Strength

The past few days have been rough for me. I met my new doctor since we’ve moved to a new area that will deal with the pain portion of my health. The impression I got from our short visit was that he is quite proud of his accomplishments and has no time to get a history on patients. I left with no evaluation being done, no pain score inquiry, no real questions about my history, and lots of unanswered questions about where to go from here. I feel as though I’m past that point now. I need someone that is invested in seeing where I am and helping to get me back to the best version of myself physically. I’m so ready and I want to skip whoever does not want to be involved in the process. I’ve grown too far past that point. I left the doctor feeling frustrated and a little hopeless. This appointment had been like a beacon of hope shining to further advance my recovery and hopefully continue to heal back to maximum strength. Then to be in so much pain at the appointment only to be spurned was a little less than settling.  On the way home my mom drove because of how much pain I was in and as we were talking she made the simple statement of “you will have to give it over to God.” It was in that moment that I took almost a gasp of air. I thought, why didn’t I do that immediately?  Throughout our struggles God has shown His strength, grace and blessings more times than I could ever count. So, why is that not always my first thought? It’s as if I think my anger or frustration will somehow change the situation.

strength-image

The day that followed was filled with even more pain. It was beyond a point of manageability. I was at a point that I had not been in awhile. I began to just sit out on the porch and stare at God’s beautiful creation. I started to just cry out loud out to God to take it all away. I am tired. I am tired of the constant struggle. The pain is just too much. I know God can take it away if He chooses, so why not? Then it was as if he stopped me somehow. I honestly don’t know how but He gently touched my heart so swiftly. Staring at HIS creation, I was reminded of all HE has done for me. Jesus came to earth and surrendered Himself so that He would suffer the entirety of God’s wrath instead of me, instead of you. I cannot imagine nor do I even want a glimpse of feeling just a part of God’s wrath. There are times to grieve and times to dwell in the sadness of your pain, disability, loss, etc. But, this was a time where God was saying yes, I acknowledge your suffering, BUT look at what I have done for you. Look at who I really am and focus more on that than your suffering. God brought back the verse of 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 “For our light and temporary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” I realize the context of this chapter is persecution but these verses, especially verse 17, God gave me about 1 1/2 years ago and they have never left my heart. It is so applicable. So, my prayer is now that the Holy Spirit will guide my prayers. I don’t know exactly what to pray for. I feel like relief from the suffering isn’t the right prayer at this time for me personally. That my focus should be more on deepening my walk with Christ. God has revealed himself so much through the suffering and continues to that I can’t help but be thankful in ways for the suffering. However, the pain continues to be almost intolerable. So, that brings me back to how to pray. I know God knows my heart and knows I want the pain to end like yesterday (or years ago ha!). I trust that He knows the way to wade through it all.  Through my life-my struggle, this blog, anything I do-I do it because I want God to receive all the glory and to encourage anyone else struggling that He is the only source of true, constant help through it.

Questions

I know they mean well, but sometimes the questions feel like a knife slicing deep. Those standard questions you wouldn’t think twice about asking because it’s second nature to our “normal” conversations these days. Almost like “how are you today?” It’s funny how what used to be so common and what used to slip out of my mouth in almost every conversation with someone newly met has almost become taboo in my vocabulary.

1. What are you doing right now?  Are you working?

Answer: I think this one is so deeply personal because my pride is really hurt when this question comes up. That is something entirely of my own doing but it doesn’t make the hurt any less real. I have worked since I was 16 years old. I have always been driven and dreamt of how to offer my life up to God so that I can impact others for His glory. I have gone to school and worked specifically with this goal in mind. I have been commended at every job for my dedication. My husband always kind of went crazy because I would work all day then come home and work until I couldn’t exhausted cleaning, cooking, etc. It was an never ending cycle, but I just thought that was how every woman was supposed to live. I thought if I wasn’t exhausted then something was seriously wrong and I needed to find something to clean or do! Then life took an unimaginable shift and I was bed bound for a little while for the most part. Luckily my husband had some practice at running the household after the surgeries I had so he took over. He thankfully took over with such a focus and drive. I had fought the reality that is chronic pain for awhile refusing to allow it to change any of my life. Now, I had no choice. That included my work. It is not just a private matter anymore which is how I liked to keep my pain. I liked to keep how bad it was to myself and my family. I think that is why when it got so bad that I couldn’t hide it, people were so surprised. But, they really had no idea the horrible reality we were living at home everyday. So, no, I am not working right now in the attempts that I may heal. It is humbling. It is hard. It was an adjustment. However, I do see the changes that God has allowed in my life from this. I was able to have the time and ability to style my daughter’s hair for her Jasmine costume for Halloween. She saw it in the mirror and gasped in excitement.  My hands did go numb while I was doing it and that made it difficult, but if I had been working I would have most likely been in bed. If I was working I wouldn’t be able to go to her class party because I would be in bed every second that I was not working. That was my life before. I had nothing left to give my child, nothing left to give my husband. They suffered greatly. God is giving us back this family time. God is giving me back time to spend with Him and just sit in His presence. I am thankful that God taught us how to survive and thrive in any circumstances. I laughed with my husband the other day that I was thankful we are actually just struggling with regular parenting difficulties. It’s nice to have a “normal” struggle for once.

2.  Are you going to have more kids?

Answer: This question really stings my soul every time.  And it’s at no fault of the person asking it. I never thought about it before until a friend went through difficulties conceiving. Now, thankfully they are expecting two wonderful blessings. But, I never thought about before how that seemingly harmless question could truly wound a momma’s heart. We have one beautiful daughter and one amazing angel baby we will meet someday.  God has already richly blessed our lives. I tell our daughter all the time how much of a blessing she is. She continues to teach me about my walk with Christ and who He desires me to be in Him.  The responsibility that He entrusts you with when He gives you that blessing is something I never quite understood until recently. Since before my husband and I had got married we had our plan. You know, the “plan” that always works out and trumps reality, right? HA!  Our “plan” was to have 2 biological kids and then to adopt one.  But, then life stepped in.  We never expected to lose our first child especially the way we did right around the holidays. I was not very far along and sometimes I feel thankful for that. Other times, I am sad that I didn’t get to bond with my baby longer if that was the only time I was going to get with him or her. I look forward to meeting our precious angel in Heaven one day. I know God is taking great care of our sweet love. Our daughter came a year after that as a surprise. It most definitely was not the right timing in our book, but man I wouldn’t have traded that awesome gift for anything!!! At that time, we planned on waiting another year and a half or two then having another. But, life had other plans again. One year and 2 months after I had our daughter was when I had my first fusion surgery. We still had hope for having another child after that, but hopes continued to be dashed after each subsequent surgery. My husband and I went back and forth on the subject, but with this most recent exacerbation we finally decided we would not be having any more children unless things were to miraculously change with my health. This realization was like another huge blow to how I saw my life turning out. There were days I felt like God was no longer taking little slices of my life but was now taking big slices that I held dear.

I saw this quote the other day that someone posted from their bible study. I’m not sure who the quote is originally from but it is too good to not post it. “I say I found peace. I do not say I was not lonely. I was- terribly. I do not say I did not grieve. I did – most sorely. But peace of the sort the world cannot give comes, not by the removal of suffering, but in another way – through acceptance.” I firmly believe that in order to move through the valleys of any form of loss and the grief that is there- you must fully experience the grief. You must be present and acknowledge what you have lost. There is sadness when you go through any form of loss whether it be a loved one, physical mobility, a job, a dream, etc. Once you have really acknowledged the loss then you can move through it and begin to experience the acceptance of the suffering. That was so key to regaining the joy of my salvation. For awhile I felt so misled by God. I didn’t understand why the suffering never came to an end. I could handle hurting for awhile as long as I knew it would come to an end at some point. The struggle was learning to acknowledge that this is what He has chosen, for now or maybe forever. But, for now, I hold on to the verses of 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ‘But he said to me, “My grace is SUFFICIENT for you, for MY power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christs power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.’  Now, I am no Paul, but I remember our old Pastor telling us that in our different seasons to go through the bible and find someone that we can identify with in their season. This is my person right now. Paul suffered so much more then I can ever imagine, but I want to draw from the strength and wisdom he exhibited. I hope you find your person as well and draw from their example. God is so present and loves His children dearly even when it feels like we are far from it.

 

 

 

And it Begins…

I must say that I am nervous that I won’t be the most eloquent of speakers (typers) or clearly get the message across but let’s get this show on the road anyways.

I think Natalie Grant’s song “Song to the King” says it best “How could I repay such a debt except with my life? How could I give anything but sacrifice of praise.” That perfectly describes the reason I am starting this blog. My husband and I can now see that God has brought us through some of the deepest of valleys these last few years only to show us the true joy of who He is. It’s funny how sometimes God has to bring us to our most desperate of states to get our attention. Maybe I’m just a stubborn so God feels it’s necessary, but the way I have come to view it of late is that God has chosen to give me a “thorn in my side” of sorts like Paul. Our trials with my pain used to be a few months long with a surgery mixed in and then life returned to normal. That has not been the case this time and I am having to learn how to see myself the way God really sees me and for the purposes that He sees for me now. But, let’s not get ahead. Since this is the first one I want to very briefly explain what brought us to this point.

It started a few years ago with a simple fusion to fix a not so great herniation. They saw that I had a piece that had actually fractured between the spinal cord pressing on a nerve. This would either eventually heal or cause long-term damage as he had no way of knowing how long it had been that way. Lucky for this gal, it was the latter. So, after that I was left with some really fun pain but somewhat manageable. Then it turned out to be a tumble-down effect with other surgeries following spread out over months and 2 years. Mix in some PT, injections, appointments, the usual boring stuff. Then came the thoracic bit which I have still yet to recover from unfortunately. As one physical therapist said, if this were any other part of your spine we would have done surgery by now and called it a day. But, instead it’s the part no one likes to operate on. I mean let’s be real-no one wants to have another surgery, but at the same time, no one wants to be severely pain stricken everyday either. But, it is what it is for now in my eyes.

It’s funny because there are times when we go out in public and I think just smile for the picture, just make everyone comfortable by thinking you’re okay.  No one likes to be around negative nancy who doesn’t feel well, right?  When in reality, no one who looks at your social media page or sees little excerpts from your life truly knows that you leave the dressy social events early in tears or tugging at your husband’s shirt like a child begging to make a quick exit where it won’t make a scene so no one will ask why you had to leave. No one can see behind the façade of fake smiles that you have to rest 95% of your day just because you know that you plan to take your daughter to the park that afternoon. You know that you will hurt tremendously 10 minutes into the park excursion anyways but you do it like a champ because you want your child to grow up in a world with a mommy who can do everything for her.  I say all these things not for pity sake, but because I know there are others out there who can relate. It’s a heavy weight to bear when you feel like those around you don’t understand fully, think “oh it can’t be that bad”, or you just want to be “normal” even if your body won’t allow it. It’s a hard road to walk full of ups and downs. There are warriors out there that many of us don’t even realize. I know you’re out there, silently fighting your fight everyday.

We all struggle with physical or emotional difficulties at times that may seem insurmountable. I’ve learned and am still learning that there’s a time we must take to grieve for what we have lost. Then to take the time to allow our Father to heal our hearts. I can’t explain how the healing started for me exactly but I know it was through constant leaning on Him. I am not strong enough on my own. I fall so hard, my heart literally aches. But, surely as I feel the darkness closing in, his light comes peeking in through the window offering hope and restoration. It is a beautiful sight. A beautiful, painful process. I hope you will walk along this journey with me.