This week marks one month post-op from my hamstring surgery. Although the last four weeks have brought many positive break-through’s in my recovery, I can’t help but admit that some days haven’t been so easy. As much as I’d like to post the typical, uber-positive blog about how great things are coming along (which they are!) with gnarly pictures of my scar and me doing rehab exercises, (which I will) I’ve decided instead to share my raw emotions on how coming off surgery really feels.
These first few weeks after surgery my instructions were pretty much rest and do nothing. Going into surgery I was actually excited to catch a break. I was prepared to lay in bed and do nothing but watch movies, read books, draw, and sleep. Sounds peaceful and refreshing–the perfect life, right?
Instead, it was painfully difficult (go figure! Not running for 4 months can make you stir-crazy) and I found myself constantly trying to distract my mind with different things, including hitching rides to the gym to grind out an hour on the arm bike and take out my frustrations. (I’m sure I looked like a crazed idiot knocking out reps on that thing, all while lip-syncing to SIA, Pitbull and Eminem, while the elderly folks at the gym kept asking me “how much longer!? 😄) But even when I was lying in bed just doing nothing, I felt like I couldn’t truly relax; my mind was always racing, and not the kind of racing I wanted to be doing.
My goal coming back from this surgery was to remain as positive as possible. People are always telling me that they’re amazed at how positive I am despite dealing with injury for so long. I hoped to keep up that attitude, and show others that it is possible, especially through faith, to remain content even in the most difficult situations. But the truth is sometimes it’s not that easy. When coming back from surgery it’s easy to get doubtful and discouraged when you feel further than ever from where you want to be. Despite the smiling front you might put on, there are still tears behind the scenes.
When life gets tough, our natural instinct is to fight back. Especially as an athlete, there’s this need to say, “I can handle this. I can win this battle on my own.” While I do believe strongly in the power of sports psychology, mental training, and simply choosing to “be positive,” this only works if we first acknowledge our struggles and learn to surrender them. For me, that was hard at first because this surgery was such a huge, positive step in the right direction. Knowing that, I kept wondering why I didn’t feel positive and why it was so hard to have patience even after being injured for so long. It seemed selfish of me to wallow in self-pity just because I was impatient and wanted to fast-forward through this boring/difficult healing phase. But finally I realized that I simply needed to surrender.
As a competitor, I hate the idea of losing, and often times the idea of surrendering is considered losing the battle. But the thing is, surrendering in faith is actually empowerment.
“Surrender means to give over or yield to the power or authority of a higher entity; to be subject to some kind of treatment or influence…Surrender understands that grace prevails, and we can experience peace in the midst of it all. Surrender leads you through the challenges and successes of life in such a way that you learn from them. Awake, aware, humble. You allow God, and everything that comes to you, to work their way into and through your life, and then in some instances, work their way out.”
Having faith that God exists is one thing, but true faith means surrendering your life to God and letting all worry, doubt and anxiety wash away. If there’s one positive that has come of my long battle with injuries it’s that it’s forced me to more-fully rely on God. It starts with nothing more than a simple cry out to God asking for help accepting the challenges, praying for the strength to overcome, and learning to enjoy the process.
“Surrender to what is. Leg go of what was. Have faith in what will be.” To let go of the past and stop trying so desperately to recreate the way life “used to be” back when I was healthy and able to run x:xx time for a certain distance. Sure, goals are a hugely important to overcoming challenges, but if we believe the only way we’ll find happiness is once we achieve that end-goal, then we often miss out on fully living in the present-life. At the same time, surrendering is also having faith in what will be. Rather than worrying about how hard it will be to make yet another attempt at coming back from injury, my goal is simply to let go and trust that God has good things in store.
Surrendering isn’t necessarily something you do once and you’re good to go. I think the key to all of this is learning to constantly surrender your struggles, over, and over, and over. We’re only human, we’re all on the “struggle bus” at times. To think that we can handle it all on our own just by putting on a smile is silly. This isn’t a race where, the rules state that if a competitor carries you across the finish line, you’ll be disqualified. No, when it comes to life, surrendering your struggles and asking God to carry you across the finish line is a victory.
~ I hope to write another blog soon with more detailed updates on the surgery and recovery progress. But for now, this was what was on my heart. If you enjoyed it, I strongly suggest you check out the Surrender Series 4-Part devotional that was the fuel for writing this blog. I’m doing well, not depressed or looking for pity, but I wanted to share the truth. As always, giving God the glory and welcomely accepting his grace. ~