One injury can cause another
In 2016, from March till December, I nursed a hurt foot that interfered with my life on a daily basis. Injury to my left foot and my big toe (a.k.a. “The Great Toe”, thankyouverymuch) left me hobbling around for months. Then, my fourth doctor diagnosed a stress fracture—to the other side of my foot. Apparently one injury had caused the other, so I wore a medical boot for about three months.
All that time, I had a great opportunity to think about what God was teaching me. The most obvious lesson for me was that God designed our bodies to work a certain way. He knows us best and understands what is good for us and what isn’t. When we step outside of the boundaries He has created for us, it results in pain. And when we ignore pain for long enough, injury is inevitable.
They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result. That was lesson #2 for me in this process. I call it:
Doing things the wrong way,
over and over,
will hurt you
I have been in pain lately for a different reason. I have been lonely. Yes, I know. First-world problem. We moved to a new city (we love it), a new neighborhood (we love it), and a new church (we love it), but new friendships? They don’t come overnight.
I know about the old adage: You have to be a friend to have a friend—and one way to do this is by making yourself available. I have joined a Bible study, the choir, the women’s prayer team, a life group, a Sunday school class, and signed up to be a greeter. I’ve tried to DO all the right things, but friendships take something else that I haven’t done yet: time. We have only been here, physically, for six months, less if you count moving in.
It’s not important who does the planting,
or who does the watering.
What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.
1 Corinthians 3:7, NLT
God will make the friendship seed grow. I know He will, in time. I just have to be faithful to continue to do my part and wait.
Some days, I feel energized to get out there and work the ground, planting the seeds of friendship. Sometimes, I make plans or send a text, watering seeds that I have already planted. But other times, like today, I want to crawl into a hole in the ground instead of planting seeds in it. In fact, some days, like today, I go to Bible study and bawl for no apparent reason, but really it comes down the fact that it’s just too painful to feel like a stranger. Again.
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.
For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls
and has not another to lift him up!
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, ESV
Here’s where my injury could become a stress fracture, if I ignore the pain:
Today, I was feeling invisible and needy and wanted to stay home, but I couldn’t justify it. So I went to that small, intimate gathering of women, and I couldn’t break out of my shell. If you know me, you might have trouble imagining this!
But the minute I opened my mouth, a dam burst, and a tear was shed for every word I spoke. Awkwardly, I brushed aside the salt water and all their concern, slowed my breathing, and stared hard into my lap for a year-long minute. I outlasted them in the quiet game and waited myself out of that painful spotlight.
Everyone moved on, except me. I still had the same pain I’d had when I arrived, except now it was worse because I had missed an opportunity to be real with God’s girls. The thing is, at this moment, I would do it all the same way, all over again. Or maybe I’d change this: I wouldn’t say a word and just keep a low profile?
Here’s the deal. I need to get over myself. Yes, I feel alone a lot here. This too shall pass. Decades in a military family—birth to college plus the last fifteen years—have shown me how to settle into a new place. And digging out of my hidey-hole is easier than it seems. Practicing gratitude is a great place to start. I have lots of delightful people in my life, even if they are hundreds or thousands of mile away from me. I’ve met a few wonderful women here already and I need to reach out to them. Most of all, I need to spend some time with the Lord and seek the comfort of His warmth.
One thing I know for sure: if I ignore the pain too long, it’s liable to break me. Because I learned something from having a stress fracture in my foot—doing things the wrong way, repeatedly, will hurt you.
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