While speaking about my experiences with a close friend this week, I came to a new comparison and new set of lessons regarding what I’ve been through.
I’ve struggled a lot trying to understand the reasons for my excessively painful experiences. I’ve been through a lot of things I didn’t want to and a lot of things I never want to again. (The quote at the bottom may help beyond what I can describe.)
Before she died, my grandmother had both of her knees replaced. She had never been particularly active, but the process was horrible for her. The intent of the operations was correct: restore more youthful functionality to her and allow her some greater flexibility for activities in her life.
Due to failing health and other things, the intended results weren’t realized. However, important lessons can be learned from the Platonic form of what her replacements should have produced.
Everything I wanted and was going to have in my life was taken from me over the course of the past year. The person I had spent 27 years building was broken into uncountably infinite pieces (that’s a thing, look it up), and I was a shambles.
The things I wanted, the person I wanted to be was not possible any longer. After many months of darkness, prayer, pleading, and waiting, I found myself beginning to be rebuilt.
And the rebuilding wasn’t what I expected. It wasn’t what I wanted, nor was it in areas of my life I wanted change. God had removed the skeleton of my self confidence and was starting from scratch. Much of the matter composing who I was was good and would be reused, but God needed a better structure to build around and reattach my spiritual desires to.
He started replacing me, not only my knees, but every bone, every joint.
The process is not easy. Nor am I perfect yet. Like everyone who has physical joints replaced, I must exercise my new structure. I must rehabilitate myself to become active and functional again.
And similar to physical reconstruction, there are hiccups. Sometimes old habits, long forgotten come to the forefront, to be dealt with again. The most difficult experiences for my grandmother were the times her knees kept getting infected. As I am rebuilt, I may be challenged by things that have not been challenging for many years.
The rebuilding process leaves me in a weakened state that I must work and rehabilitate myself in order to exit.
The future is not certain, but it is becoming clear: I needed to be humbled so God could make something better of me. I am on that path. Even though I am susceptible to infections and things that should not trouble me, I will overcome. All things considered, I am better than I was. My structure and foundation is being replaced, and I can continue to build on it.
CS Lewis puts it in similar terms.
I pray your rebuilding process may be perfect for you (and less difficult and painful) than mine has been.
Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace.
Mere Christianity, CS Lewis
I want to be a house. God wants me to be a palace. His plans are better.