Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gracious Hands That Hurt

Adapted from "Hot Stone Massage 1" by funny-p

He finds the places where I hurt, and he makes me hurt worse.

His hands find sensitive spots, and he presses, leans weight into them, almost takes my breath away sometimes.

Why do I pay for pain?  Why do I look forward to these sessions?  Because even though they hurt, they hurt good.  I love deep-tissue massages.  Nothing helps my back problems more.

My massage therapist has told me that much of my pain comes from tension and stress. 

He has also said, "I know great big men who can't handle the kind of pressure I put on you!" 

I reply, "I know the difference between good pain and bad pain, and this is the good stuff." 

The good pain relieves the bad.

After a lifetime of sometimes severe discomfort, I've learned very well to surrender myself in trust to those gracious hands that hurt.  It's a surrender so complete that I even cooperate, commanding my muscles to relax into the pain to gain maximum benefit.

After I came home from today's desperately-needed massage, I soon encountered a very different kind of pain.  The source?  One of my own children raging at me about homework, kicking at me (deliberately missing me, but still impacting my soul), and worst of all, being incapable of getting past his own autistic/bipolar mindset enough to actually do his homework.  Again.  A not-uncommon evening with my child who is frequently his own worst enemy and hates those who try to help him.

It hurts.

What will I do with the pain?

It all boils down to how much I trust my Physician, doesn't it?

Do I trust Him enough to relax into the pain, or will I grit my teeth and bear it resentfully?  Or will I insist upon escapism (as I usually do)?

Normally such an event would spell the end of any efforts I might have been making towards keeping house.  I'd feel too angry, too unappreciated, too soul-weary to face any more chores. 

But my gracious Physician keeps pressing on the places that hurt.  He's been doing it for years, and He's been relentless.  He's pinpoint-accurate, too.  And slowly, slowly, just a month away from my 45th birthday, I might actually be letting go of some of the knots in my soul.

By His grace, I was able to let the tears come when I could get some time alone, and I was able to give them to the Healer without resentment or demands. 

And then I made a conscious decision to do some more chores.

It wasn't an act of martyrdom.  It was an act of trust, of hope.  And it was an act of defiance against the slithering serpent of despair who has so often convinced me that I am alone in the universe and can't handle another thing.

I guess you could say that, for the first time in my life, I relaxed in the Great Physician's hands, trusting that the good pain would relieve the bad.

And of course it did.  Jesus knows how to heal better than anyone. 

As His child, I am assured that no pain comes to me except through His loving endowment (Lam 3:38).  And so, ultimately, all the pain that He brings into my life is gracious.  It is good.

I cause the "bad pain" by fighting, by resenting, by struggling, by fleeing and escaping. 

I'm reminded of a quote, and I'm afraid I don't know who said it.  But there's a lot of truth packed into this short sentence:

The trial is usually never as bad as the unbelief during the trial.

How much of my soul's pain comes from the tension and stress that God never intended me to have?  Tension and stress which, I must add, are multiplied by my lack of trust?

Let not your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God; believe also in Me.

(John 14:1)

Tonight I sit here with a quietness in my soul that I could never have expected on such an evening. 

I only have the good pain.  And it hurts so much less than the bad.


Laurie M. said...

What a great perspective, Betsy. What a helpful analogy. All the pain in the life of a believer is the good kind. If only we would remember that. It is all healing, corrective, formative.

I'm sorry your day was so hard, but I'm glad it was for God's glory.

Karin said...

Thank you for sharing with us the things you are learning in this journey called life. Our daughter has one son who has Asperger's. I do wish and pray for more support for families who have to struggle so hard to care for these precious treasures God has given! I want to share with my daughter the thoughts you have shared here. Thanks again and hugs!

LauraLee Shaw said...

Goosebumps. Tears. Beautiful & powerful, Betsy. You really ministered to my soul.

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