Meditations on a Healing Foot

Three months ago I broke my foot. I’ve been hobbling around on crutches or limping around with a walking cast for thirteen weeks.

Three-plus months, thirteen weeks, and this is the picture that met me when I sat in the doctor’s office the other day.

I know, I thought the same thing.

“Um,” I ventured, “that jagged zig-zaggy bit there…is it supposed to be like that?”

Sure, I was told, it’s “not ideal.” It is, however, “sufficiently aligned.” And “fusing nicely.”

Good enough to ditch the walking cast and start doing some weight-bearing physiotherapy.

I know, I thought the same thing.

“Really?” I said to the doctor. “You’re sure about that?”

“Yes,” he reassured me with a smile, “this is what healing looks like.”

This is what healing looks like.

Almost everyone I know doubts this. I’ve showed the picture to several people. Heard from a few with medical connections. I hear back a collective, “Hmm…”

Yet I have to trust the doctor. He’s an orthopedic surgeon. This is his life, broken bones and such things, especially in the foot. Yes, it’s not ideal, but it’s “within acceptable range.” And it doesn’t actually feel too bad. Some stiffness and soreness, a little tenderness and still some swelling. All normal. My motion is ahead of where one might expect, my physiotherapist says.

This is what healing looks like.

Healing looks like unexpected zig-zags and jagged edges. Slow-forming calluses and even slower fusion. Soreness, stiffness, tenderness, swelling. Not necessarily ideal, but sufficient. “Acceptable.”

This is what healing looks like.

Healing looks like oozing sores and crusty scabs.  Scars forming, and remaining. Twinges every time you step in that particular way, or always at that time of year when the temperature drops.

This is what healing looks like.

Healing looks like chemotherapy and radiation. Losing one’s hair, growing back fuzz. Trips, endless trips, to the doctor, the specialist, the occupational therapist, the physiotherapist. And pills! Endless pills, sorted by shape and size and colour and time taken.

This is what healing looks like.

Healing looks like therapy sessions with the psychologist. A short stint in the mental health facility. Being admitted to the psych ward. Taking medication faithfully, doctor’s orders, even when you’re sure you could now go without it.

This is what healing looks like.

Healing looks messy. It’s painfully slow. And it’s not always the outcome we want, the “ideal.”

Sure, there are times when healing looks like the instant fix. The man leaping up and carrying his mat. The woman knowing immediately her bleeding had stopped. These are remarkable because they are so exceptional.

For there are many times when healing looks reluctant, even shameful. Seven dips in a muddy foreign river. Needing a second crack at healing blindness, or a gooey paste of spit and mud to do the trick.

And there are times, all too many times, when healing just doesn’t happen the way we want. Leaving a dear friend sick, even when you’ve got a reputation as a healer. Crying out to the Lord again and again and yet again to be healed, only to be answered with “My grace is sufficient for you in your weakness.”

There’s that word again: “sufficient.” What we really need, not necessarily what we think we need, or what we really want. Like “daily bread”: just what we most need, just when we most need it.

And what we most need is “grace”: unmerited favour from God, and from others. Grace to be who we are, in sickness and in health. Grace to face each day, one day at a time. Grace to experience flashes of joy and the deep ache of hope. Grace to grieve. Grace to be among those we love, and who love us. All this grace, even in our weakness. Especially in our weakness.

This is what healing looks like.

This is what healing looks like.

This, too, is what healing looks like.

Image: Mironov, “Christ Healing the Blind Man”


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