The other night, Sophia was cleaning some stubborn jam off of the very old, very wooden kitchen door. She was using her fingernails to scrape the jelly when a piece of the wood from the door splintered off and lodged itself underneath her fingernail. It was so big that it pretty much covered most of her fingernail and I didn't readily notice it. I gave her a bandaid for the bit of bleeding and she went to bed without much complaint.
But in the morning, it was throbbing and really bothering her. I looked more closely and I saw the gigantic wood sliver there and cringed. I made a half-hearted attempt to get it out with the tweezers, but I could see that the situation was way beyond my paygrade, so we headed to the doctor's office to see what they could do.
The splinter was large enough that the doctor thought he could easily grab it with his special forceps tweezers (which, he informed me, happen to be the most oft stolen item from emergency rooms). After a few minutes of that exercise, coupled by screams and sobs from poor Sophia, it was clear that the tactic wasn't working.
So he brought out a needle instead. This was even worse. My child was squeezing my hand with bone-breaking strength, trying to be brave, but not able to keep from crying. Meanwhile the doctor had only managed to extract small little pieces of the wood under her fingernail. Finally, Sophia couldn't take it anymore and wouldn't let him near her with any sort of pointy object.
With the risk of infection, it was obvious the dang thing had to come out, so the doctor decided he would numb her finger up--another slightly painful process involving pointy objects. Sophia finally consented and we had another screaming episode while he was poking her with the syringe, but eventually he left the room to allow time for her finger to go to sleep and for Sophia to calm herself down.
Which she did. Thankfully.
And when it came time to finally get the whole splinter out, it still hurt, but not nearly as much as it did without the numbness. And it hurt a little bit for the rest of the day, but she's totally fine now and the splinter won't bother her anymore.
I've been thinking about that experience a little bit--she was in so much pain that I was crying with her. It hurts to watch your child have to go through all of that, even though she knew the sliver needed to come out and she was working really hard to be brave through all of that pain. But I also knew that I really couldn't stop the pain for her or take it away. I had to let her go through it so that she would not have to go through a worse pain down the road.
Isn't that what our Father in Heaven must feel? He must be crying with us as he watches us go through our various trials, but He knows they are necessary for our spiritual growth, and in some cases, even our physical strength.
Every time I go to physical therapy for my shoulder lately, it is pure hell. It's like going through labor as my PT puts my arm into all sorts of contortions that I should be able to do, but can't. The pain is excruciating. It's awful. Today it was so bad that when I got home I cried for a half an hour. And I did all three of my labors unmedicated! I have a high pain tolerance and when I cry for pain I know it must be really bad. And it is really bad.
But it is also really necessary. I could just as easily not go through the pain and torture of physical therapy (my friend told me that is what PT really stands for--pain and torture). But if I don't do it, I will most likely lose the ability to use my shoulder to its full extent. And then why did I bother going through surgery? My physical therapist is a nice guy and I'm sure he doesn't love seeing people in pain, but he also knows that he is helping them. So when he pulls my arm up above my head and I feel like it is going to split in half and spontaneously combust, I know it is for my best good.
The Maestro recently sent me a text that said "Pain is weakness leaving the body." Apparently this is a Marine "propaganda" (according to the interwebs), but I think it is true. Every time I stretch my arm to the pain, I am getting a little bit stronger. Slowly, but surely, the pain point is a little bit further every time. I know this because I can do my own hair now, and that was completely out of the question last week.
The weakness that leaves my body isn't quite as obvious as the sliver that left Sophia's fingernail, but it IS leaving. I am getting stronger. And stronger is good.
To the pain!
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