There are many “new things” that happen in each of our lives. New can be wonderful and exciting but there is an aspect of transitioning from the “old” to the “new” that, until recently, I was not aware of.
I will give you a context for my new thing, then share my “aha” which initially surprised me, and threw me for a loop.
I got a new knee, a total knee replacement.
Before I got my new knee I could not stand straight. My leg was stuck in a bent position and when standing my heel would not touch the ground. From the knee down my leg also dangled to the left, due to missing cartilage on that side of my knee. My back, hips, and neck often hurt as I compensated for the inability of my knee to function properly.
I lived with this for years. Years. I wore a brace to keep my leg aligned and supported, but it still hurt and affected me every day. Every single day I shuffled and limped “working around” this part of me that had quit moving the way it was designed to.
During all of this, I blessed my body. I got prayer. I declared God’s healing, hope, and restoration over my knee. I prayed healing for other people’s hurting knees knowing that healing is the children’s bread, and Jesus paid the highest price for us to be whole.
As time passed, I began to see just how impaired my life had become. I adjusted, but there were more and more things I could not do. My knee was hindering my ability to walk, to do the most basic things, and go places. In a practical sense my life was getting smaller. I sought the LORD and felt like He was blessing the option of having knee replacement surgery. It was both scary and exciting, as the consequences are profound if surgery doesn’t go well, but the rewards are great if it does. I felt God’s reassuring peace.
So I did it! March 12th I got a new knee, and here is what I learned: There is a place in between the old and the new that we must pass through to attain our new thing. There is a gorge that we must cross to get to the new. And in the crossing, there is pain.
Pain—whether it is physical or emotional—is often the thing that propels us to into change… into the new… into healing.
Whether pain comes from a wounded heart that has been rejected and abandoned, or from a physical body that is somehow broken, I have seen two kinds of pain: dysfunctional pain, and healing pain.
Dysfunctional pain feels like a hopeless weight. It’s chronic and depressing. It tells people that things will not get better. It’s rooted in the enemy’s lie that we are stuck, helpless, and have no capacity to fully live and flourish.
Healing pain, on the other hand, is the pain we experience when we step out of the old, dysfunctional rut where we have been stuck, and into healing. This is healthy and good.
In between these two pains, I learned a profound lesson: Healing pain is, initially, worse than dysfunctional pain! It holds the promise of abundant life, but its intensity can be intimidating… if we are not clear on its purpose.
In my case, pre-surgery, my knee was weak and unreliable. I always had to step gingerly and slowly and it hindered me from doing many things, but for the most part I learned to manage my old pain. My body hurt every day, but I “got by.”
My surprise was that post-surgery pain was multiplied times worse than the pre-surgery pain I had learned to live with. It was excruciating. Unbearable. My pain level went from a dull, disabling limp, to a swelling so great that if I stood for a second too long it felt like my leg was an overstuffed sausage that would pop. My leg burned with radiating heat from the inflammation. It was numb, bloody, and throbbing. Whenever I’d stand it felt like a gush of blood pooled in my knee and slicing rubber bands were piercing my leg. Oh God… I prayed for mercy.
Once I got perspective and understood how healing pain is a temporary crossing between the old and the new, I was encouraged and hopeful. There is purpose in it. Healing pain is simply a part of the process that restores and strengthens us if we have had an area of brokenness in our lives.
I am grateful for the healing road I am on. I am excited to fully live and function again.
Let us not be afraid to step into healing and choose life—even though for a short time there is pain in the recovery.
In any area where it applies, may we all embrace the process of stepping from the old into the new.