As a little girl, I had what I would consider a “normal” body. I never broke any bones, never had any major surgeries. I was fit and active in sports. My most glaring anomalies were the bowlegs I inherited from my mother. But other than keeping my knees from touching, and experiencing severe growing pains when I sprouted to 5 feet 8 inches my freshman year of high school, even my bow legs seemed normal.
And then 2012 rolled around and things took a turn. Starting with excruciating pain in my clavicle, my body began to reveal interesting intricacies, one after the other. As soon as my clavicle issue was managed, my lower back declared its discomfort through muscle spasms. After that, it was locking pinkies radiating from tightness in my forearm and tension on a nerve (read more about that one here). There wasn’t even a short break with a happy body in between the next mystery as I went from physical therapy on my arms to therapy on my right hip that refused to release tension and brought back spasms along with it.
But the pebble that finally cracked the ice was the rib head that slid out of position, jutting out rudely in the middle of my back. With every restricted, painful breath my anger grew. “Really Lord? I am literally doing everything I can to build a stronger body. I’m seeing a physical therapist, a chiropractor, and now my latest addition of a trainer and STILL this happens?”
Every time something like this happens with my body, the process is the same. I become dumbfounded as I try to figure out what might’ve caused the issue. I seek help from my chiropractor or physical therapist. I get angry, feeling betrayed by my body. I manage the pain. And then I try to make a plan to proceed. But this time, as the vicious cycle repeated itself I was too angry to make a new plan. Venting to my husband, I half cried, half yelled, “I just want my body to work!”
Throughout the last 5 years of complications, I have learned important information about my body. I have what is called hypermobility, which means that my joints are extra mobile. In theory, you’d think this would be a good thing leading to greater flexibility. But what it really means is, my extra mobile joints are more prone to instability and require a lot more work to stay in the proper place.
Can I be really honest? I feel defeated. I’m sick of having to stretch every single night to avoid tightness. I hate having to say no to work out classes I used to love. I’m tired of trying to figure out what I did, or what I need to do to make my body happy. And it makes me sad thinking that I may struggle with this for the rest of my life.
Nursing my sore rib by doing nothing but laying on the couch, heating my back and dwelling in my frustration, I came to a familiar realization. I have two choices. I can hate my body, get fired up at every jolt of pain and allow my hypermobility to restrict me. - OR – I can accept my body for what it is, and use every day as an opportunity to better understand how to live with, operate, and strengthen it.
I was hoping this post would be more of a, “I accepted my body” and “here’s how you can choose joy in your circumstances.” But the reality is, I cannot wrap this story up in a pretty little bow because this is something I am still working through.
I don’t know what your “hypermobile body” is. Maybe the circumstances that are giving you grief are 20x worse than what I’m going through. But the reason I wanted to share this with you is to affirm you (and myself) of two things. Number one – because of Christ there is hope. There is always hope. Number two – we have a choice in how we respond to our circumstances.
Since my rib popped out a couple weeks ago, my body hasn’t changed miraculously. But my attitude has. Am I still frustrated that I have issues? Absolutely. But I want to adjust and figure out what works for me; and the only way I can do that is to accept my circumstances and choose joy every single day. (More like every second, every minute, every hour…)
Psalm 33:20-22 says, “We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.”
If you’re right in the thick of it and struggling to see through your angry eyes – cling to hope, friend. Give yourself a hot minute, get real cranky if you need to, and then ask the Lord to help you live joyfully amidst your circumstances.
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If there’s any way that I can encourage you, leave a comment or send me an email via my contact page. I would love to know how I can be praying for you.