i've been meaning to write this post for the past 2 months. it has grown in my mind as a picture. i've erased parts. i've redrawn parts. i've discovered new parts that i could have never imagined. and still i know it falls short of the bigger picture that i believe it's pointing to. i know it's too long... but i had to get this out, even though i know i won't put it all down right, or in the right order.
i'll try to explain it this way. at the end of some of my daughters' disney princess movies (well, i guess they are coopers now, too... yikes) they have these little "how the movie was made". especially in the older ones made in the '50s and even 80's, they show the drawings that walt was going by. the discarded sketches, the rewrites, the originals and the final products of the art work. they even show the live models that come in for some of the parts. one of our favorites to watch the "behind the scenes stuff" is "the wizzard of oz".
ok, to the story...
i look forward to basketball season every year. not college or nba... but church league. yeah, that's right. we're a decent collection of players. we play in the upper league and do well. some seasons, we've lost more than we've won. but we mostly seem to be in the hunt for the season title. about 2 and 1/2 months ago i hurt my leg. my first muscle pull i've ever had, and the jokes about being 35 just kept rolling in.
here's the interesting part. i realized pretty quick that this wasn't a cramp or just a little something. i couldn't believe it had happened. i was frustrated, but at the same time i knew that it was out of my control. i didn't want to miss any games, and at the same time i felt resigned to my fate. first game that i had to miss i wasn't exactly at peace. maybe numb and feeling stuck was a good way to put it. the reality that i was living in was that every step that i took hurt me. until somebody finally gave me one of those velcro on walking casts, i just kept on aggravating my calf.
i tried to carry on my normal routine. it affected the way that i was able to work with my family, move around at my job (i got hurt the weekend before the winterfest trip with our youth group - lots of walking and 1 two hour mosh pit). the soft cast really didn't draw much attention to itself, so some people didn't even notice. when they did, people wanted to hear the whole story, some people just wanted to small talk about it...
sharing it with people became an interesting part of my day. do i give them the short "i hurt it playing ball" or do i go down the line to ward off questions by telling them the long story, including how long it will last (which i'll get to in a moment). of course, sharing it also meant that i was going to hear some trite comment about "not being a teenager anymore", "being too old", or a bad joke. there were also sincere... "i'm sorry" and "i hope you feel better" and "bummer" comments. and my all time favorite "everything happens for a reason" (i could have choked a couple of people for that one). now, you need to know that i've said both types of comments to others, so i'm not judging the comments, just reporting them.
the summer of 2008 is going to include a wilderness trek trip. i remember back at the beginning of february thinking to myself "i don't know if i'm going to be able to make that trip", and "how long will this last?". i didn't want to look too far ahead. i had a very raw reminder every time i stretched in the middle of the night and flexed my calf muscle accidentally, or even stepped funny with the walking cast, that i was in pain and something wasn't working right. i had kind of resigned myself to the fact that this is the way it's going to be. some people told me 4-6 weeks (coaches and trainers that i know), others said 2 weeks, others said it could be a tear, which could mean months (maybe 3). wow, i really should have gone to the doctor, but why pay someone for something i just wanted to go away, and that with me doing the minimum of icing and wrapping and elevating several times a day (along with resting it), it should go away... right? so i was caught wondering ... which was kind of a scary/frustating place to be. i wanted an answer, not a "you'll know when it feels better" answer. i needed something concrete.
the pain: well, i'd be lying if i told you i didn't do my limit most of the days on ibuprophen (sp?). i was even tempted by my left over vicatin (now that's the good stuff - except that it renders me useless to useful to the rest of the world...). the begining stages was a ice pick stabbing me any time i pushed my foot down. i conjured up some funny ways of walking. at the most unexpected times i would do something not realizing it and re-activate that sharp pain. wow, it was sharp! but most of the time is was a nag. there was an underlying pain that was driving me nuts (kind of like a high pitch ring that annoys the heck out of ya), and would sometimes make me twitch... which would hurt.
i just seemed to be in a dark tunnel. i couldn't see light at the end of my calf injury. i was stuck being this person that was hurt. yes, i was able to function pretty well at work, and at home. but i needed my leg for both work and family life. it was a constant pain... and a reminder that i was missing out on something i loved dearly, playing basketball with my friends. i had some guilt, thinking i was letting my friends down on the team, too. maybe i had done something wrong that made this happen to me? did i not stretch? was i focused to much on a noon basketball game and God stepped in and took it away? so i had a bunch of weird feelings about the whole thing.
after 2 weeks it got old and at the same time i kind of grew into the mental role of "this is how it's going to be..." my leg was pretty swollen still. i began to experiment with just trying to walk in a straight line on my treadmill... slowly. so i took the cast off and tried some more the next day. during the 3rd week, i slowly began jogging on it. some steps i'd feel a tweek in it... most i didn't.
on my first game back, i warmed it up, stretched it out, warmed it up, stretched it out, and ran on my heel most of the night. after 5 minutes of being in, kory got me a pass on a fast break and i jumped with both legs for my shot... and "snag" i felt it. i think i even yelped a little bit. but i landed and kept on going (albeit on my heel without pushing off very much). my leg was noticeably swollen after the game, and the "high pitch" pain was there for a few more weeks... and i continued to ice, rest, stretch...
i'm thankful for the ones around me that shared with me what helped them. certain stretches. lending me $300 walking boots for free. encouraging me get better. helping me strap on the ice onto my leg. still making me feel like part of the team even whe i wasn't contributing... i just kept showing up (a whole other great lesson) even though i wasn't able to play.
i've got several friends who have been going through life, just as i have, and snagged on something (loss of a child, loss of a friend, multiple miscarriages - by one couple, one miscarriage - which is one too many, loss of a parent or family member, family split, ...). it causes pain, and yet they have to go on with life, feeling altered. feeling no control. feeling pain. feeling frustrated. feeling the "dark tunnel". feeling the "i'm missing out on something i love" feeling. feeling the uncertainty of "will it ever be back to normal" or "will i ever be normal". i've never directly experienced it. i feel as if i've tried to understand, love, care for, give God space to heal them, be used by God to help heal, that i still didn't understand. i've still said trite things. i've tried to show the lighter side or brighter side. i've settled for the short answer, not allowing or wanting to let others open up, feeling safe about doing so. i've wondered "when will they 'get over "it"?' " not in a mean way, but truly wondering. i've tried to talk about the light at the end of the tunnel, having not been there before.
i feel like God showed me the sketches ... while others have had to live through the full color and sounds of the movie, the real life hard experience. i feel like i've see the "preview to a movie that i never want to see", and still realize at the same time that friends and loved ones are living in or have lived through the movie. you know, it's also kind of like when i said an "ice pick stabbing me in the leg", what does that really mean? why would i choose those words? none of us have ever experienced "that". again, words fall short of being able to explain what we go through. it just give us a picture of something we think would feel that way to the one we're explaining it to. i believe that so many times our friends and loved ones try to tell us what they are going through, and words will never quite be able to explain, convey, give life to the feelings that are shaping them, changing their life. in some cases the "sharpness" of the pain goes away and they live with the "high pitch ring" that sometimes makes them still twich... and hurt. rusty caldwell has told me some stories of the importance of just being there for his friends in mourning, because there isn't anything to say. there are some great lessons about being a community to each other.
i do believe in a God whose redemption He is working in our lives includes healing our wounds. i do believe in a spiritual reality that God's Spirit brings comfort into our darkest hour. i do believe that there is hope of life after death in a place that is absence of the corruption of this world's pain, sin, germ. i believe that God is close to the broken hearted. i believe God cries every tear that satan brings into our lives along with us. i can see Him say "this is not how it was supposed to be!" this is not what He wanted... but He's passionate about restoring this world to Himself. and yet He seeks to comfort and restore ... "to prepare a banquet in the presence of our enemies" (ps 23) because He is greater than the one in the world.
i do not always know how God wants to bring His kingdom's reign into this broken world. i do know that God wants to reign in my heart. he want's to be my hope. he has promised never to forsake us. he has left us with fellow journeymen. he has sent the Comforter and Counselor. we are not alone, and yet we do not always understand what each other is going through. we are called to love, not fix, each other. helping and fixing are two very different things.
so, for those of you going through the dark tunnel, i hope you see the light soon. for some it will be closer than others. for those who can't see the light yet, just keep showing up everyday. i don't know when the light will come... i'm sure you'll still hurt in ways you can't even describe to most people. just know that you are not alone. find someone you can share your story with. you may have to remind them you don't want to be fixed... you just want to be with someone. remember... you are not alone, even in the dark tunnel. you probably won't be exactly the same as it was before. but some day you will walk again, you will run again, you will enjoy it again. i don't know when, but i know it's true.
i hope you made it all the way through. i hope this helps you. helped me to write it. an interesting part that i seem to forget to tell people (i've only told this story 2 or 3 times to others, because it's been on my mind and i had to let it out) is that i still feel "it". i played in 5 basketball games this weekend (in a tournament). as i showered and cleaned the back of my leg, it wasn't swollen... but i did still feel "it". i was able to do an activity at the rate that some people cannot do. still, the back of my leg feels tingly (sp?) and numb. i never notice it or think much about it till i touch it. it doesn't hurt. but "it" is there. i remember how it hurt and i'm greatful that i'm able to play now. not to the extent of "feeling the pain all over again" or "feeling like i'm in the tunnel again". i just know "it" is there and that "it" is some how a part of me, even if i don't feel "it" or think of "it" all the time anymore. i noticed that pretty quickly on after i was able to start walking, running and playing again. "it" is still there. i wonder how long "it" will be with me?