What exactly is it that you want me to do? Should I stand, or shall I sit?
I’m referring to the scripture found in Isaiah 52:2.
My children and I got a good laugh out of the verse because, after all, the command does sound a bit ridiculous. I mean, who wants to stand up, only to be told to sit back down? Sounds like a lot of wasted energy to me.
These three words “arise, sit down” perfectly sum up how I feel at times–confused, bewildered, unsure of what to do next. Having been thrown a generous array of conflicting commands throughout my life that tug me in opposing directions, I yearn for a simple solution…a solution to life’s problems that makes sense.
“Arise, sit down,” it says, all in the same sentence, but only after it says, “Shake thyself off from the dust”?
What in the world does that mean?
Confusing, I tell you.
The seemingly contradictory commands I hear in abundance when life sends a storm my way leave me second-guessing myself.
On one hand, I’m told to “feel the pain”, “deal with the trauma”, and “acknowledge the feelings of anger and betrayal”; on the other hand, I’m told to “forgive”, “rely on the Atonement”, and “let the burden go”.
Which do I do, and when, and for how long, and will doing these things really make everything all better?
Thankfully, a recent Ted video made me see things from a different perspective. The video “How Do Wounds Heal?” teaches the four overlapping stages of the regenerative process, which, ironically, have everything to do with the command to “arise, sit down”.
So what do these two processes have in common?
“After a deep cut or wound, the newly healed skin will look different from the surrounding area and may not fully regain all its abilities for awhile or at all.”
The same can be said of a broken heart. Often, the heart may heal, but not as fully as we would like.
Next in the video we learn that the top layer of the skin, called the epidermis, is pretty easy to repair. “But sometimes a wound penetrates into the dermis, which contains blood vessels and the various glands and nerve endings that enable the skins many functions.”
Some heartache is more painful, more penetrating and damaging, more life- shattering, than others.
“When this happens the body triggers the four overlapping stages of the regenerative process”:
- (1) HEMOSTASIS: This is the stage where you are losing blood. Something must be done or things will spiral out of control. The physical barrier of the epidermis has been compromised.
Your heart, your trust, has been compromised. Certain things in your life are not going as you had planned. Your heart is bleeding and something must be done.
“Blood vessels tighten to form a blood clot.”
You become anxious and tense with worry. To protect yourself, to avert future threats, you remove yourself from the situation and shut yourself off from the outside world. You feel (or are told) that you must handle things on your own. “I can do this on my own,” you tell yourself. But you are wrong. The healing has only begun and it will take an army of soldiers to get you to where you need to be.
- (2) INFLAMMATION: In the case of a skin wound, thousands of tiny soldiers called white blood cells (or macrophages) fight inflammation by devouring bacteria and damaged tissue, in addition to producing growth factors to spur healing.
In the case of your heart wound, willing “soldiers”–family, friends, strangers,– are waiting and willing to battle this with you, to help you through the difficult times, and to spur you on to healing. You just need to be willing to connect.
- (3) PROLIFERATION: In a skin wound, during the proliferation stage, fibroblasts begin to enter the cells and produce collagen, forming connective skin tissue to replace the fibrin of before. Healthy granulation tissue is dependent upon the fibroblast receiving sufficient levels of oxygen and nutrients supplied by the blood vessels.
As you connect with varied persons and resources, you will find the oxygen you need to heal–your hope, happiness, and healing will proliferate at a rate you once thought impossible.
- (4) MATURATION or REMODELING is the final stage of wound healing. The wound matures with the help of collagen, which is rearranged, converted, improved, strengthened. The process can take over a year.
A fitting finale to the story of a broken heart is the final stage of maturation or remodeling. When we endure our trials, with the help and support of others, we mature and are remodeled, or refined. Having been rearranged, converted, improved, and strengthened, we are a better person than we were before. Unlike skin, which only regains 50-80% of its original function, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can be made 100% whole. It may happen in a year, or it may take a lifetime, but we can receive comfort in knowing that it can happen.
Later, as I reread the verse in Isaiah, it took on new meaning:
“Shake thyself from the dust (or from being walked on by the forces of evil, temptation, sorrow, tribulation);
arise (from your fallen, depressed state, and reach out to others),
sit down (or take a seat of honor, of peace, of happiness, being redeemed at last through the Atonement of Jesus Christ).