the healing process

Last Wednesday, as I was walking down a hill outside my parents’ house, I stepped in a hole. My ankle gave way and my foot turned inward. I heard a crack and a few pops as my foot twisted and I fell to the ground. Ouch.

As I continue to recover from what turned out to be a sprained ankle, I think about the healing process. First there’s the moment of injury – immediate pain and panic. I couldn’t stand up. My parents were both nearby, so they supported me as I hopped through the door and sat down.

As my foot swelled to the size of a tangerine (well, half a tangerine), we assessed the situation. What to do? Call the doctor or go straight to the emergency room? My dad said call the doctor. My doc wasn’t in, but the one on call asked me a few questions and then said to stay off the foot, ice it, take ibuprofen, and come in the next day for an x-ray.

The x-ray showed nothing was broken.

“You have strong bones,” my doctor said.

I’m glad. It means my foot didn’t need a cast or a boot. But my foot still had to heal, and my doc told me how best to help it through the process. Rest, ice, compress, elevate. I’ve done it all in the past few days, including a day where I tried to put weight on it too soon (bad idea) and made it swell up again.

Today the swelling went down considerably and my foot turned all kinds of colors. Green, blue, purple, yellow. It looks horrible and yet strangely beautiful. Those bright colors are visible signs of the healing process taking place beneath the surface.

My ankle’s trauma, injury, and healing mirror what happens in our hearts when a crisis arises. There might be a sudden onset, an immediate initial pain and panic, swelling and throbbing. An assessment of the situation, consultation with others, and decisions about how to deal with aftermath. Then we walk through the process of healing, and emotional healing looks a lot like physical healing. Swelling makes it uncomfortable for a while, so that you can’t stop thinking of the pain and the problem. Then the swelling subsides and it’s still a tender area, but healing is on its way.

Just as I can’t see what is going on beneath the surface of my ankle’s skin, I can’t discern the way God heals my heart. It’s a slow process and requires patience, but the waiting time turns my heart to the Lord. My helplessness to change the situation translates to a deeper dependence on the One who gives me life. I stop – and remember that every moment, every breath is a gift of grace.

And He is the source. I’m awed by a God who loves life, who creates and sustains and restores life…He is the one who heals me, body and mind and spirit alike.

“I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance” (John 10:10).