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Monday, March 6, 2017

The Healing Comes in the Waiting

The following is a guest post, by my friend, Debbie Whiting,
whom I met while on my educational journey at NNU.
Debbie is a graduate assistant, minister, and wife.
She also lets me crash at her house whenever I descend on Nampa,
which is pretty awesome!
This piece speaks to vulnerability,
looking for God in times of waiting,
and should, perhaps, cause us to pause to consider
how we care for those who minister to us
when they’re hurting…

A few months back, I suffered a concussion. I’d never had a concussion before—at least not one that was diagnosed—but figured I’d be fine after a few days of rest. After all, it wasn’t a serious concussion! I didn’t even hit my head, just my chin when I fell. No big deal.

Lie in bed and nap that weekend, let the kids play outside with the neighbor kids, and go back to work on Monday…

Follow up with my primary doctor in a couple of days as the ER doc recommended, just as a precaution...

Little did I know how much that ‘minor’ concussion would change my life.

Fast forward to now, just four short months later, but four months that have felt like an eternity. I am in several types of therapy to heal from my minor Traumatic Brain Injury, and while my therapists tell me I am making slow and steady progress, it is not fast enough for my liking. I want to be better now; I don’t want to be stuck in recovery! Hearing that I am progressing, and even seeing the progress myself, does not change my desire to be better now. What is it with wanting things done on our time? Why is it so hard to give up the control we didn’t actually have in the first place? I wouldn’t have chosen to get a concussion (or to deal with mental illness, exacerbated by a brain injury—that’s a different story!), but it still happened to me, and it is my choice how I respond to it. How will I respond in the time of recovery, of waiting? Will I be impatient; frustrated at my seeming lack of progress, or will I embrace this time of slowing down and allow myself to heal?

I’m not good at waiting. Sure, I can be patient and have lots of patience when it comes to dealing with other people.  But for myself? I want to be better already and skip past all the work! Sometimes I enjoy the process of bettering myself, such as taking a graduate class and learning so many interesting things. It doesn’t seem much like work when I’m learning about things outside of myself. But when it comes to dealing with my own issues? I’d rather skip past it all! I don’t want to deal with the vulnerability that comes with not having it all together. Being in recovery means the world knows there is something wrong with me, something imperfect, something that needs to be fixed. Sure, everyone has something they need to work on, but why can’t mine be something I can hide? It’s not exactly easy to fake nothing is wrong with me when in conversations I forget what I was saying mid-thought, or I wince in pain from the constant headaches that came with my mTBI, so I can’t pretend I don’t need to recover from this concussion. But still, I wish recovery could go faster and I could be cured without all the excessive waiting and healing.

Maybe if I do my therapy exercises faster my healing will come sooner. Makes sense, right? The harder I work, the sooner I’ll be healed, done with therapy, and out of recovery? I tried that, yesterday, during my vestibular therapy (that’s therapy dealing with the inner ear, for all of you who aren’t versed in concussion treatments!) working on a balance exercise. The exercise was to turn in a circle, 360 degrees, and stop. Sounds easy, right? That’s what I thought! I neglected to remember I am in vestibular therapy for a reason and turned too quickly. Not the best idea—it made me feel a bit dizzy. I am supposed to wait for my symptoms to subside before moving on but was eager to get through therapy, so I could heal faster. So, I did another 360 turn before my symptoms had decreased enough. I felt even worse after that turn. My head was reeling, my eyes hurt, I felt a bit nauseous, and the floor felt like it was moving. As usual, my therapist asked how I felt, and I told her the truth. She gently reminded me doing the exercises was supposed to help me feel better, not worse. Trying to do the exercises faster will not make my healing come faster but can actually set me back!

How is it that the more we rest, the better we heal? Why is hard work and exertion not the answer for recovery? In order to heal, I must be still. In order for my dizziness and nausea to subside, I must wait. It is in the waiting that the healing comes. For my brain, the waiting tells my brain it is okay. For my soul, waiting, resting in God, is where the true healing begins.

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