Saturday, October 22, 2011

Building Bone

I tensed up when I was falling asleep. Footsteps fell down the hall, coming toward my door. My bedtime, already late, was now interrupted by light coming in from the hall. Just a few moments, but enough to wake me up even more. With a sleeping disorder and chronic illness, I felt thwarted in my attempts to get rest.

Living with a grandma who has dementia causes a lot of interruptions and chaos, which (after times of resisting) I've had to just accept. Feeling out of control is not new. 

As I shielded my eyes from the light streaming through the open door, my mind wandered to a "what if" scenario. What if I had no distractions from healing?  What if I could lie down to sleep at night with no real worries about my family or my well-being?  "It would be bliss," I concluded. I could go to bed at the same time every night. I could organize and keep my room the way I wanted it. Nothing would stress me out beyond reason because life would be in order. "Normal," as I commonly fantasize.

But just after this ideal bedtime scenario washed over me - these thoughts of no one opening my door or disturbing me when I just want to be left alone - I suddenly thought of a lesson I learned in college about bones.  Bones?

You see, I was always under the impression that when a break occurred in a bone, the way for it to heal was for the bone to be rested undisturbed for a long time (i.e. a cast). Take the weak bone and give it a rest already!  It has enough problems just trying to bridge the traumatic gap.

But one day in biomaterials class, I learned that for proper healing, broken bones fixed into the right position require added stress. What?!  Why would you put stress on something that is already broken and damaged?  Because, to quote a scientific article, "Bone is formed where stresses require its presence and resorbed where stresses do not require it."  Basically, stress trains your body to form protective material where it's need most.

As most of my posts do, this association made me reflect on how the added stresses in my life have caused me to form spiritual bone in places that were weak before. Without the stress of waiting for problems to resolve, I would not have developed any patience. Without repeated losses, I would not have developed better priorities and a profound sense of thanksgiving. Without obstacles to my health and career, I would not have learned perseverance, to work at a slow and steady pace for a long time. And without my heart broken, I would not have received a deeper love for Jesus.

When I think about healing in that way, I realize my spirit is like a broken bone. Properly aligned in God's Word after the initial injuries, I need weighty exercises to heal, even though it hurts. And whether I like it or not, this added stress is slowly calcifying new and lasting hope in me where my old earthly dreams have shattered.


joyruth said...

I had a friend who had extensive surgeries done to lengthen her leg. In order for the bone to heal though, the doctors had to continuously break small parts of her bone in order for it to grow back correctly. I understand what you mean about stress and learning priorities.

Anonymous said...

What an encouragement! May God bless you.