Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Growth through Pain

If you had told me last August that having surgery on my heel would have made my relationship with God grow stronger, I would have laughed at you.  Now looking back though, His work is so evident through my pain, frustration, and overall disappointment over the effects of my heel surgery a year ago.

Okay, so let me start at the beginning.  November of my sophomore year while running indoor track, I acquired a sharp pain in my heel.  Still to this day I have no idea how or why it started.  My goal in running indoor track was to keep my running shape from XC season.  I had just completed my best season to date and I was really excited with the prospects of being in great shape when soccer season came around and to be picked for the Varsity team.  God apparently had other plans.  I stopped running indoor track and started at my first physical therapist.  She treated me with ultrasound and taped my foot to make me feel better.  I did that all through the November and December, but because the treatment wasn't really working, she sent us to a doctor over in Charlottesville.  By now, all I wanted to do was be pain free by soccer season.  He set me up with orthotics (special insoles for my shoes) but they didn't come in until a week after soccer started.  I had been going to every varsity open gym and watched my friends practice with the goal of showing my dedication and want to be on the team to the coach.  All the winter I was not running and it was killing me.  I LOVE to run and I absolutely hate feeling out of shape and this was the most out of shape I had ever been in my life.  I was so disappointed when I was told that I wasn't going to be on the varsity team, but placed on the JV team for the 3rd season.  I understand why the coach made the decision and I don't hold a grudge at all, but it was heart breaking at the time.  I loathed being on JV at first, but by the end of the season, I discovered through leading on the team, I was able to connect with younger girls (especially rising ninth graders) who I wouldn't have had the opportunity to otherwise.  We weren't good, but we had fun and formed a bond through being on the team.  Nick-names were given, long-lasting friendships began, and I became so much closer to the older girls on the team.  It was also a great opportunity for me to lovingly and positively lead these girls as I was the only sophomore and a captain on the team.  God always shows the silver lining, even if I'm too stubborn to acknowledge it at the time.  So, back to my heel.  It hurt all soccer season, so I took the summer off and wore my orthodics nonstop with the HOPE of running XC, my favorite sport, in the fall. 

By the time August came around and XC practice started, I thought I could possibly run.  I was wrong.  I couldn't make it through one practice without having to walk because of the pain, and I have a really high tolerance for pain, so, it was pretty serious.  My parents and I decided to go ahead and have surgery on my heel.  We were all sick and tired of the pain it was causing me.  I had surgery the first week of school my junior year and missed about a week of school for it.  I was on crutches for about a week.  It was one of the worst school weeks of my life, actually, it was the worst.  It was so hard to get around the school with all my books on my back and of course, non of my classes were near the elevator.  People did help me with my books, but it was still really difficult.  After crutches, I got to walk around in a boot for I don't know how long.  To say the least, the first nine weeks of school was really hard.  I was involved with the XC team though.  I went to every meet with the team on the bus and was as much a part of the team as I could be.  It was still really hard to watch the girls on my team run without me.  I wanted to be out there so bad.  On the bright side, looking back, there would have been no way I could have finished all my homework without having all-nighters (more than I already had) if I had run.  Last year was by far the hardest course load I've had: AP Chemistry, AP US History, French 4, and Honors (harder than AP) English just to name a few. 

In the mean time, I was going to aqua therapy and regular physical therapy for my heel.  Oh! And by the way, I want to study to be a physical therapist in college and this experience only increased my desire to do that.  :)  Neither really helped, but I was still determined to be ready for soccer in the spring.  I started going to a family friend who is a very good physical therapist.  She put me on a strengthening plan, gave me new othotics, and then after a while a walk/jog plan, but not in time for soccer season.  I wasn't actually too upset that I couldn't play this year.  I missed the team, but I was able to support them from the sidelines and I was also able to support my little brother who made the JV guys' team.  He's was in 8th grade and that is a huge deal!  Our varsity guys team also made it to the state tournament for the first time ever this year and I was able to follow them the whole way.  It was awesome!  By the end of the school year, I was jogging as much as I was walking, which was really exciting.  I was about to leave for Work Crew (which I told you about in my last blog) and I knew I wouldn't be able to work out very much while there.  I did run for the first time painfree while at work crew though!  I was able to share the experience with a really good friend too.  We prayed afterwards and thanked God for bringing me this far.  It was one of my favorite moments from WC.  God provided for me in such an obvious way that day.  I didn't run anymore while I was there because I really needed new shoes, but I don't think I'll ever forget that first run.

Now, I have new shoes and am running on mostly flat land.  It's great, but I can't wait to be completely back to normal.  I feel it coming soon. 

Overall, because of my surgery and long recovery, I was able to spend time with people I wouldn't have been able to after school.  I had more time to do homework, and I had a lot of it.  I also spent more time in prayer and was able to be more involved in Young Life, and in turn be surrounded by people who encourage me in my walk with the Lord.  I had to let the Lord show me who I was outside of sports, which used to be my identity.  It's been a hard, stressful, frustrating, LONG, and painful journey, but one through which I have learned so much.

This is a verse I recently found that I connected with and found hope in:

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11

YOU are Beautifully and Wonderfully Made.


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