The words you are about to read were written on July 20, 2016. I forgot about them until today, but I still want to share them with you all.
I have always struggled to celebrate my progress. The people in my life have pleaded with me to see the progress I have made; I never saw it as enough. There was usually too much room for improvement that any progress I had made did not matter, but that was only when I saw the progress at all.
For the most part, I neglect to see the progress at all. Either ignoring its existence, or too blind by my strive to do more, or thinking it should have been easier to get where I am, it wasn’t worth celebrating in my eyes.
Progress sneaks up on us. The work we put in to move forward is hard to see. It’s hard to grab hold of and wave around in the air. We can’t wave a flag that could represent every single moment it took to get us from where we were–yet, here we are.
I’ve been making progress every single day to try and heal the TMD in my jaw since November 2015, but not until today did I finally see how much progress I had really made.
When I have told people that I have TMD, most commonly known as TMJ, their eyebrows furrow and they lean back a bit in confusion. I get it. No one talks about it. They probably can’t open their mouth. (Don’t get it? If you had TMD you would.)
For those of you unfamiliar, TMD is a jaw joint disorder causing pain, fatigue, headaches, and most familiar, clicking when opening and shutting. It can be minor to severe. In my several attempts to combat this poor situation, physical therapy was the answer to my prayers.
(Saying I go to physical therapy for the muscles in my cheeks is fun to say. People feel really uncomfortable.)
Going twice a week for the last three and half months, my progress exposed itself in very slight ways. For instance, I could now yawn a little bigger with a little less pain than the week before. I hardly gave myself any pats on the back. I actually started making myself acknowledge any movement towards healing like forcing myself to eat the vegetable I hate or running that extra mile– I know its good for me, but I don’t feel good doing it.
After a while, the extra miles kick in, and you see how good it was for you because you can now eat a sandwich without having to take ibuprofen. Is the metaphor carrying over? No? Hmm…
What I am trying to say is you are making progress, even if you don’t see it. I tell you this because of those who have continually told me. The work you are putting in matters. It is not going to waste. The dark moments where we feel stuck, or even feel like we are regressing, will not last forever and do not define your growth.
I hope to start thanking God for the moments of clarity more than I ask for them.
So, what did I see? I saw an x-ray of my mouth. Now, on February 26, 2016, I had all four wisdom teeth and some funky looking jaw joints plus lots of pain.
On July 20, 2016 I had NO wisdom teeth and nearly perfect looking jaw joints. All glory to God.
My left joint (where I had most of my pain) was remarkably more normal and both joints were even. Who would have thought an x-ray could bring so much joy?
The x-ray represented my progress. It showed me how all the struggling and work I had put into myself to heal my body, to follow God, to be where I was, mattered. It was worth it.
I cried some happy tears.
So whatever you are moving forward from, believe in the progress you are making.
Believe in it even if it is small, because it is big.