On November 21, 2009, I ruptured my Achilles tendon during a taekwondo graduation. Three days later I underwent surgery to repair it. The recovery time was six months to a year. I am at that year mark.
Overall the tendon feels pretty good. My range of motion seems to be back to normal. I can walk without any problem. Running has been a little more of a challenge.
I ran on the tendon for the first time in July just to see what it felt like. Surprisingly it felt normal. But I didn’t push it too hard. Since then I have ridden my bike around the neighborhood, swam a few laps in the community pool, and played some light games of basketball with my boys. Nothing too serious or strenuous. Then a few weeks ago I decided to go jogging again. I wanted to go a few blocks around my neighborhood. The tendon felt good; my stamina was pathetic.
Before the rupture, I was about as active as I had been in my life. I was jogging two to three times a week and participating regularly in taekwondo. I was feeling fairly young. The rupture quickly reminded me that I wasn’t.
Six months of inactivity takes its toll. Not only do you lose some of the flexibility and mobility but you also lose the stamina and the desire. You form new habits. And for me, jogging and taekwondo were no longer a part of them.
Yesterday, on Thanksgiving, I did play a game of touch football. It was a different type of running. Cutting. Running backwards. Quick stops and starts. I was mindful of the tendon and I felt it twinge here and there but overall it felt good and some of my quickness still seemed to be there. So I guess I am fully recovered even if I am now out of shape.
The surgery scar still bothers me at times. I can’t wear shoes with a hard back or ones that slip up and down on my heel. I had a pair of nice golf shoes I had to stop wearing after they nearly rubbed a blister on the back on my heel. I sometimes wear an extra pair of socks just to keep the back of my heel as cushioned as possible.
But as I reflect on the past year I realize that so much more has happened than just the recovery of my tendon or wearing extra socks. Life has changed for me.
Whether it was providential or not, my snapped tendon occurred at the same time as a major juncture in my life. After twelve satisfying years as an associate pastor in NJ, I suddenly had a choice to make. An opportunity presented itself to pastor a church in Baton Rouge, LA. My phone interview took place several days after my Achilles surgery. My visit to Baton Rouge took place near the end of my physical therapy.
It was a big decision…one of those decisions that affects the trajectory of the rest of your life. And with a wife and four kids, it was a decision that also affected them and their lives. New city. New church. New neighborhood. New friendships. New routines. New responsibilities. New doctors. New grocery stores. New events in life. New futures. What friendships (and influences) my boys will have in their teen years, where they will go to college, and who they will marry were probably all changed when we moved here.
But the Lord was gracious. He led in so many ways. He didn’t have to confirm anything…yet He did…in ways that I could see.
So why the Achilles rupture near the same time? Was there a purpose? I obviously can’t say for sure. But I think there was a reason. On one level, the rupture reminded me that I wasn’t young any more. It was time for a transition…not only in my physical activity but also in my ministry. If I was going to pursue my desire to lead and pastor a church, then the time was now.
But on a higher level, the rupture reminded me of my weakness. It reminded me of how easily I can be taken down. There is no room for pride in any of us. We are all mortal beings with fragile bodies living with borrowed breath from our Creator. And whenever we think we are strong, it only takes something as small as a snapped tendon to drop us to our knees.
So before putting His sheep in my care, God wanted to remind me again who I am. I am a weak vessel with a great treasure serving a great God for His glory…not my own. And if I forget that, then He can take me down in a heartbeat.
I have the scar to prove it.