the-wise-turtle-and-bloom/). She taught me to hold on to wisdom, courage and the ability to keep looking up. “Most importantly, I realize she is looking up, as I am called to do, fixing my eyes upon things eternal. Letting go of obvious pain and aging issues I am able to relax on my favorite bench and simply soak in the pond activity: belching frogs, passing humans, bird song and noonday joy.” Yes, Lord, return me to that peace. Acceptance of things as they come. Wait and see attitude. NOT jumping to the furthest negative conclusion.”

I will likely never forget for long that I have a steel plate in my foot with 6 little screws. As of January 14 I am walking 5-8,000 steps per day. the doctor thought that was too much. Well, when I got inspired I just began moving. He says I am not totally healed yet. So, as you read this, please pray the bone will grow more thoroughly around that plate and screws.

Yield and Breathe and Listen

Other lessons learned while recovering from foot surgery: Determined to not be taking much pain medication, I broke the cardinal rule of recovery and took too little. Saturday, October 26 was a 7PM melt down. I felt as if my foot was swelling, then pushing against the padding and ace bandage and then the THROB began. It was the worst pain I had experienced thus far. Put myself to bed and loving husband brought me ice packs and iced water to sip. I listened to meditations, especially from “Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Cabat-Zinn. Husband rubbed my back. I read until drowsy then slept, and tried to draw what I saw at the apex of pain. Of course, I did not capture it as I saw it at the time. We decided I likely took too little medication that day. Tried to stick to 6 hour schedule the next day. I am exhausted and wary of THAT much pain. Pain I could NOT ignore. I was able with the meditation recording to breathe into it, exhale it, but it was serious WORK. Yes, I have a plate in my toe.

Prior to surgery I tried to prepare myself psychologically for the long recovery sitting. I planned crochet projects, things to read, and recorded TV shows to entertain and distract me. I cooked foods we liked and froze them. Taking my iPhone to the basement I photographed every storage shelf in the pantry area and shelves in the freezer so that when people asked me where something was, I might be able to direct them to the correct area. Even the upstairs kitchen pantry was photographed. I planned clothing that was easy to get on over huge bandage and cast. What I did not realize was just how difficult it can be to sit idle for a long time after a fairly active life! My step count had dropped to around 3,000 steps per day prior to surgery due to pain in my foot. Taking that to near zero and letting go of all household responsibility was something I had not done in several years. I think that like childbirth, we tend to forget the miserable times in life, or at least, to gloss over them. Sitting still and staying cheerful for weeks on end is work! I sometimes found myself fantasizing about just getting up and walking.

October 28, 2 weeks after the surgery, I had a major emotional meltdown. I did not see it coming. I was exploring crochet patterns online for a small turtle to remind me like Aesop’s fable that “slow and steady wins the race.” Was having difficulty signing on to my favorite site.

Suddenly and rapidly the anxiety was upon me. The surgeon had wrapped my foot in thick layers of cotton batting, then gauze, then a bent splint to hold it in place and then ace bandages. It was quite a thick contraption. About 3:45 PM I had a terrible dry skin/hurt combination on my lower calf that undid me. I could not reach far enough inside the cotton-batting of the bandage to get cream on the spot. Even using a plastic knife handle and then a chopstick I could not reach it. And then I became desperate. {Now where were the ears to hear that admonition to trust in the Lord?}

Desperate for relief, frantic and wanting to throw off the bandage and walk away, I began to cry. I cried in fruitless frustration and helplessness, knowing I had to sit still for the bones to heal and anchor this metal plate and 6 screws to my toe.

I texted a dear, faithful friend for prayer. I called out to Bob to come help me.  I told Alexa to turn on meditation music. I sat and cried and tried to breathe as Bob got me a fresh ice pack to apply on the misery location on my calf. Focused on my breath. Over a period of time I took it all down a notch, and then another notch, and then another. Went back to find the correct online screen to sign in to Ravelry. Purchased the turtle pattern, printed it and relaxed even more. Eventually, I had to put ace bandages back on so I could roll to the bathroom. I was exhausted.

Psalm 37:5 (HCSB)  Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV2011)  Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

What is the purpose of telling you these struggles? The journal entries above describe what I did outwardly. Inwardly, I fell into God’s arms. I yielded my heart to Him. He touched me in my weakness. If you have not traveled to that point of helplessness (or one like it) you likely have no idea what I am writing about. If you have been there, you might remember the sweet relief that comes from throwing yourself on the mercy of Christ. My feelings had escalated out of control. There was not much warning that I can recall now. When I hit the wall and realized only the touch of the Holy Spirit could return me to my right mind, I knew it was time to yield. If the ice had not relieved the dry skin/hurt, I had bandage scissors at the ready to open that one spot for some cream! I did not have to use them. The idea to have Bob find the scissors came to me only when I chose to breathe and be led through that valley. No one can make you decide in those frantic moments  to yield and breathe and listen. I believe we are each given the opportunity to choose in those types of situations. Repeated practice has helped me begin to choose Proverbs 3:6 more quickly. Other translations read “in all your ways ACKNOWLEDGE Him.”

Isaiah 55 still holds true in my life: Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV2011)  “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Oh Lord, continue to lead and guide me, I pray.

Slow and steady, Molly Lin. Slow and steady progress towards healing.

Happy New Year!

I last posted in October 2019. Then I had scheduled foot surgery and fell off the grid. Had really hoped to blog during that time. Total anesthesia and recovery in this older body did not permit that. When I was finally allowed to walk the holidays were upon us and I got caught up in those preparations and learning how to walk with this repaired foot. I hope to resume writing with regularity and with gusto!

Recently I made a retreat at the Convent of the Transfiguration where I am an associate. I had missed making scheduled biannual silent retreats over the last two years because of travel, illness, etc. I saw a little opening in the January calendar and made a private silent retreat. During that time I prayed about whether to continue writing the blog. The answer seemed to be a resounding “Yes!”

Here is my journal synopsis from that time:

Father, I want to do the work You have given me to do. As deFoucauld wrote and prayed, I am placing ‘myself in Your hands without reserve in boundless confidence because You are MY FATHER.’

Robert Dutina captured my heart towards the Lord with this photo from Los Angeles, Ca.

“I will proclaim by word and example the good news of God in Christ.” I will with God’s help resume the blog writing to His glory, showing forth His power during my recovery from surgery, the lessons I learned in the weeks of waiting.

Monday October 14, 2019

Scheduled toe surgery went off without a hitch. Surgeon cleaned up arthritic joint, turned bone around, placed the plate, secured with screws, injected area with my own cells that were taken from my heel bone and spun down. Closed me up with stitches and layers of bandages.

There were a few surprises for the patient and her husband though! First, I was not allowed to use the knee roller until the nerve block in that leg had totally worn off. I was not strong enough to tolerate crutches, so Bob had to wait upon me with a wheelchair to the bathroom and any other place I wanted to relocate. It took several days for that nerve block to wear off. In the end, I was so grateful not to be feeling the first post-surgical pain and took much less pain medication than expected. It was however humbling to have to ask him for help moving about. Fibromyalgia and arthritis pain are mean. Using crutches every place would have been so difficult.

Before the surgery the admonition to trust God during this process was driven home several times and especially through Psalm 37 verses 3 and 5. So I made it my business to trust Him in these weeks of sitting. I had to be careful to not put weight on my foot lest the plate and six screws be moved out of place. The goal was to stay still so that bone could begin to grow around the plate to help anchor everything in place. (For a further discussion see

Psalm 37:3 (NRSV)  Trust in the LORD, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.

Psalm 37:5 (HCSB)  Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act