As the end of 2015 drew to a close, I had the “pleasure” of visiting a chiropractor for the first time. A few weeks prior I strained my back and just couldn’t get past the pain. It felt like I had compressed a couple of the lower vertebrae in my back and anytime that I stood on my feet for a period of time, my back hurt. If I sat too long, my back hurt. The pain would leave, and return frequently. So, I visited the chiropractor to find out what was wrong.
The X-ray at the chiropractor’s office revealed that my left pelvis (hip) was turned to the left. After years of displacement, the doctor explained, I had strained my back by moving or lifting something heavy. It was only a matter of time that the stress on my pelvis would cause an injury or require surgery to repair (or even replace) my hip.
The chiropractor explained to me that he was going to need to do a series of treatments to get my pelvis back into its correct position. Once it was in position, I would need to work at keeping it in place by stretching and doing some exercises. In time, I might need to do therapy to help me build up my muscles. You see, some of my muscles have gotten lazy, and some of them have been stressed because of my pelvis was in the wrong position.
On my first visit, the doctor did a few minor adjustments. My back, shoulders and hips made a cracking noise as he did the adjustments to put my bones back into their rightful positions. He explained that they had been out of place for so long, that they would naturally try and return back to the incorrect position. My body had grown so accustomed to being out of place, that it would feel uncomfortable and even hurt, to get my bones back in their proper places.
Believe me, it hurt. I felt like I had just played a game of tackle football- it hurt so badly. I had joints and bones hurting that have nothing to do with my hips or my back. My bones felt like they do when I’m running a fever and fighting the flu. It’s crazy how it felt. It took everything within me to not snap at people and to not be hateful because of the initial pain that my adjustment caused.
The main thing that is helped me to get through the pain was the realization that the pain I suffered from the adjustments was a small price to pay for how well I’m going to feel later. The doctor informed me that the adjustments will likely prevent hip surgery in the future IF I continue to use good posture and strengthen the weak muscles. I know the pain I am experiencing in these early adjustments will be to my gain. It’s to my advantage to experience this now, rather than avoiding the pain and requiring corrective surgery in the future.
As I reflect on my physical body, I can’t help but think of how it parallels our emotional bodies. How often are we uncomfortable or even pained by things in this life that hurt us? How often do we emotionally feel as if our joints are being pulled and twisted in their sockets? Maybe someone we trust tells something hurtful about us. Maybe we don’t get the big promotion that we thought we had earned. Maybe we have been mentally or emotionally abused and it has impacted our walk. We walk with a limp, or we cannot straighten our backs because of the pain. Our emotional bones feel out of place.
Fredrick Douglas once said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” Recovery is a painful but necessary process. We need to embrace the pain and suffering that is sometimes required in the healing process. We have to know pain intimately at times in order to help us move from where we were to where we need to be.
It hurts so good to know that the pain of healing pales in comparison to pain of continuing to walk in our afflictions. Knowing that the momentary agony of setting things right will only last for a season is rewarding. Ignoring the emotional damage can further damage us or even destroy us if we don’t seek healing. We need to embrace the pain of change and recognize what is beyond the pain. You could say, we have to know pain to know gain.