Years go my youngest son, age two at the time, experienced severe burns to his chin, chest and arm. I was entertaining guests that day and had just poured boiling water into cups for tea. My son, who was a particularly adventurous and curious child, just had to know what I had poured into those cups. I did not notice that he had tottered up behind me. Unaware of the dangers of boiling water, he stood on his tippy toes and stretched his chunky little arms until his fingers could grasp one of the cups. He lowered the cup to his mouth and touched it to his lip. Shocked by the heat of the boiling hot water, he dropped the cup, spilling it all over himself. The thick blanket sleeper he was wearing soaked up the hot liquid and stuck to his skin. Intense screams followed the spill. I immediately scooped him into my arms while ripping off the blanket sleeper. I ran cold water over the burned areas and applied cold towels but it was apparent that the burns were serious enough for a visit to the emergency room. Sure enough, my baby boy had second and third degree burns and came home with thick bandages on the affected areas.
I have experienced significant burns myself. In my later teen years, I accidently submerged half of my hand in a 350 degree fryer while cleaning it. I don’t even want to describe how my hand looked as I pulled it out of the hot grease. If you have ever experienced significant burns, you well know how painful they are. Even more painful would be the treatment that was to take place in the weeks that followed my son’s injury. Each day, for two weeks would include a visit to the doctor’s office to have debridement done on my son’s burns. The treatment would probably need to be followed by plastic surgery on his arm.
Debridement is the medical removal of a patient’s dead, damaged, or infected tissue to improve the healing potential of the remaining healthy tissue. Removal may be surgical, mechanical, chemical, autolytic …
The daily treatments began. My role was to hold my screaming son down on the table while the doctor scraped the scabs off the burned areas causing them to bleed. This was to promote the growth of healthy new skin cells. How incredibly painful the process was though for both of us. It wasn’t something that I could go through for him. He had to experience it while I stood by and just held on.
Ending Number One:
I think this analogy can be applied in many areas of life. Healing hurts. It hurts when we allow ourselves to “go through” the process. Who longs for the thrills of an intensely emotional roller coaster ride? Doesn’t it just make your heart pump and your blood pressure soar when you get to enjoy a heated, internal wrestling match taking place in our own soul! I know my first instinct is to run the other way or avoid it altogether.
Any time we have to let go of something like anger, betrayal, hate or bitterness, it’s painful. Any time we have to let go of someone, whether it is an unhealthy friendship, a divorce or even death, there is grief. The powerful waves of emotion attempting to swallow us up, leave us lying exhausted, battered and feeling powerless. Yet, allowing those things to take place, not avoiding them or running from them, makes way for the healing to happen. The key thought here is that I must allow myself to “go through” the pain in order to heal.
What happens if I don’t allow myself to experience the pain? Infection sets in. Unhealthy cells cause further damage to the healthy cells and tissue. Pain increases. If the infection goes untreated for to long, there is even the risk of death. Avoiding discomfort and what we fear has the potential to do far more damage to us than the initial injury ever did. By avoiding the pain of the healing process, we are making an unconscious choice to give what ever power we have to that which caused our injury. We put our future dreams, success and even life, at risk. It is not worth it to avoid the process.
Will allowing the healing process to take place be worth the risk of pain? I say, yes! Let’s do this, but let’s do it holding on to each other, even if it means holding each other on the treatment table.
Ending Number Two:
There is another ending to this story that I have to share. When people heard what had happened to our son, we received many calls from friends expressing their concern and offering their prayers. There was one woman in particular that I must tell you about. She was a wonderful, caring friend who worked in our church nursery Patricia was also a nurse. She worked in a children’s hospital burn unit. She would get right into the tubs with patients when they had their debridement treatments. She would hold the kids, try to comfort and encourage them and of course, pray for them. She couldn’t wait to hold our baby boy and pray for him in person.
We had only finished day three of the two week treatment course that had been scheduled. The evening of day three, Patricia was in the nursery and so was our son. He was always so excited to see her and I can still picture his little legs running to her open arms. She got her opportunity to pray for him in person that night. The next day we went back to the doctor for treatment. Imagine our amazement and relief when the doctor said that our baby boy had made great progress overnight! We would not need to do anymore treatments, nor see a plastic surgeon. Now that’s a “God” storybook ending!