Nine months after I had lost the ability to stand, walk, drive and care for myself or my family because illness damaged my left vestibular nerve, I have graduated from neurological physical therapy.
I am blessed that I had a very good therapist. She has a doctorate in the field. She would encourage me and give me the right exercises as my brain re-learned what it meant to be upright or laying down or how to perceive visual and touch information to support balance. My brain, for a time too busy processing the physical, slowed down in processing the mental. It took a while for my cognition to get back to normal as well.
But I was also blessed to have another person who helped me sort out the emotional and the spiritual. And it helped me find that the key to fixing the issue wasn’t just physical, but a mix of everything.
I told my counselor that I was having trouble walking and we asked the Lord about it. Jesus took me back to painful moments of attempted walking. He reminded me of times I didn’t want to walk at all, freezing in the crowd because I didn’t know how people were moving. I absolutely wasn’t going to move until and unless I could predict what was happening around me, thereby keeping myself from falling.
And Jesus showed me this was true in my emotional and spiritual life too. I didn’t want to risk falling because I had long decided that failure wasn’t an option.
It’s interesting how deeply we are connected. We think of ourselves as compartmentalized – this is my spiritual life and out here is the emotional and this part over here is the physical. But they are intertwined.
So, I worked through this fear of falling – physically, spiritually and emotionally – with the help of Jesus and Saints Peter and Mary.
Saint Peter had a habit not so much of tripping over his feet as putting his foot in his mouth. He could have quit for shame, but he didn’t. Even if his feet moved more slowly towards the tomb of Jesus than “the other disciple” after the Resurrection (John 20:4), Peter was still compelled forward.
Jesus is so compelling.
In my prayer experience, Saint Peter reminded me to keep going even if things don’t seem like they are going well. We may look like fools for Christ, but we still win Christ in the end. Incidentally, I went out and bought a medal of Saint Peter to wear right after this encounter. I just love him so much!
Mary helped me consider that “perfectionism” isn’t what God wants, since only He is perfect. In prayer, I felt her tell me to see that she and God are proud of me just for trying, even if the results aren’t always right. Mary! Having her proud of me is such a balm for the hurting places of my soul!
Jesus told me in my prayer that He cares more for my pursuit of the good than for my holding back until I think everything is “under control.” My counselor had a vision where Jesus came to my piano recital, listened to my playing very badly and was smitten, because His immense love for me is not based on my performance.
And then Jesus reminded me that His ministry life did not look like success on the outside. People rejected Him, they mocked Him, they beat Him. His life was a “sign of contradiction” (Luke 2:34). Jesus showed me how I had made idols for myself of success and the fear of failure. That was a painful chastisement. I keep finding that idolatry is a surprisingly easy sin to commit. But He chastises those whom He loves (Hebrews 12:6). May I bow to Him alone.
I had hit a point where I didn’t want to walk anymore in crowds or unpredictable places. I was afraid of falling and I was afraid of putting my feet in the wrong place. I was afraid of unexpected obstacles and changes. And I struggle like this in my heart too. My counselor heard prophetically the song, “Here I am, Lord” and specifically at the point, “I will go, Lord,” I was convicted. As a child, I heard that song and gave my heart to the Lord. I have to go where He leads, braving any obstacle and trusting that God can get me through the changes. I told the Lord I will walk wherever He sends me.
After that day, I have walked – at least physically – without any trouble. In fact, there was a ministry reunion at my parish that night and I danced without neurological trouble for the first time in months. My dancing wasn’t perfect: someone posted a video of it on Facebook and all my Macarena moves were horribly wrong. But Jesus, Saint Peter and Mary don’t care. And I don’t either.
We are fools for Christ. (1 Corinthians 4:10 )