Check out this blog on my podcast: Seeking God, Loving Others https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/jasmine-lozano-seeking-god-loving-others/id1562418663?i=1000534243735
At about 9 weeks from my first marathon, I am knee deep in training. How appropriate that I’ve begun to have some discomfort in my right knee. I was having a great training cycle and even though the miles were increasing, I was looking forward to the challenge. Then after running about 20 miles in a 4 day period, my knee signaled to me that something was wrong. I put ice on, massaged it, elevated it, did all of the things I could think to do to treat an injury until after some research, I found that I wasn’t actually treating my injury. I was treating the symptoms.
I will spare you the scientific, medical terminology and explanations and give you a run down. There is a connective tissue in the leg that runs from the hip to the knee called the Iliotibial Band, or IT Band for us common folk. Basically, this tissue is what we use to make our leg do the motions for running or cycling. So it’s kind of important.
I found that pain on the outside of the knee (exactly where I was having it) was a symptom of IT Band Syndrome, or ITBS for short. I know, it sounds super scary! ITBS happens when the muscles surrounding the IT Band are not strong enough to support the activity you are trying to do. Basically, it happens when you do too much too fast and your body isn’t prepared.
The only way to truly recover from this injury is to strengthen the muscles that support the IT Band. You can ice, medicate, stretch, even rest, but you will only be treating the symptoms and never addressing the real issue.
This “healing” approach is not unique to just this running injury. Year after year, many people do everything they can to pacify pain, rather than fix the problem.
- We think we don’t make enough money (symptom) when really, we never learned how to manage money (problem).
- We think losing weight is just too hard (symptom) when we haven’t addressed our unhealthy relationship with food (problem).
- We think we’re too busy to put time into spiritual growth (symptom) when truthfully, God is not a priority for us (problem).
When we go through life just trying to stay on top of the symptoms, we never experience the true healing that God offers. In the 11th chapter of 2nd Samuel, King David encountered some major issues when he attempted to only treat the symptoms of the affair he had with Bathsheba.
This is an abridged summary (Please refer to an actual Bible with an officially recognized translation)
David was supposed to be at war with the troops but stayed home and saw a lady taking a bath on her roof. He asks who she is and is told she is the wife of one of his soldiers, Uriah. He has her come over and gets her pregnant. Then he starts freaking out (treating the symptoms).
But he has a plan! He can ice it; he can find something to cover up what’s really going on. He has Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, brought home from battle so he will sleep with his wife and think the baby is his.
But when Uriah comes home, he refuses to rest in comfort while his fellow countrymen are on the battlefield, and sleeps at the city gate. But David has more home remedies for this setback.
He gets Uriah drunk and tries again to have him go home to sleep with his wife, but when this fails, he moves to more extreme measures. He arranges to have Uriah put at the front of the battle so he is more likely to be killed.
Once his plan is “successful”, he thinks he’s remedied his problem. He thinks he’s taken care of the problem that is plaguing him. But he has only treated the symptoms.
The prophet Nathan comes to David and pretty much checks him. He lets David know that God is not pleased and because of his sin, the sword will never leave his household (constant drama) and his unborn child will die.
When David hears this, he finally takes the ice off, locks up the ibuprofen, and finds the root of his problems.
“Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”” (2 Samuel 13:13)
David’s problem wasn’t Bathsheba, the affair, the unplanned pregnancy or even the murder. David’s problem was that he sinned against God. He had drifted away from what he was known for his whole life: allowing God to be his strength. He spent so much time trying to treat the symptoms of his sin, rather than going to the only cure for it.
Like recovering from an injury, it’s important to assess what is really going on in our lives when we experience discomfort or pain. Have we strengthened our faith muscle to be able to rely on the power of God when things get tough? Have we paused to be sure we’re not overextending ourselves?
My husband taught a message this week and one of the points was to “Pay Attention to the Tension”. Tension or pain isn’t meant to take us out. They are signals that something is not right. They are an opportunity for us to course correct and get back on track.
While I recover from this small injury, I’m being mindful to not just treat the symptoms but to strengthen the area that needs to be built up. Otherwise, this will be an unnecessary, ongoing problem. Decide today to stop treating your symptoms and fix the problem.