As a nurse, I see first hand what paralysis can do to the body. Regardless of the pathology behind it, the results are devastating. What was once alive with movement is now, for all intents and purposes, dead.
I experienced some transient paralysis once when I was pregnant. I woke up one morning, looked into the mirror and noticed that my face was not symmetrical. I tried to smile, but only one side of my face was willing to comply. It freaked me out just a little. I knew odd things can happen during pregnancy, but my crooked smile starred back at me like a scary mask, and I made a beeline to my doctor that day. He told me I had Bell’s Palsy, and in all likelihood, by the time the baby was delivered, I would be fully recovered. I was.
I have experienced other kinds of paralysis in my life, as well. Fear, anxiety, and worry can paralyze us, and make us ineffective. These feelings can grip us and hold us like a vise, controlling us and keeping us from moving forward in our lives.
Most of the time, I can maintain control over these things and not let them get to me, but lately I have been struggling in that area. Lately, I feel paralyzed by things completely out of my control. My mind plays these things inside my head again and again like a broken record, and I find that I am mostly ineffective because of it. I find that I am fixating on things I have no control over. I wonder what will happen to me if one thing happens, or another thing. Will those whose job it is to make decisions that affect me make good ones? What will the fallout be if the decisions are bad?
And then I realize what it must feel like all the time for those who have no idea who God really is. What it must feel like to have to have everything under their control at all times. And then I have to wonder, “How do they do it? How do they ever manage to accomplish anything through that kind of paralysis?”
I can now understand their urgency to have all details worked out and every contingency covered at all times. I understand the fear and worry over what might happen, at any time, to upset the delicate balance they have established for themselves. I understand they must be exhausted.
And I begin to appreciate the paralysis. I begin to appreciate what I have been experiencing. I have trusted in God for so long, for everything, that I have forgotten what its like not to trust.
It is miserable.
I don’t like it at all. I don’t like feeling as though I have to be in control of everything to feel safe. I’ve been mad at God for a little while now. Like a child, I have refused to be obedient in order to show him my displeasure. I have insisted on not doing the very things I know will reestablish my previous relationship with him. Instead, I have chosen paralysis. Who does that? Who makes a conscious decision to be immobile?
The problem is, I’m just not feeling it. But that’s what paralysis does. You just don’t feel it. So what does a body do then? Well, my pastor always tells us that feelings follow actions. Do what you know is right, and the feelings will come. So that’s where I am.
Actions minus the feelings.
I’m talking to him, reading his word, and worshipping him…
These are just actions right now. But the feelings will come back. They will, in much the same manner that physical movement can come back after paralysis sometimes. But that’s a process as well. Rarely does a thing like that happen instantly. It takes pushing through plateaus and reaching for new goals. Regaining lost ground is hard. It takes determination and trusting in what you know, and not in what you feel.
It’s a much better place to live. Resting in the knowledge that He’s got everything under control and you are safe is a freedom I am missing… but I will get it back… one liberating step at a time.