Monday, August 15, 2005

One Really Bad Comparison

Alright. I have to admit something here. Take away my Good Christian Who Never Says Critical Things Sunday School Attendance Badge, but James Dobson makes me feel bipolar. While I am thankful for the emphasis on solid values of Focus on the Family (I have a friend who works there) and all the good this organization has done, there are some times when I could just scream at the dumb things Dr. Dobson says. Remember Sponge Bob?

Last week was one of those times. When I am the same age as Dr. Dobson, I hope I have enough sense to speak less and listen more.

Of Pounding and Straightening

More today on the "Genu Valgum Kid" (pictured at left) - lessons my daughter has taught me in character.

Yesterday we left off with Kelly's return from the hospital. She was told to keep all weight off her legs for the first week or so, and that meant a wheelchair to get around. The hospital has doped her up fairly well before she left, and so life was fairly pleasant; for about the next nine hours. And then it was, for a 12 year old, and for her family, pretty much H-E-Double Hockey Sticks.

Kelly woke up the next morning in the worst, most debilitating pain of her life. I have never seen her like that, and it was very hard to watch. I did the compassionate, mindless father thing that I often do, and showed little compassion. For this, I will always be sorry. I have a heart of stone sometimes. Bad genes, and a selfish and sinful heart. For the next week or so, we had to do just about everything for Kelly. Here was this strong, healthy, almost-teenager reduced to pretty much the state she had been in when she came into the world - dependent on us for everything. As she began to bear weight on her legs about a week later, it was very hard to watch. And in this, the Body of Christ was evident; our Fuller Seminary/house guest/family member/ordination candidate Jill was a godsend to us all. Friends brought movies by, care packages came in the mail.

Here we learned another lesson about the psychology of the orthopedic profession. Never tell the patient that the procedure they are about to go through will be so painful that they might wish they had never been born. And also don't tell the patient that you will have to cut through major muscle surrounding the knee in order to accomplish your medieval task of pounding staples into their bones in order to correct this odd malformation. And one more. Don't tell the full extent of the slow nature of the recovery process.

Recovery was slow. Slow as in continental drift. Physical therapy consisted of the very basics; attempting to stand and walk again, through the intense stiffness and pain of post-surgical healing. When asked, Kelly will tell you that the dealing with the pain was, "like learning to walk for the first time again". But Kelly persisted, she did not give up. In spite of the pain, even though she spent the first two weeks being pushed around school in a wheelchair. Even though she spent the next four weeks on crutches. She did not give up. She worked, went to therapy, continued in school, and developed
character. Character like I have never seen, through a difficult journey for a 12 year old girl. And now, she wears on the inside of each knee a scar. But maybe when she looks at those scars, they might seem like badges. Badges of courage and character.

I have been blessed to have a daughter like this. For some reason that only God knows, her legs started out in life a bit off of center. Walking on tip toes, smiling and moving forward. A scary day at the hospital, and as she slept there in a medicated fog of general anesthestic, a pounding sound in a cool, sterile room, surrounded by those who would help her begin the task of healing. A groggy awakening to the smiling faces of her family. Intense pain, very slow recovery, feeling insecure, beginning all over again. And in the end, something crooked became straight. And a girl learned an early lesson in what life is sometimes about.

Maybe that is how it is for all of us. We don't like the diagnosis that life gives us, or maybe God gives us. Its scary. Maybe we can just leave things as they are, then it won't hurt. Kelly elected to face the pain, and the pounding, and the recovery. She showed me in new ways what healing is about. Sometimes, healing means being willing to be healed.
May we know what in us is crooked, and Who is our only hope to make it straight.
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