I have been going to physical therapy close to 2 months for a “frozen shoulder.” First, I’m fine. I have seen some progress but it is slow. And secondly, everyone always asks, “what did you do to it?” I don’t know. It started with pain with certain movements and then progressed to daily pain and loss of movement.
My PT’s most common phrase said to me during our time together is “lasa moale.” This means to leave it soft or stay soft. She says it to me as she sits behind me to support me as she manipulates my arm in a passive movement exercise. In this passive exercise she means let go, relax, and trust me. I laugh that she continues to have to remind me, you would think she would understand I like my control. But she has to help me do movements that push me and hurt in order for me to gain that freedom and mobility I need back. So she reminds me over and over, lasa moale, stay soft.
This reminds me how often God is calling us to stay soft in His hands. I think we often try to take back control or start to stiffen up because sometimes letting God work in our lives and remove the things that are not like Him hurts. God whispers, lasa moale. “Trust me,” He says. Sometimes God asks me to stay soft and He moves and guides me. Other times, He invites me along with Him to try together or invites me to practice what He has taught me all along. But in my faith walk, it is not a linear path. Just like clay, sometimes it begins to look formed and then suddenly the potter sees something that could be worked out differently and wets the clay to start again.
This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.Jeremiah 18: 1- 4
One day, my physical therapist told me to soften and I told her it is hard because everyone else is always reminding you to sit up straight and have good posture. She laughed. “I’m not everyone else, ” she said, “and it won’t work if your muscles are not relaxed, it could actually hurt you more.” I wonder how many times I have pretended to be pliable in the hands of God only to be reminded by my culture and others around to be strong and independent. I ask God to mold me to His will, and then I try to straighten my back in the process.
As I first started to go to physical therapy and began to share with others, I quickly received different stories of other peoples’ experiences. I have had people tell me stories of how she helped them so much and stories of how it was not the right person or process for them. I have also had people dismiss my pain, and just remind me to watch my posture because that worked for them when they had a pinched nerve.
This experience has made me think how we are shaped by each other in an imperfect church. People will have all kinds of experiences to share when it comes to faith too. There have been plenty of times when I have been dismissed, and, I am sure, when I have also dismissed someone else’s pain. We dismiss peoples’ pain with sayings like, just pray more, just read your Bible more, or be strong in the Lord. It’s not that these are incorrect but they are incomplete if we first have not extended empathy and compassion. It doesn’t address my whole need of needing to be listened to, to be believed, and shown the full love and healing in a relationship with God.
Doing PT in another culture means I have had to overcome the language barrier and figure out how to share about pain and what hurts. Thankfully, there is no language barrier to overcome when I communicate with God because I can come with all my pain and He knows it all.
The potter, He is perfect. He is proven faithful, trustworthy, true, and just.
How great it is that the God that asks us to lasa moale is one that is trustworthy.