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Broken but not Beaten

A hard week and a hard workout in Christ's hands

I’m not going to sugar coat it, this week has been wretched.

To start with, I’m still trying my hardest to get over some sort of bacterial infection that has been wrecking my airways for almost 2 weeks. I was prescribed steroids, and as they do, they made me feel better. But then once I started to take less and less steroids, as prescribed, my body reminded me very quickly that I was definitely still sick. So now I’m taking other medicines that seem to slowly be helping.

Then while barely able to breathe, I had to still get a massive amount of work done. I work as a research scientist, I make blogs and videos for this website, I help run some things at a local church, AND I’m currently trying to find a new apartment to live in. I’ve had no free hours and I’m exhausted.

While I’m already tired and at the end of my rope, along came the knockout punch. In addition to all of the other things happening this week, I had a very big misunderstanding turn into a huge loss for me. Something I really enjoyed was taken away from me, but it felt like it was ripped out of my arms. I couldn’t believe it and I was devastated. I cried for hours, right up until a good friend of mine came to console me with pizza. (Pro tip: it’s hard to cry while eating pizza)

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And as healing as the warm gooey pizza was, it didn’t fully make me feel better. I felt like I had been kicked in the gut and all of the wind was knocked out of me. Everything I tried to do to distract myself would somehow make me think of the situation and I would get angry or sad all over again.

I didn’t know what to do, but since the next morning I was already planning on working from home, I decided to go to my local church’s daily Mass. I thought that if I’m going to keep thinking about it, I might as well be praying about it. I sat through Mass and I felt distracted. The priest didn’t speak clearly so I could hardly understand what he was saying, so I just sat there. And as I sat there for the 30 minutes of Mass, I slowly started to get calmer and calmer. I don’t know why.

Then after Mass they started perpetual adoration and the same thought stuck with me that I just really needed more time to pray about this, so I stayed. But then, around 15 women who had been at mass all started praying out loud a devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. I thought to myself, "I need help, so praying along with them definitely couldn’t hurt." It’s all just reading from a paper, there’s no deep thought involved, which is exactly the type of activity I needed right now. And again, I gained more peace.

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Nothing of the situation had changed, but I felt better about it. I felt that my God had better things planned for me than the thing taken from me. That doesn’t mean my constantly-going brain has stopped thinking about the incident and how it could’ve played out differently, but all of this has given me even more fire and passion and drive to work towards and for the other important things in my life.

I was able to start this that afternoon. I’ve been recovering from an injury for the last 2 years, so I’ve been going to a trainer once a week. Every week we lift weights and work on physical strength and healing, but this week I had that extra spark. I was so motivated to give this workout everything I had. So I pushed and I sweat (a lot) and I had the workout of a lifetime, and just like any good workout I felt extremely sore afterwards. Oh man, here comes the pain.

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And it got me thinking about how strengthening muscles works. In order for skeletal muscle to grow stronger, it needs to be regularly exposed to more challenging tasks than it encounters in your daily routine. When you do these challenging tasks, like lifting heavy weights, it actually causes damage to your myofibrils (muscle cells). It breaks them down. When this happens, the cells in your muscles release inflammatory molecules called cytokines that signal the immune system to come and repair them. These repaired myofibrils increase in thickness to create muscle hypertrophy, also known as muscle growth. After a hard workout, the muscles need time to rest. It is in this resting that the repair and growth can occur. So the more you work and damage your muscles, eventually, the more amazing feats of strength you’ll be able to do in the future.

This week I’ve been like a muscle cell. Something happened and I became completely broken. It pushed and it hurt me. In my pain, I cried out for healing, and first came my great friend with pizza, but then came the true healing in Christ. Even in the pain, as I rested in Christ, as I sat in his presence during Mass and adoration, that healing was able to occur. Because of this healing, I have actually been strengthened. I have come out stronger than before and ready to face the world in His name with every fiber of my being.

The muscle repair process is always painful, and now that it’s a day or two after that hard workout, I can confirm this to be true, ouch. So my promise in Christ isn’t that I won’t have pain, I am definitely still feeling the pain and frustration from this week, but Christ promises us that we are meant for something more. This pain is not meaningless. It is preparing us for more amazing feats in the future. I, for one, am looking forward to what amazing moments my future holds.