Sometimes Healing Hurts

I had my wisdom teeth removed on Thursday morning. They were late to appear and late to be removed, so here I am, at 32, in a complete panic because they are going to PULL.TEETH.FROM.MY.MOUTH while I am AWAKE. I adore my dentist and his entire staff and I am completely confident in his ability to do this well and painlessly, but I also have an anxiety disorder. So I was pretty dang clear that they were going to have to drug me in order to make this thing happen. Hence, my first encounter with nitrous oxide. We were immediately friends. After the initial dizzy feeling, I found myself in a blissful haze. I listened to my All Sons and Daughters station on my headphones and drifted in and out of reality.

Here's the crazy thing. I was numbed out. I could only feel slight pressure as he was yanking teeth from my gums, but that first tooth was weird. I could tell that my brain was screaming at me; it was frantically trying to tell me that I was in PAIN, but those messages were slamming into a wall and then dissipating. I was numbed and drugged, but I knew that I should be in excruciating pain.

I remember thinking, "Oooooh sin does this to me too. It numbs me, scrambles all of the signals, tells me I'm fiiiiiiiiine when I'm drowning in pain." Yep, that's a pretty standard definition of sin. I was drugged, so clearly that's the first place I went.

But then I felt this nudging in my spirit. My heart went quiet and I realized that this is what Jesus does too. I've been in some pretty painful places in my life lately. I've been navigating really disastrous waters, but there is no way I have carried the fullness of my sorrow. I've experienced Jesus as my Sustainer over the last 10 years. He has defined himself that way for me to soothe the ache. I have struggled to feel safe, loved and valuable and, trust me, there has been a storm of experiences to tell me otherwise, but Jesus has been my roadblock. He has stood between me and the kind of pain that would cause me to black out, to lose myself. He has stood guard, faithfully and generously. He has ensured that I have a place to heal.

The work HAS to be done. He has been the surgeon too, pulling out sickness and infection. He has never shied away from what needs to happen to heal me, but he has always been the one to offer me refuge from the pain.

This story has everything to do with our body image. You might look back and see seasons where you felt like God wounded you. Maybe that was simply his precise scalpel? Maybe God is like us and is willing to do the hard work of cleaning out our wounds, and is even willing to face our wounded anger. He knows that he's healing us, even if we don't. Just like we know we're healing our kids when we clean out their wounds, even when they genuinely believe that we are just making it worse. We know what they need and we will do anything to make sure infection doesn't settle in.

God is our healer and sometimes healing hurts, sisters.

There may also be seasons where, in reflection, you know you should have hurt more. It's a mystery to you that you came through it so unscathed. I am often surprised that my struggle with depression has never hit the same low it did 11 years ago. But Jesus is my buffer. The more I learn his way, the less alone I feel. I am learning to allow him into my deepest, darkest, scariest spaces. He is healing me there. Very slowly and very precisely. Sometimes that healing stings, but it is changing the depth of my wounds. I'm changing.

Today challenge, sisters: spend some time journalling, or drawing, your way through some old seasons. Allow for a repositioning of your perspective. Where you may have had a childlike understanding of what you were experiencing, ask Jesus for a fresh perspective. Where was he healing you, even if you felt like he was wounding you? Where was he Present and thinning out the intensity of your pain? Start identifying His healing and sustaining presence in your past and even in your present. How does that affect how you see yourself?

*October 2013