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My Ailments Became a Teacher

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him".

James 1:5

If your body began to go through changes and not perform as it usually would, what would be your response? Would you press forward doing things that your body couldn't handle? Do you slow down and really analyze the life altering changes? Or do you treat the symptoms without fully understanding what's going on with you? If you're anything like me, you hit the trifecta...and suffered some physical losses along the way. Although my losses were physical, they ushered in opportunities to learn a key thing; I lacked wisdom.

So how do physical (bodily) losses correlate with wisdom, a component of maturity? I failed to learn major lessons until well after the recovery phase. In some instances, I didn't realize the damage I was doing until years later (better late than never, I guess), but every encounter with a physical ailment taught me more about myself than I could imagine.

Old Man Knee (2010 - 2022)

My knee gets inflamed and rigid randomly...but a torn ACL and meniscus (with 3 screws permanently attached) will cause and speed up the degenerative process. Unbeknownst to me was the bitter reality that I would soon end up with osteoarthritis (2016). With an ailment that flares up randomly, you can never anticipate if you can walk normal or need to pop OTC pain meds like Skittles to withstand the shock / aches running through your leg...especially with squats and dead lifts. In 2016, I had to accept that I couldn't do what I once could...and that's ok. I'm not Hercules; or Batman; or any other mythological demigod or super powered hero. I am merely a man, who would have to change some habits or risk abrupt (read: permanent) disability.

Spur of the Moment (2018)

Imagine you're at the gym doing a boxing workout. You're hitting the bags, jumping the rope, and throw in some abs while you're at it. Sweat is pouring down your face, arms, and you love it. You get to the next set in your training, take a left turn and ...snap, crackle, pop. You nearly fall, but manage to catch your balance. Once you stabilize yourself and feel the rush of pain hitting your right hip, your mind can only process one phrase "crap...something broke". That something was the labrum in my right hip. The cause of the tear?...not the boxing workout. It was a bone spur (yes, literally...a bone spur). The examination of this injury revealed that this bone growth had been growing for years until its presence caused a disruption to a major physical function.

Coincidentally, life is the same. There are things that we have faced that seemingly came suddenly or from nowhere, but reality says something was festering under the surface for months or years before it became too prevalent to ignore. In some instances (as with this), the damage is already done and your only recourse is to get to the root of the problem to resolve it.

Fueling the Chainsaw (2019)

Being tired from a long day or worn out from a challenging week is normal. We're all busy and have multiple responsibilities our lives demand of us. What's not normal is still feeling fatigued even after 7+ hours of sleep. Couple that with snoring that resembles a shouting match between a chainsaw and a grizzly bear, and I found myself echoing the iconic statement used by DJ Khaled, "another one". Obstructive sleep apnea had just been drafted to the team of incurable ailments, and this was the most concerning ailment due to the possible conclusion of an earthly death earlier than expected. Even though treatments have decreased that possibility from occurring unexpectedly, this ailment is my most frustrating because I was the direct cause of it. I fueled this ailment because of the hustler mentality, a philosophy that encouraged and spearheaded non-sleeping that (ironically) led to a sleep disorder.

Let me say this a simpler way: I was a fool running on fumes. I went months getting less than 5+ hours of sleep, pursuing aspirations and goals (personal and career), chugging pre-workout to power through 1.5 hrs (5 days per week), and tending to my family needs. To do this day I have no idea how I didn't collapse before the diagnosis, but I was clearly doing too much. The ultimate irony was I sacrificed a component of my health to do mission trips or other projects that explored various aspects of God. I was trying to be "Super Christian" while not consulting God for timing the execution of the aforementioned efforts. A hard, sobering lesson in retrospect.

The constant in all of these injuries, surgeries, and specialty care treatments was God's presence. He was always there and He kept things from getting worse, but He didn't have to say a word. Whether it was the orthopedic surgeon, the physical therapist, or other medical support staff, they said things I needed to hear. When they were done informing me of the post surgical treatment and medication regiment, the Holy Spirit nudged me as if to say "do I have your attention now?"

Yes...yes He does.

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