Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Pin Head? Piercings? NOPE, it's...Acupuncture

I know..It is Christmas not Halloween. Here's a story for you!

This is totally real and it is ridiculously sad (sad because of the circumstances that I have to do it). I am seeing an acupuncturist right now weekly. I've had to go because since my crazy, five year long dental process, I've had lots of facial pain and muscle tension as a result. I've never had botox but I think I know what it feels like (poor Orange County Houswives--this plastic feeling stinks). I've had so many shots in my gums--my theory is that somehow it has caused tightness in the muscles or numbness in the nerves around my mouth, cheeks, and nose. It's nuts but sometimes just smiling and talking can hurt my facial muscles or make them feel or tight and unnatural (or like the Joker my smile just awkwardly sticks). In my therapy I sit there for hours with (about 20) pins in my face hoping for some relief. I admit I was VERY leary when acupuncture was prescribed. Can I even do this as a Christian? Isn't acupuncture NEW AGE??? I'm sure some of you were thinking that, too. Or least you should be wondering.

Well after researching it, I realized something. Just because we Westerners do medicine the way we do (prescriptions, surgeries, etc) doesn't make Easterners and the way they practice health wrong. It is just different. God works in the states and overseas remember. God is bigger than than my box he has been reminding me of this a lot lately. It has taught me to valuate and exercise cautions with my pre-conceived ideas. It's not like they are chanting or channeling spirits by any means and needless to say if they were I'd be out of there. Sure they use the word "Chi" when talking about releasing and circulating energy-but you'd find that in a karate dojo, too, and Christians practice Martial Arts and we don't burn them at the stake. I'm OK with this. It's not mystical in any way. I feared seeing Buddha statues and YIN/YANG symbols everywhere, but I found neither, thankfully or else I wouldn't feel comfortable being there.

(for more info)

Although, I haven't felt a ton of results, I have little relief and I'm open for any way God wants to bring a miracle. I also am not able to go as much as they suggest (3x a week which they say would be better)--but I have felt some relief after a long session (like the one pictured). And the great thing is that it is completely free. Working with our Street Church (www.street-church.com) I got connected to a free clinic given by professionals who volunteer their time. It is also a great way for me to meet others who are on the street and invite them to be a part of our church on the street. So God IS providing (so that it only costs me TIME) and working in the midst of this craziness somehow. One other cool thing is this older Vietnamese lady -Lan Anh--who is so sweet, humble, and generous. She has taken such good care of me and just like Jesus, one time, (because they encourage you to take your shoes off) she put my sock on my size 11, nasty foot, because I got cold and I couldn't reach it with all my pins. She bent down and said, "Here, let me do it, you just relax." Of course that was easy for her to say, but I tried, and watched her as she served me in that humble way. Totally awesome. As I sit there I often pray for her, my healing and the healing of others who I know are in chronic pain, and those around me. It is so humbling as I look around the room and see many others coming for treatment--many of them with no place to live--and here I am free-loading. I love that I am no better than any of them and I could just as well be on the street, too, but by God's grace I have enough to live and provide for my family. As I sit there I look at each individual and think about the stories behind each face. So, just like in the dentist office, I am trying to see that where ever God puts me, I am there for a reason.

Every time you come or go, Lan and Denise give everyone a big hug. As I do, I pass God's love on to them and say the typical, "God bless you," but I am trying to be intentional that when I hug them I pray God's love over them. And I am also praying and waiting for the time I can have conversations that will point people toward him. Although it's hard to talk when your lips are pinned together but I'm working on it. God use me--through and even in my pain.

1 comment:

Justin Porath said...

I am sorry for your struggle and encouraged by your faith. Pain + God, it seems, is the most ancient of spiritual anomalies. And ‘is God with us in our pain’ is perhaps the first in a lengthy list of accompanying questions.

I wonder even deeper about this question of whether pain sides with a certain moral absolute – more blatantly – is pain always bad (e.g. a response to sin) or is it sometimes good? Some say pain is bad in that it is always a response to sin and good only because it spurns us towards righteousness.

But I’m not sure I buy that. That Job exists in our canon is maybe the best possible repellant for such an assertion. A righteous man falling fate to unthinkable pain and loss, questioning God’s very intentions, dodging dodgy advice and ultimately divinely embraced (Job 42:9). Something there doesn’t match up with a penal approach to pain. And maybe God’s line of questioning – “where were you when…” – is written to illustrate how much of life he is actually a part of.

Is it sensible to think that all the nuance of creation, our very surroundings, is at the core of God’s interest? Perhaps. The implication in any case is that of Luke’s gospel: if God cares for the grass of the field how much more is he concerned with you and me; and how much more present (Luke 12:28).

I consistently beg for God’s relief, and inevitably end up thinking about those to whom my plight is preferable. My canned and instinctive response: “why me?! why not them!” is valid but dissolvable when I realize that I am the “why not them!” for millions of other people. And so maybe this pain is God’s way of connecting us, putting the body of Christ back together again. I see your pain, Tony, and am instantly thankful (that I am not in your shoes) and at the same time wanting to help, moved to pray. And so we are connected in a way that would otherwise be mute. And I don’t know as to the theological viability of such musings but it compels the conversation. Maybe that’s the most important thing.