Healing is a process.
(Two weeks after my surgery, when my stitches were going to come out)
(Pins stabilizing my bones, and when the pins got pulled 6 weeks after surgery)
(Before and after the Steri-Strips and scabs came off)
(My second Surgery)
(The day my stitches from my second Surgery were coming off)
(As the scabs were healing from my second Surgery)
(The straightening brace I’ve had to wear for a while, and my scar-healed fingers)
It has been a little over 6 months since my accident where I almost entirely cut off three fingers (everything except some skin/tissue). While I’ve had some decent injuries before, broken bones, dislocated hip with torn ligaments, car accident injuries, and endless number of minor dislocations or injuries; I have never had such a severe, traumatic or long-healing type injury with a huge level of uncertainty on the other side. As my Physical Therapist told me for weeks every time I asked if something was normal or to be expected, “Krista, nothing about this is normal.”
Literally half of 2019 for me has been entirely consumed with both pain and healing of equal measures.. But, the physical healing is coming on the heals of an all encompassing painful internal process to healing in 2018.
I have learned so much about healing from my accident, it weirdly has brought a lot of peace, and also so much clarity on my relationship with God… and with others.
2018 was painful, but the most prevalent element was the complete feeling of betrayal and abandonment by God. As though He had orchestrated it all, and then left me to wither away and die in the desert exactly like I had told Him I feared all along. – How do you pick up and continue to love and serve a God after that? I didn’t know, and honestly I don’t know that I have a clear answer even still, but what I do know is, my hand has been a painful miracle in every way. My accident has taught me more than I ever have cared to know about the nature of any type of healing and allowed me to see my process with God with more clarity.
So, here are a few things I have learned about healing, mostly this is for myself, but hopefully you find some encouragement from it!
These things are not in order of importance, just how I process.
“It Takes Time” –
This is infuriating and at the beginning of healing I was just angry every time someone told me that it takes time to heal. I would angrily vent in my head about how time does not magically remove the pain, time cannot solve every wound… However, they also aren’t wrong, while time is not the only element in the healing equation, it is absolutely the foundation of healing. You simply cannot heal in any way without the gift of time.
And, in the midst of healing, time seems like anything but a gift because it means living through the painful slow moments, and sometimes it just feels like it is all too much. However, we don’t have to make it to six months from now, we have to make it through right this moment. God doesn’t ask us to have enough strength to survive for months from now, not even tomorrow, literally He just asks us to trust Him with the now, and to allow Him to take us to the next moment.
Grief takes time, your heart takes time to heal, injuries take time, emotions take time, perspective takes time, growth takes time, rest takes time… Everything takes time in order to become healthy.
When I cut through every bone, ligament, tendon, nerve, and muscle (all except for a little skin) on three fingers of my dominant hand, and once surgery was done to repair what was possible, from there it just takes time to heal. I literally had no option but to give my fingers time.
God chooses to take time, and to use the gift of time in creating a healthy “us” on the other side. It is not quick, it is not pain-free, and it cannot be avoided. – It is that simple.
The foundation of healing is that it takes time; and, I impatiently hate that, but we can’t get around it.
“You Must Do the Hard Work” –
Second to time, is that there is actual hard work involved in healing. There is nothing that can substitute for hard work.
And while doing the hard work is not always the literal second step, because depending on the situation, sometimes the second step to heal properly is simply rest, or medication, or who knows what… but in terms of the longevity to healing, and in terms of importance, you must do the hard work involved if you actually want to get better.
There will inevitably come a moment when it is time to do the hard work. Sometimes that involves a therapist… or in my finger’s case, it meant a physical therapist. In other situations it involves taking a really hard look at your own mistakes and processing, in some instances it means addressing your own broken and toxic traits, and then doing the hard work to root out the problems in our own mind and heart that has created or holds us in unhealthy situations. Many times this step involves a lot of God time. And, unfortunately, the longer we put off the hard work of facing the pain involved in healing, the more painful and longer the healing will take.
The reality is that healing is more painful in every way than we ever expect, but it also must be faced head on and dealt with. We cannot sidestep or blame or point fingers or play any sort of avoidance game. – We just inevitably have to do the hard work of facing our own brokenness and limitations and put in whatever is required in order to heal.
My fingers needed twice a week Physical Therapy (from someone who I’m convinced is the best PT in the whole area!), but I also had HOURLY exercises, stretches and activities I had to do for months…. MONTHS (and continue to have to do for many more months to come). It has been so frustrating to feel like everything I did or do is followed up with finger exercises.
Shower and get ready to go somewhere – Exercise the fingers.
Go for a run – Exercise the fingers.
Go out to dinner with friends – Exercise the fingers.
Send work proposals – Exercise the fingers.
Watch a tv show – Exercise the fingers.
Make dinner – Exercise the fingers.
Wake up in the morning – Exercise the fingers.
Get ready for bed – Exercise the fingers.
The level of intentionality is absurd, but it has also caused me to realize that the reality is, this IS the hard work of healing. – It is not fun, it is frustrating, annoying, exhausting, and most of the time I just simply don’t want to do the work. But, it has also sparked this idea; what if we took this same approach to internal or heart healing? Grief healing? Relationship healing? Anxiety healing?
What if after literally everything we did we took 5-15 minutes to stop, pray, and focus on doing whatever hard work is needed so that we can heal as totally and completely as possible? It would be a life changer.. And one I’m honestly not totally ready to take on and do in many areas of my life! haha (just being transparent)
But, let’s not forget, while doing whatever hard work is needed to heal is actually really painful, there is an emotional toll that doing the hard work takes on you too. We must face straight on the emotional toll and pain or we risk making it worse for much longer.
“These Emotions Won’t Last Forever” –
One of the biggest things I have learned in this whole healing process is that just because I have a STRONG or visceral emotional reaction right now, does not mean that’s how I will feel in two minutes… or tomorrow. And, if my emotions can change so quickly, it probably shouldn’t be allowed to guide me, but must also be acknowledged.
In this process of healing, I have had to learn how to pause, acknowledge and create space for my emotions to be whatever they are right now, and be ok with that… Even, and maybe especially all of the really dark and negative emotions that are every bit of the process. The emotions need to be allowed to be, but also they must be controlled, and emotions are not meant as sole guides to what is true or false. I have also realized just how much my outward reactions to my emotions must be intentionally and appropriately communicated to those around me.
My emotions have honestly rarely accurately reflected the true situation in front of me. However, my emotions are an important part of the situation in front of me, they can even be helpful, but they just are not the sum total.
For example, the movements, things and places that caused me extreme anxiety when my accident first happened (for good reason) now almost six months later have become movements and place of joy and progress in my healing.
I have begun to practice mentally choosing to put a “pause” on reacting to or with my emotions. Instead I have actively decided much of the time not to engage or outwardly take the actions my emotions want until tomorrow, and then, if I still feel just as strongly the next day, then I allow myself the freedom to respond or take action.
More often than not, simply giving my emotions time (back to that time thing) helps me to gain perspective, and also not be a crazy person tossed about by every fleeting emotion in the healing process.
“Attitude Makes All the Difference” –
We choose our attitudes, they actually do not control us. Just because you or I feel a particular emotion or allow an attitude to be expressed to everyone around us, does not actually serve as any clear indication of what is good and healthy.
No matter what, it is our choice. Our choice matters, especially when our emotions or attitude are negative, we have the literal ability to pause and choose. Feeling and acknowledging emotions does not mean giving them the power of control over you, you can tell people what is going on without giving into the chaos of the attitude.
When things are difficult, and we can decide to see the ridiculousness, absurdity, frustration, pain, and every other emotion with an appropriateness fit for the situation. Choosing your attitude truly makes ALL of the difference.
I have found that I can better let people into my feelings and situation when I communicate the fullness of it all, but also to choose to communicate the negatives accurately, and pair them with the positives and realism accurately. – Not allowing an attitude to control you/me/us takes the worst situations, and it creates spaces for so much laughter, so much support, and so many stories and memories that will never be forgotten because I choosing the correct attitude.
“Words Matter Inside Your Head” –
Self-talk is one of the most important things while healing from anything.. Like literally talking to yourself in your head actually matters. And, I don’t mean fake fluffy nonsense, I am talking about calling out your own bull$h!t in your head, and correcting the falseness and lies when your own thoughts throw pity parties.
I cannot count the number of times my mental state has spiraled in the last year and a half, but especially the last six months.
No one knew what was going on in my head because it was often when I was alone, late at night, during a particularly intense and painful period of time with no immediate solution, and sometimes it was when someone would say something insensitive or that I didn’t understand, and I would spiral mentally.
It would go something along these lines:
“I can’t stand this (insert whatever emotion/person/frustration/pain), this is the worst. Why does this only happen to me? Other people have it so great, it’s never going to get better, this is going to be forever, how am I going to….” and then it would hit me how short sighted and shallow/immature I was allowing myself to be with this line of thought…
I would literally make the choice to change and pep-talk myself in my own head (I’m not someone who talks out-loud to myself):
“No, that’s not true. Right now DOES suck and it might actually just be the worst thing. And, it is true, other people have been BLESSED, but would I wish this terrible thing on them? No! I would not! But also, the reality is, this probably isn’t actually the worst. I’m just having a pity party. What I do know to be true is that this will also change. Life promises to never stop changing, and God even says that the seasons change and there is a time for everything. So, this is a time that sucks and hurts, but it won’t be forever, it’s just right now. Tomorrow will be different. I can do this.”
Or, I would be angry/frustrated/in pain:
“I can’t handle this, this is too much, I shouldn’t have to do this or deal with this.”
And I would realize that my selfish and self-centered game was ON POINT, and it was time to hit the reboot:
“I actually CAN handle this, it is not too much, and I’m strong. I will be strong, and I will make it through this, I just have to focus on right now.”
Even if I didn’t know that I actually believed it in the moment, I chose to say and decide these things. My inner dialogue game was strong, and I had a severe back and forth situation, but it was important to counter my own lies and actually choose not to believe everything I thought.
“Use All of Your Words” –
I have spent SO MUCH TIME the last six months using all of my words to not only communicate needs and wishes, but also to communicate how I feel, how I’m choosing to engage in healing, and to give lots of updates on where my healing is at in the process.. But, by far, mostly I have used all of my words to just share my story. The level of love, care, support, encouragement, laughter, questions, and honestly just the vast far reaching community of people invested (so many people sending food or money) in my healing has been *hands down* 😉 the best part!
Vulnerability is never easy, and it’s certainly not easier for me. I just choose to use all of my words regardless of how I’m feeling, and not expect people to just know or assume what is best for me.
I still regularly get people messaging me to check in and wanting updates or to share a tip they know about healing. I love everything about sharing my healing story with other people because it always reminds me I’m not alone, and because it makes it much more fun and enjoyable! Sharing with others openly totally changes what is literally a traumatic and worst nightmare type situation into the least likely and yet really great connection with others.
So, use all of your words to share even the lowest worst parts because people connect with pain and brokenness and we heal better together. Don’t be a jerk with your words, don’t allow your emotions to cause harm to others, but share your experience and process.
“Take Your Medicine and Vitamins” –
But for real, take your medicine as prescribed or take the medicine, even if it simply will help you sleep better. And also, vitamins have played a huge part in my healing process, even if it means going to the doctor to get blood work and see where you’re deficient, do it! Why not do everything possible to give ourselves THE BEST POSSIBLE CHANCE?!
I am 100% no longer the “I don’t like to take any medicines” person, and instead I am the “If I am not ok, I will take whatever I’m supposed to in order to be ok again.” person. – All it took was one night of running out of medicine several days early than my body was ready for to realize that my body cannot do the hard work of healing itself if I am not taking the appropriate medicine that allowed me to manage pain and sleep well.
Playing catchup with pain is no joke and honestly it is just dumb. – Follow your doctor’s orders.
Let’s all agree that allowing ego to get in the way is not a good idea no matter what…
Let’s also collectively give grace and celebrate with to those who have experienced healing in the power of Jesus name alone to praise the Lord for that healing; and those of us who need medicine in order to experience healing too, we also praise Jesus’ name for providing for us.
“We Need Other’s” –
Over all, I have realized that healing of any kind has so many elements involved in the process, but it is not possible without intentionally being invested and allowing other’s to help and be a part as well.
Unfortunately, it is easy to get stuck and focus on one part of healing or worse, one part of the brokenness, but we need other people to keep us oriented towards Jesus and prevent us from staying where we are. I cannot stress it enough that we need other people around us while we heal.
“It Doesn’t Simply End” –
There is no clear simple ending. When we are healing, we just aren’t suddenly better like a flipped switch. Healing looks like slowly tapering and moments of “oh, I’m no longer where I was” beautiful revelations!
I am not done healing at all, and I will continue to learn more about what this process looks like… But, I do know at this point that I have no option but to be fulled engaged in my healing so that on the other side of this, whether we’re talking about my fingers or my heart, I will be the best possible and healed version of myself.