As I progress with my knee, I find I am still limping along not because I have to exactly, but because it is my habit. A year plus of not being capable of having a normal stride has taken a toll, not only on my body, but also my mental state. I cannot yet get up and walk without pain. I feel like it will be possible someday, but at this point I’m not there. What I see about this is that the constant battle comes with a price. It is subtle. A slow wearing down. Many days I feel defeated and tired of the ache, yet if I do not push I will not progress, so I go again. To me the progression seems snail’s-pace slow, but I AM progressing. I have to tell myself that in order to remember it. I have made it to the point that, on a good day, I can take a normal stride. I have found that as great as that is, it is not automatic anymore. I have to think about each part of the step, and say in my head, “relax, heel, toe, straighten, bend, shoulders back, hips straight, head up.” Did you even know you do all that with EVERY step you take? You don’t even have to think about it, you just do it. My muscles cannot remember all of that. It takes my brain getting involved and a lot of practice because now it is all NEW. Crazy as that sounds. My default is the wrong way to walk. I am having to retrain myself in the midst of the pain of it all, and even when it is not hurting much, I still limp because of FEAR of pain. Every step has been excruciating in the past. My leg remembers that and sends fearful messages: Do not step…avoid pain. Hike the hip, keep the leg straight, lean forward. Anything to avoid hurting.
All of this has me wondering. (You knew I was headed somewhere with this.) I wonder if it works the same with heart injuries? What if the pain of a broken heart resets our normal function to a limp, figuratively speaking? Heartache is part of life. Death, divorce, health problems, relationships, dysfunction, fill in the blank with your own issues…all take a toll on our hearts. Yet in the midst of our pain we must keep moving…to sit would be a disastrous heart deepfreeze. The question is what do we do to recover our hearts? Shut them up tight? Lock them up and throw away the key? So whenever there is fear of pain…not actual pain mind you…but just the idea that there could be, we withdraw into the solitary place we have created. It is our default. We wonder what it is that is wrong when life isn’t going smoothly and why we feel so isolated in the midst of it all. We limp, until we allow Grace to come rescue our hearts. His love is a healing balm that fixes what is broken at its core. Even then, we still have to practice. Our fear of pain tries to keep us captive. We have to remember to say in our heads, “step, move forward, chin up, do not be afraid, I am lovable, I am worthy, I am beautiful, I am whole, I belong, lift my face.” Eventually, those messages will become our default, and we will actually believe them. Most likely, it will take a lifetime and come in stages, layers, and phases like any recovery does. Then, one day…automatic. No more fear. An open heart, which is transparent and free to love. Totally worth it.