When we arrived at the community skating rink, the air bit the tips of our noses and fingers. Drawn by playful shouting from the rink in front of us, we approached the window of a splintered wood shack to rent skates. A young woman charged us four dollars for each rental and handed us blue skates with a rigid plastic shell covering the outside.
Sitting down on a bench to put on the skates, I wondered whether they would create sores on my feet. I ultimately decided that skating for a few hours would do little harm to my feet, so I tugged on the straps until the skates fit snugly.
My roommate, who had never skated before, joyfully squealed as she carefully shuffled onto the ice. Sliding onto the ice behind her, I approached my friends, who were boisterously chatting and gliding in circles on the ice.
Pain In My Foot
Usually, I wear a stiff prosthetic in my shoe to keep the fallen arch of my left foot in the proper position for standing and walking. Without it, I stand on the inside of my foot, which can cause my foot, ankle, and knee to roll inward. These skates were not designed for my feet, and I leaned heavily on the inside of my foot and the skate. My weight pressed improperly into the inside edge of the skates, causing awful rubbing.
Even the short walk to the ice resulted in a dull ache creeping throughout the inside of my foot. As the morning progressed, the constant ache almost made me want to cry, and the tightness of the skate only added to the discomfort.
Nevertheless, I persisted in skating. I laughed with everyone as we scraped and swooshed over the smooth ice. As soon as my roommate and I grew exhausted, we thumped over to a nearby pergola to take a break. Now, plopping down on the bench under the pergola, I questioned whether the growing ache in my foot was worth the fun of skating.
As soon as our exhaustion began to wear off, my roommate and I rejoined the giggling girls in the rink. We enjoyed playing ice tag, but the dull aching inside of my foot turned into a sharp burning sensation.
For a while, I pondered whether I should leave the group and sit down again to relieve the pressure on my foot. It hurt terribly, but I was also reluctant to leave my friends. As I glanced around at everyone’s smiling faces, I went against my better judgment and skated for another hour.
Blisters and Bruises
After stepping out of the rink, I unfastened the skates’ straps with a click. I pulled the pungent-smelling blue skate off my right foot. As I looked down at the left foot still in the skate, dread filled my body.
I don’t want to see what it looks like right now, I thought while pulling the left foot out of the skate. Just as quickly as I had removed the foot from the skate, I stuffed it back into my gray tennis shoe with the prosthetic sole to avoid prolonging the pain of normally sliding my foot into the shoe.
Putting weight on my foot again was excruciatingly painful when I walked back to the car to leave the rink. When my roommate and I returned to our dark apartment, I moaned and pulled the sock off my foot. It revealed angry, red, bleeding blisters and a purplish bruise encompassing the inside half of my foot.
The pain in the foot did not cease for about a week, and I limped for two days. Over several weeks, the purple bruise gradually faded into my normal skin color. The blisters that had not ruptured oozed and bled until the skin hardened and sloughed off.
Pain and Relationships
Thinking back to that day, I had stayed on the ice with my friends and continued skating for the entire morning. Even though I could have just accompanied them from the sidelines, I wanted to foster a relationship with them that would hopefully last a long time. I determined that the pain I felt in my foot could not outweigh the benefits of developing positive relationships.
To foster a relationship with others, I had to suffer through pain, but God does not want us to experience pain at all. He wants to be there, with each of us, to develop a relationship and help relieve our pain. God wants to establish a positive relationship with us that will last through anything.
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Sarah Radke writes from the Pacific Northwest.
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