By Mater Dolorosa.
A few months back I was getting up off the floor and I felt a twinge of pain in my leg. Ugh! I guess I pulled a muscle. So for a few days I iced it and heated it and stretched it. It still hurt but I got tired of taking care of it. I figured after a few more days it would go away.
But it didn’t.
As a matter of fact, it started getting worse. It was easy to ignore or forget about because it didn’t hurt constantly. But if I moved my leg in a certain way, the stabbing pain came out of nowhere and was blinding. As this continued, week after week, month after month, I started to get worried. Shouldn’t this have gone away by now? Is this something more serious? Do I have a tumor or something?
During this time, I started seeing a physical therapist about something else. She tried to get me to do a certain stretch and I couldn’t because of the terrible pain. So she stopped what she was planning on doing and focused on that crazy muscle that I had been ignoring.
Recently I have come to realize there are parts of my heart that are just like this. They are super tense and need help. They aren’t constantly nagging so I don’t know they are there. But suddenly, if I am put in the right situation, OUCH! The stabbing pain can’t be ignored.
I’ve prayed about those things here and there, on and off. They seem to kind of go away, but then once a certain thing happens again, they rear up. What am I supposed to do? Where did that come from? Why is this taking so long to heal? Why am I not over this?
With my leg, it took a while, but the physical therapist was able to find a certain position I could be in to slowly give me relief. I asked her how I would know how much I should stretch it. (I have a tendency to be a “no pain, no gain” person but this time I had enough sense to realize that was not the correct approach). She explained that I wasn’t trying to stretch the muscle, I was trying to relax and get it to release.
Release? What does that even mean?
But as I took the exercise home, I started to understand. I couldn’t just set aside 5 minutes for some stretching. I needed to prop myself up with pillows and just try to relax and let the muscle calm down. It had been in such distress for months; I needed to give it time to realize everything was okay. I had to prop it up with sturdy things. Nothing slippery could suffice. My body knew it might slip out and wouldn’t relax. And I had to lie there for a long time and let it gradually calm down. Then I needed to take a quick break, and do it again, and then a third time. And then the next day, the same thing. After a few weeks of this, it is much better, though I still have more to do.
In my prayer, it is the same way. I can’t just toss up a few prayers about these deeps hurts for a couple of minutes each day and wonder why they aren’t really going away. I need to spend dedicated time with the Lord. I need to relax and hand those things over to Him. I need to release those hurts – truly let them go. And most of all, I need to be patient with myself and my heart. Just as our bodies need time to heal and recover, so do our hearts.
How about you? How have you been able to let go? Please share your insights below! God bless you.
Such an awesome analogy. Relaxing in God’s presence and allowing his touch to heal my heart is a constant struggle. It’s about growing in patience and letting go of control of this process. I have been recently reminded that some heart hurts will always remain tender– all I can do i invite Him in.
Thank you for the beautiful connection between the two! So True!
For me, I found having a prayer journal very helpful with trying to let go. It has been about 2 years since I came home, and yet, just when I think I am mostly healed, God opens up another aspect of my heart that needs healing. I found prayer journaling helped me to process these different aspects of my heart with the Lord ?
This is so timely for me…the past few days I’ve been really struggling with “Why the heck am I still crying? It’s been long enough that I should be over this by now!” …and I’m not even 5 months out yet. Reading other people talking about it still hurting after 2+ years makes me feel both relieved (maybe I don’t have to be “over it” yet) but also kind of frustrated (won’t it ever stop hurting?!). I’m the sort of person who would take a pulled muscle and try to force it to work again asap, injuring myself further in the process. >.< So it's really helpful to be reminded again that the best way to heal really does involve self-compassion, patience, time, and surrendering control.
I have been out of the convent 3 months going on 4 and I have days where I am doing great looking forward to the day and then there are days that I cry and wonder why did I leave the convent? Why did this happen? What is God’s plan for me? I feel like a sitting duck. I am still learning to try to trust God and His plan but I question sometimes what is to become of my life outside the convent?
wow – thank you for this post – so timely! i’m approaching the 1 year mark of leaving and after getting a job, moving, making new friends and starting a new, lovely chapter of life i’ve been blindsided by a terrible pain and wondering why i’m not healed yet and over it. thanks for this analogy and giving me some things to ponder ? God love you!!
Thanks Mater Dolorosa, and to everyone who has commented so far, for sharing your experiences. I can relate to so much of what you’ve written! Today is a year since I left the community I was discerning with, and while I have coped fairly well with other milestones this one has been a particularly difficult one. On Saturday I went on my first silent retreat since leaving the community, and it helped me to realise that while I have come a long way in the past year, there are still some very deep wounds in my heart. It means a lot to know that there are others who can understand, and to know that we can all pray for each other through our struggles. Blessings to you all.