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Freeze, or Burn?

21 Aug

So, the other day I finally got fed up with a painful growth at the tip of my middle finger, that, because of it being my tallest finger, ended up bumping into everything with force, no matter how cautious I was about it. I was sure it wasn’t a wart. I didn’t think there had been a splinter or sliver of glass in there, but I also knew it had been there for two months with no improvement, but also no infection. I figured they’d send me to the dermatologist to get it sliced off and studied like so many other parts of me that lived near the equator for a few years. But I was wrong.

I went in early in the AM and had to quell my own laughter about my middle finger going up all of the time to protect it from getting knocked by accident. The PA who helped me was not amused, but I find I have to laugh in moments like these. Maybe it’s a nervous habit, like when the dermatologist is cutting something from somewhere normally clothed for a reason. I have to crack jokes or else I cry from the lack of dignity of the moment, and sadly, there are way too many of these moments. I am a dermatologist’s bread and butter! And I find dermatologists to categorically be a humorless bunch (if you’re a derm peep, I’m probably not talking about you). Maybe I provide some comic relief from staring at skin lesions all day, or maybe they are so narrowly focused, my stand-up comedy show is really unwanted. I’m socially awkward anyway, so I walk out of these situations at least having made myself laugh and completely unaware of the extremity of how awkward I really was.

Anyway, it hurt like a son of a gun every time it was bumped. She really had no clue what it was initially. She sliced off the top of the bump, saw no signs of wart “roots,” and decided it might be a hemangioma. So she said I could have it frozen or cauterized, and it would dry up and fall off, and maybe then the vascular bump at the end of my finger would be no more.

Um, okay.

Given the choice, I thought some medically induced frostbite would be the better way to go. And I’ve never been fond of smelling my own flesh burning with medical welding tools. No thanks. If we were going to go that direction, why not just hot-glue-gun my finger at home without the copay? Not my favorite thing. Since I’m a wimp, I assumed a needle of anesthetic would be presented. Nope. She barely asked me if I was ready (doesn’t she know I’d love an epidural just to have a mole removed?) and blast that arctic burn right at my finger for what felt like a full minute. I’m admittedly a real wimp with pain, so it was about two minutes before I could breathe again. I was so incredulous she wasn’t turning that thing off after 10 seconds. Really. I kept looking at her with complete disbelief in my eyes as if any second now she was going to turn that puppy off. Finally, between choking down some oxygen (told you I was a wimp), I declared: “Okay, then. I think I’m all set.” She was having way too much fun with her freeze-blast tool, and she looked like a superhero being told to go back to her secret identity when her services were proven no longer necessary.

And you know what? I got over it. I claimed a little social media sympathy over my little experience, sucked it up, and moved on. But it got me thinking how I wish my sin, insecurities, relational hurts, feelings of betrayal could all be heroically blasted like that. That a full minute of holding my breath and twinging would make it be over.

Oh, wait.

They already were. Over, that is. Those of us with faith in Christ believe they hung on Jesus for several hours. It wasn’t quick or painless or pretty, but “it is finished.” It is finished indeed!

John 19:30, Apostle John speaking
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

So when I’m tempted to dwell on those things, I need to remember that I can live in restored, redeemed relationship with Christ, and therefore with others. My thoughts, my fears, my temptations, my hurts…all taken care of on that cross. Grace covering me like a blanket I never have to take off. I need to look at my finger (it’s tall and the middle one, after all, so hard to miss) and remember He took that all on for me so that I don’t have to dwell in a lack of peace. I can dwell in Him. And there’s truly no place I’d rather be.

What does “It is finished” mean to you?

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