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Be Still and Know



After living in Beijing for two years, my sister introduced me to Chinese massage. These massage places are always in a nondescript, run-down shopping strip. These are not the million-dollar spas most women frequent with the plush robes and slippers. These are bare-bones, one-towel-to-cover-you-up-sketchy-doesn't-follow-US-laws-and-regulations-type places. But after my first Chinese massage, it’s the only type of massage I’ll get now. Those ladies will climb up on top of you to dig out the knots in your back if they need to. The massage rooms even have rails above the tables so they can walk on your back. They have no shame and little care about your modesty, but it is so worth when your sore muscles melt.

As I laid on the massage table today, she asked me if I wanted hard or soft pressure. “As hard as you need to get the knots out,” I replied. As she massaged my back, it hurt so good, and my whole body started to relax. Then she worked her way down to my lower back/hip/butt region, and I winced in pain when she barely grazed it. I’ve been having hip pain for several months--to the point I couldn't walk straight some days. I did not realize just how tender that area was until she started massaging it.

I had told Mei to use as much pressure as she needed, and I was bound and determined not to say, "Uncle." I knew I needed to get to the bottom of this hip pain, anyway. I gritted my teeth and held in groans every time she touched my hip. I could feel the rest of my body tense up when she worked my hip. She could obviously tell my hip muscles were inextricably tied up, because she just kept at it-over and over from every angle. At one point, she climbed up on the table to get better leverage to dig her elbow into my muscles. Ever so slowly, though, the pain began to subside, and I could breathe normally again. By the time she was done, there was no pain or soreness when she touched my hip. It was smooth as butter.

While she was digging into my hip, it made me think about how many times we truly desire to be healed, but those wounded places in our soul are too tender to allow anyone--even the Lord--to touch. We’ve been so hurt before, the last thing we want is more pain. We wince at the pain—even when it can bring healing. We don’t want to feel more pain than we have already felt, so we end up hoarding away our pain and trying to cover it up.

Hiding our pain is a default defense mechanism. We self-soothe. We look for immediate relief, which is natural, because everyone recoils at pain. That’s why God gave us pain receptors. Pain indicates that something is wrong and needs to be corrected. For some reason, though, we tend to think that recovering from physical pain and emotional pain aren’t similar processes, but they are. We can't stop the pain unless we give it to God to massage away.

Instead of gritting our teeth, holding in groans and allowing the Lord to dig into those sensitive areas, we tell Him that it hurts too badly—to move to an area that isn’t so tender. Or we just tell Him, "Just take my pain away," without being willing to feel anything in the healing process. But when we do that, we aren’t getting to the root of the pain, and we can't get rid of it.

I've dealt with more emotional pain these past seven months than I ever have. God repeatedly has told me to, “Be still and know." As my Chinese massage therapist dug her elbows into my hip, God again said, “Be still and know.” I had to be still and allow her to touch my ever-so-sensitive hips so that I could feel the relief that could only come from bearing more pain through the healing process. I had to be still and know that she actually knew what she was doing to untangle the muscles in my hip. It's the same way that I have to put my trust in the Lord, "be still and know" that He is God, His grace is sufficient, His love will endure, His plans are to prosper me, He will supply all my needs, and He will heal all my broken pieces.

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