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Resetting the Bones

I broke my collarbone in four places 21 years ago, and I'm still suffering the consequences. Because it was shattered so badly, my collarbone is an inch shorter on one side than the other. It causes your neck and the rest of your body to be out of alignment, so I'm always aware of how this affects my overall posture as well as my movement.

When our lives suffer significant trauma, it can affect how we look at things. For a long time, it can paint your perception of things. You might only see things through the lens of this trauma, whether you're aware of it or not.

Whether you choose to process this trauma in a healthy, productive way or choose to ignore it, it will bring about pain. If you choose the latter, you might suffer a lifetime without recognizing the source of your suffering. You go through the rest of your life with a limp.

If you choose the former, it might bring immediate discomfort, but you know this suffering is important for the healing to take place.

Thomas Merton called this "resetting the bones." When a bone is broken, the doctor must reset the bone so that it heals correctly. The cast will immobilize you, feeling no relief from your pain, but you trust that this resetting will free you in the future.

Rather than avoid suffering, it's important for us to see which path brings about the most healing. Oftentimes, the path that brings the most suffering first is the one that liberates us in the future.

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