Today was the second round of physical therapy. I went for the first time 6 days ago because I pulled something or did something awful to my back over the summer, and have had a lot of sciatic nerve pain ever since.
I told myself, “Time heals all wounds.” And so I was just going to power through and hope for the best. But nothing ever healed. I just coped with the pain. I got used to the way things were. And occasionally I’d pop an ibuprofen or three and just move on. I stopped bicycling, I stopped using the elliptical, I just got used to the way things were and figured that’s just the way things were always going to be. Honestly, I just got used to the pain and didn’t even think about it any more.
Isn’t that the way life goes sometimes? We start out believing big and good things. We have great dreams. Big goals and bigger plans. Then something knocks us down. And sometimes it knocks us down again and again and again. And we get tired of getting back up. We get tired of trying. So we accept, in defeated resignation, this is just how things are. This is just how things will always be. We cope with it. It’s not so bad. We barely even notice it any more. And soon the things that would have at one time been so obvious, so depressing, so confining, so restrictive, we just accept them without notice. Like the paint color on the walls, it just is what it is.
In short, we lose our vision for our lives. We stop seeing how life could be better. How it could be different. Life just is. And we just cope.
We’re just oh so good at coping. Life just is.
But something happened to me. I re-injured myself a second time. And the pain of the second time was far worse. I couldn’t cope with it. I couldn’t just ignore it anymore. So I went to the doctor. And they gave me happy pills which helped, and a referral to physical therapy.
Physical therapy? I ran my first 10k 4 months ago. I’m 26. Physical therapy is for old people. Not guys like me. So I put it off. And off. And off again.
But in those few moments when I was honest with myself I had to admit I lost my vision for what my life could be like. I wanted to be able to run, even if I never actually enjoy doing 5ks or 10ks, or anything like that. I missed riding my bike and listening to music and roving about aimlessly.
So I went. And in the week since my first appointment, I’ve done the exercises they gave me, though not always perfectly faithfully. But I haven’t taken any ibuprofen in the last week to deal with leg/back pain. And instead of a constant throbbing pain I just manage, it’s gone away and only comes back occasionally and for brief moments. I’m still not exactly where I want to be, but the progress in 6 short days has been incredible. My second appointment, the physical therapist was like, “This is all much better than what I read in your chart.”
Look, I don’t think it takes much thought to extrapolate this into other areas of our lives. We get beat up and beat down by life. Because we suffocate on our own sin, because of other people’s sin that affects us, because of the stresses and struggles of life. Our vision and our idea about life gradually gets beaten out of us. Our grand dreams and big plans, and audacious goals gradually get replaced with, “Well I hope I can just make it through today.” Our vision and our ideas get stolen and replaced with a really shoddy imitation.
We have to put away our own pride. It’s not something we can just manage. It’s not something we can just power through. We give up our pride and say, “I can’t do this on my own.”
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” -John 10:10