04 January 2011

"Wet Spaghetti" Reminder...Get the Surgery!!!

Circa 1995, I knew a young lady who had a problem in that she was waaaaay too competitive.  She knew it.  I knew it.  Her family knew it.  The dozen or so broken putters from various miniature golf courses around the southeast knew it.  I would sometimes purposefully draw cards in UNO, even if I had the winning card!! 

It was BAD!  Not good bad.  Not Michael Jackson with a cool, catchy beat and terrible music video "Bad."  Just Bad!

One gorgeous Autumn day with beautiful orange and red leaves on the trees, we decided to take advantage of the weather and play a quick game of pick-up basketball.  Her Father and brother played also.  We would switch teams around after each game, and for about 15 minutes everything was going well.  Lots of smiling, eyes twinkling at the quality time we were spending together, laughing and enjoying each other's company.

Her brother and I were playing her and her Dad, and it was a close game.  Until this point, I thought she must've been on sedatives, because she was keeping it all in check.  The game was tied 8-8, and her brother, who was 12, threw up a strange-looking, awkward hook shot from about 17 feet.  This was not uncommon, as he was strange-looking and awkward himself as many 12 year olds are.  What happened next was uncommon.

The ball flew skyward on a trajectory that was not heading anywhere close to the goal.  In fact, the Dad headed out of bounds behind the goal to try to catch the rocket shot before the ball bounded down the street.  BUT...the ball hit a limb that re-directed it towards the goal.  It crashed against the old wooden backboard and inexplicably fell through the goal. 

I laughed.  Brother and Dad laughed.  Girlfriend did not...not even a smile.  She protested and insisted that the shot didn't count.  Dad overruled.  Let the 12 year old have his day!!!

9-8.  One point from victory.  At this point, I thought about "accidentally" throwing the ball away.  Perhaps missing a shot.  Dribbling it off my foot would've been a good idea.

I got the ball and decided instead to drive in to the basket, make a lay-up, win the game, and we would just re-divide teams and play again.

We would not play again that day.  You see, I underestimated the frustration level (malice) in her heart.  As I drove towards the basket, I felt someone's knee go into my shin, causing a slight stumble.  No problem.  EXCEPT the flying knee she threw was followed by a hand on my back shoving me headfirst into the ground.  The fall would've been ok.  I would've popped right back up, and may or may not have called foul considering the anger that awaited if I did.  But there was something in my way.  The Pole the goal was on.

My left shoulder took the full brunt of a fall into an immovable object.  I laid there shocked, befuddled, amazed at what happened.  The pain was excruciating.  I am pretty sure my girlfriend grabbed the ball and scored right behind me while I rolled over to my back.  I couldn't lift my shoulder. 

Fast forward to the doctor's office i visited the next day.  He examined my shoulder, then  brought up that if it had been my head, I could POSSIBLY BE DEAD (was she in fact trying to kill me?).  The diagnosis was a "mashed rotator cuff."  Not torn.  Mashed...it says it on the form.

Basically he said my shoulder was like a piece of wet spaghetti, that if you laid a string out, and mashed it with your thumb, that's what I had.  Weakened, but not torn all the way through.  Painful.  My options were: A) surgery and months of rehab or B) months of rehab.  I chose B. Downfall of this is that the rotator cuff would never be completely healed and the pain could flair up again.  And again.  And again.

Fifteen years later, I am having a terrible time with my shoulder.  It aches non-stop, and at present, I cannot lift my arm...at all.  It feels weak, and even lying in bed causes immense amounts of pain.  It does this about one week out of every six months.  I have figured out ways to stand, walk, run, etc so that the shoulder doesn't flair up.  Apparently I slept on it wrong the other night, and that was enough to debilitate my arm.  Unreal.

I started thinking about how crazy it is that I am dealing with the effects of something that happened so long ago!  Got me to thinkin'.  This is just physical pain. 

How much worse is it when we don't deal with past sin properly?

There are many things in my past that "flair up" because I refuse to deal with them as God would have me.  There are areas of my life that I can mask the weakness.  I can alter the way I talk, act, portray myself to others...but inside there is a MASHED area of my life that I need to deal with. 

And if I don't, it will flair up and cause me, and often those around me, debilitating pain.

True repentance is such a lost part of the Christian lifestyle today.  I find myself trying to rationalize how things happen, why they happen, why I do the things I do.  I find myself saying EMPTY "I'm Sorry"s to the One who gave all for me...REHABBING MY CONSCIENCE instead of TRULY REPENTING and having the Painful (for the moment) SURGERY to EXTRACT my sinful attitudes, thoughts, and yearnings.

There are so many areas of my life that are MASHED...not to the point of breaking just yet.  But WOW are they painful when they flair up. 

The challenge to myself, and anyone who knows where I am coming from...STOP REHABBING and filling God's ears with hollow promises saying "this time I mean it" when we really are just willing to allow UNREPENTED SIN to dwell inside of us.

I should have had the physical surgery in 1995.
I MUST have the spiritual surgery, allowing the Master Physician to remove the damaged parts in me Today.

And after we allow that....

He's the Healer, too.


  1. "The truest repentence is to do so no more." ~ Martin Luther

    Great post. I look forward to reading more in the near future!

    ~ Heather Joy

  2. WOW Heather Joy...Luther put everything I was trying to say in 9 words! Thanks for the Comment!

  3. Great illustration! Sorry that it had to hurt so bad. I totally agree with the rehab vs. surgery illustration in regards to repenting in word vs. repenting in deed. We need to take repentance more seriously.

    [Ok, here's where I go analytical:]

    However, like most surgeries, even real repentance isn't foolproof. Someone can repent in deed for a long time and then commit the same sin again. The surgery isn't reversed, it's just that surgery and human behavior is fallible. If you would have had surgery all those years ago, something could have still been imperfect about the surgery that might not have shown up till 5-10 years later. I know Christians that have been rehabbed from substance abuse and clean for 5+ years. Unfortunately, not all of them stayed rehabbed. Initially, their repentance was in word and deed, but didn't last. I agree in essence w/ Luther's comment, but could he guarantee that his own repentance would never be violated.

    With all that said, I'm wondering how can a believer really repent completely. Even if they repent for 20+ years, there is still a chance that they might not have fully repented and go backwards. So does that nullify their 20+ year repentance?

    [Ok, enough over analyzing the illustration.]

    Final thought: I love the post. The story kept me engaged the whole time. I don't like that mean chick. I agree with the post and think that we should all step up our commitment to true repentance and that it should be seen by our actions daily until the day we die.

  4. Best post ever! That is a perfect analogy.

    And by the way, Pete had rotator cuff surgery in November, and considers it to be totally worth the pain and hassle. He was allowed to lose the sling this week, and last night he was praising God at church with his arms overhead. Pretty amazing!

  5. Joe, no it wouldn't nullify and I don't think that is what Luther is saying at all. His statement doesn't slam the door for possible future failings....just like follow-up surgery. Doesn't necessarily mean the first wasn't successful. Luther's statement is true. I think you are overemphasizing the "no more." If his statement said that true repentenance is awesome until we screw up again, that's not very earth-shattering news. He is speaking to how we SHOULD live.

    Thought-provoking comment.