Newness From the Pain

I woke up and swung my legs over the side of the bed just like any other day. Rubbed my eyes for a second to adjust to the light in the room. And suddenly, PAIN. My lower legs were writhing in pain. Excruciating pain. Instantly I’m reminded of the second degree burns on the front of my lower legs. I didn’t realize it was possible to get second degree burns from a sunburn but I know now. I won’t gross you out with the details but if you google second degree sunburns you will find that it looks horrible and I can now attest that it feels way worse than it looks. I will go far enough to say that the skin was obviously damaged beyond the surface. The best way I can describe the pain when standing (or trying to stand) was that if felt like my skin was tearing away from the muscle. But the pain was necessary. It was the evidence that the blood was flowing to the damaged area carrying with it the things that would fight infection and bring healing to the damaged flesh. It was the healing process in action. It was painful but it was necessary. To add insult to injury, this happened on day 2 of our 8 day family vacation. So, for the next 3 days when we got off the boat to explore and shop and shop and shop and,,,, oh, sorry. I got carried away there. Anyway, for the next three days I went through the initial agonizing pain as I got out of bed while the blood rushed down to my legs and then the constant throbbing and aching which was actually worse standing still than when walking. By days four and five it was so painful that I just stayed in bed most of the time or at least in a chair with my legs elevated. Although we made the most of it, our vacation was certainly less enjoyable to say the least. Now, I’ve had some good ole fashioned sunburns before and some were pretty rough but nothing like this. Normally, by day three the skin doesn’t hurt to touch and most of the redness is gone and a tan starts to take its place. But in this case the burn was bad enough that the healing process would be lengthy and painful. But, it was healing.

Now in my previous sun burns it was a little bit of surface pain and just the top thin layer of skin peeled away and the drama was over. But in this one, the second degree burn, the damage and pain was much deeper. The damage went into the deeper layers of the skin and so did the pain. And, instead of two or three days of pain an peeling it was two or three weeks. Thank God it wasn’t third degree burns. The damage is far more severe as is the pain. The healing process takes much more time and can require surgery as well.

In either first or second degree cases there is a burn (event), there is the pain and possibly swelling (healing process), and newness revealed (fresh smooth skin). New, fresh, soft skin is revealed after the healing process is complete. In more severe cases some scarring can result. Mild sunburns happen often, for many of us we get one or more each year. Second degree sunburns don’t happen very often. Most of us won’t experience a second degree sunburn and those of us that do learn a valuable lesson in using sunblock. Third degree sunburns are very rare and most of us don’t even know anyone whose experienced one let alone had one ourselves. The first degree sunburns are typically no big deal afterwards and once the visual evidence is gone we never really think about it again. At least not until the next one. Second degree sunburns leave a lasting impression in our memory and sometimes on our skin. We will tell stories about those for a long time and they will likely change the way we behave and perhaps even how we look. Third degree sunburns undoubtedly leave mental scars as well as physical ones. They are the most traumatic and leave us sharing the most interesting stories of all.

Our lives can be much the same. The little things or events don’t hurt much. The pain is minimal and we probably won’t talk about it much. In fact we might even laugh about it at the water cooler or the gym or at lunch. Chances are that we won’t change much as a result. Oh we will likely be more alert in the future and might even be a little more cautious as a result, but it won’t change us. It might even change our behavior a little but it won’t change us. The second degree kind of events are more impactful. They hurt a lot more and take a lot more time to overcome. In fact, the real healing process can be more painful than the hurt from the event itself but we can get through it. When the damage peels away and the healing is complete it reveals something new. There is something fresh and tender exposed. We are often very shy and careful and maybe even fearful to expose that part of our lives again. But the newness is still there. We might have had the third degree kind of event. The kind that doesn’t just cause damage and pain but actually causes a part of us to die. The pain is so deep and severe that a part of our heart seems to die. If that isn’t treated properly and is left there, not dealt with, it can destroy even more than the initial hurt did. It can slowly infect other areas of our lives and destroy healthy areas that weren’t effected in the initial hurt. And if not dealt with it can take us out completely. Just like the severity of that kind of wound, the healing process is most difficult and painful. That’s’ because what’s in the body naturally isn’t enough to overcome the damage on its own. In this scenario we might need to cut away the dead damaged part so that it doesn’t cause more damage in the healthy parts of our lives. It’s painful, but sometimes that’s necessary for the true healing to begin. The pain is part of the healing process. And just like in the healing process of the third degree burns, sometimes we have to cut away the damaged part and graft in something healthy. That protects the raw and sensitive area while the healing process continues. And, over time, as the healing process  completes we become more confident and strong enough to venture again.

We all go through events in our lives that cause pain. The healing process from those events can be even more painful. But, if we will allow the healing process to complete, there will be a newness that follows and a testimony to tell. The severity of the event and the severity of the healing process will determine the intensity of our stories.  But if we will press forward and endure the healing process, we will be able to tell our story. Our story might actually prevent others from having to endure what we went through.

Be Healed, Tell Your Story, and Be Blessed.


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