My Ankle Hurts: An Analogy for life

It’s 1 am and I am wide awake…so I’m going to tell you a story. The story I want to tell you is about my ankle. Bear with me for a minute, even at 1 am, I know that probably sounds crazy…but I promise, I have a point.

For nearly my entire life, my ankle has been weak. But where did that begin? I’m really not sure. I don’t remember the first time I twisted/sprained it – I just know it’s ALWAYS been that way. Over the years, my ankle got more and more out of whack, but my body learned to adapt. So now, after many years of learning to adapt to life with stretched ligaments in my ankle – I’ve gotten used to it. It’s part of my life and part of who I am. My body still functions just fine and it doesn’t really prevent me from doing the things I love.

Until now.

Last week I went to the doctor for a severe pain in my calf. There were a few different possibilities for what it could have been – popliteal artery entrapment, compartment syndrome, or pulled/torn muscle. I never really gave any thought to my ankle being the root of the problem. As the doctor examined my leg, he also looked at my ankle. As he turned my ankle, a look of deep concern came across his face.

“Does this hurt?” He asked as he turned my ankle further than it should go.

“No. Should it?” I answered. “My ankle has always been that way. I hurt it as a kid and I have stretched ligaments in it.”

The doctor looked at me with a bit of frustration and relief. He chuckled as he said, “You know that’s something you need to tell me.”

“Yeah, my bad,” I laughed, “I’ve just always had a crap ankle, so I don’t even think about it anymore. It’s just kind of a part of who I am.”

The doctor’s original orders were to rest my leg for two weeks. No running. No working out. I had to take a break from running and Insanity classes – those were the only outlets I had for my stress and frustration and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to punch the doctor in his face for that.

It has now been a week since I saw that doctor. In this past week I have seen two other doctors, had an MRI done, worn an ankle brace, and seen a physical therapist. The final decision: the calf pain is still a mystery, BUT everyone is fairly certain that the root of the pain is the weakness in my ankle.

After 15+ years of living life with a weak ankle, my calf has learned to overcompensate and to support and stabilize my leg in ways that my ankle should be doing. In most people, this extra usage of muscular energy would be painful, but for me, it’s become normal. Really, at some point I just started to assume that my ankle would just always be that way, nothing would make it better, and I would just need to learn how to live with it. When I started running and doing Insanity classes though, my calf decided it couldn’t handle the extra work anymore and it started hurting.

Now, I get to pretty much live in an ankle brace as I go through physical therapy to strengthen my ankle and help take some of this pressure off of my calf. Wearing this ankle brace at all times, hurts! My ankle has been so used to being in a stretched position, that now it actually hurts for it to be in the anatomically correct position. And sometimes, the pain makes me want to give up this whole thing. But, I am frequently reminded that if I quit, I will go back to having that same, sometimes excruciating pain, in my leg. My ankle needs to heal CORRECTLY if I want it to function properly.

If you have stuck around and actually read all about my ankle/calf, you are lucky enough to find out WHY I wanted to share this story.

Because this is almost a perfect analogy for the “Christian” life.

Two years ago I was an unbeliever. I thought I was living my life the best I could. I thought I was free to do as I pleased. I thought I was just fine even though I was not very happy. I don’t really know exactly where the unhappiness began, it just seems to have always been there. Sexual abuse. Eating disorder. Self-harm. Abortion. Alcohol and drug abuse. Perfectionism. People pleasing. Control. It’s all just been a part of who I was. I hadn’t enjoyed it, but I had found my identity in it. The only choice I had after that was to cope – to adapt.

But then Jesus came into my life and flipped it upside down. Just like the doctor who looked at my ankle, Jesus looked at me with deep concern. Just like that doctor, Jesus needed me to be honest with Him about my past in order to heal me in the present. Just like that doctor, Jesus wanted me to get better so that I may live a full life. Just like I didn’t know my ankle needed healing until the doctor told me, I didn’t know my life needed healing until Jesus shined His light on it.

I fought at first; I was angry. I thought my life was just fine. I wasn’t happy, but I had learned to adapt. I had learned how to live my life with many spiritual, mental, and emotional wounds. Just like with my ankle, it wasn’t ideal, but I had gotten comfortable. I had learned to adapt because my wounds were just a part of who I was.

Luke 19:10For the Son of Man came to seek and to save those who are lost.

I was lost, and when you’re lost – you want to be comfortable. But Jesus came to find me and now that He had found me, He was telling me it was time to leave my comfort zone. He told me that it was time to quit living a life that I had just adapted to and that it was time that I learned to live life abundantly – something He promised He can give me. Everything I thought I knew up to that point didn’t make any sense anymore.

I felt like I’d gone too far. Jesus still reached out for me. I had trust issues. Jesus wanted me to trust Him. I had abandonment issues. Jesus wanted me to accept His love. I was scared. Jesus wanted to give me courage. I felt alone. Jesus wanted to be with me. I felt trapped. Jesus wanted to set me free. I felt weak. Jesus was strong.

It didn’t matter what my excuse was, Jesus had an answer for every single one. He really wanted me to let Him heal me, even though it was going to hurt. He promised me it’d be worth it and He promised me that we were going to do this together. He would be with me every step of the way – even when I want to quit. And in those times, He’ll remind me of why we are doing this – why the life He wants me to live is better than the life I was living.

Over the last two years, Jesus and I have fought, quite a bit, about whether or not I am letting Him heal me. And in case you are wondering, He always wins. He has given me a “treatment plan” and tells me to stick to it, to follow His direction and I will get better.

But, you see, my problem is this thing called stubbornness. I am stubborn and I DON’T like being told what to do – even when I know it’s what’s best for me. I often fail to follow His treatment plan and I go off and do my own thing. It never takes long though, for life to start hurting again and for me to go running straight back to Him.

On this side of Heaven, I will never be perfectly healed – but Jesus is continuing to heal me a little more every day…as long I’m willing to come to Him.

I’ll be going to physical therapy for the next 4-8 weeks in order to get my ankle back to where it should be.

Just like physical therapy for my ankle, I need to choose to go to Jesus, every day, to get my life back to where I should be – to where He made me to be.

It’s not easy. It’s painful. And some days, it just plain sucks. But it is my ONLY option if I want to actually live my life instead of just surviving it.

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