Crushed

Generally in life, I am an optimist. So much so that I know for a fact some people find me annoying. They’ve said so. I can generally find the good in people and situations and not get terribly ruffled.

Not today. Today I want to quit. I’m sick of getting cut and poked and medicated. I’m tired of being in pain. The toll it’s taking on my family is brutal at the moment and I want to be on my feet, doing my job and living my old, normal life. And chemo hasn’t even started yet.

Today, the enemy is winning. He’s attacking full-force and grabbing us all. The only way we can win is to stand firm in the knowledge that God is bigger. Surrender to Him is the answer, again. I’m too exhausted to fight, so I must trust in Him to fight for me. And for my family.

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Exposed

It was so wonderful to worship with my church family yesterday. I didn’t make it all the way through the service because sitting upright is still taxing, so I ended up on a comfy couch in the foyer.

Again, I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support from those around me. We were nearly the last ones out of the building, and it occurred to me that we should linger more often and spend those precious moments involving ourselves in other people’s lives, rather than heading out the door and on to the next thing.

The morning was mentally taxing more than physically painful. I was in a place where most people around me are familiar and care for me, so personal space is closer than in many other public settings. I was on guard and fearful of being jostled or bumped. I felt it even in the service sitting next to my husband, whom I trust completely. Despite his care and knowledge of my situation, quarters were close and a change of his position could have brought me a good deal of pain.

Consequently, I sat guarded, on edge, protecting my sore places. My wounds are covered and hidden, but my fear of pain kept me from relaxing and fully enjoying the service and the fellowship around me.

I wonder how many other people were there yesterday, protecting sore places. Surrounded by people who care and love, how many were afraid of the pain others could inflict with just one wrong move? Were they able to fully engage in worship and enjoy the feeling of togetherness? Or did they long to be back home, where they are safe from potential harm?

How often am I the one who jostles–bumps–inadvertently opens wounds? Am I so concerned with the next thing that I don’t notice the one sitting apart, guarding? Open my eyes, Lord, to the needs of others. Show me how to meet needs and ease pain. Make me a safe place, that I may guide others to the Safe Place where only You can heal the wounds.

I Need This Pain

The pain has been under control for several days now. It’s been such a relief not to have breakthrough pain around every scheduled medication dose. I am grateful that my healing is coming along nicely and that I have not dealt with infection or complications.

While under control, the pain is certainly far from gone. Movements that I usually take for granted are now either impossible or painful. I spend lots of time sitting, resting. Bored.

Some have advised me to get more of the pain meds, that I should not have to deal with this as much as I do. I appreciate their advice and compassion, for sure. However, to control and diminish the pain more than I am would be detrimental to my well-being.

You see, I need this pain. Not in an unstable and unhealthy way–not at all. I know myself well enough to understand that the better I feel, the more I do. If I remove pain, I will overexert and that will delay or prevent my healing. The best thing I can do is embrace the pain and realize that it is for my own good. I take pain medication enough to enjoy my day, interact well with those around me, and keep a positive outlook, but not enough to fool my mind into thinking that all is well and I can take on the world (or the housework, or whatever). In this situation, I am grateful for pain. It reminds me of my limitations.

The same principle applies in my spiritual walk. Pain I experience in my life, my growth, and my relationships is indicative of where I am or where I should be. If I cause another person pain or experience pain from them, it may be that someone has overstepped and healing is required. This healing brings growth, and that growth leads to greater maturity.

Not all pain is related to injury, however. Ask any person to whom fitness is a priority (I would not be that person) and they will probably say “no pain, no gain.” When muscles are used and stretched and extended beyond their usual range, there is pain. While unpleasant, this pain is also a reward of sorts because it shows that hard work was done. Muscle soreness reminds the person that he has taken steps to achieve his goals and he willingly returns to the gym the following day, eager to continue the process. Strength and range-of-motion gradually increase and he gets stronger and builds stamina.

So it should be in my journey and walk with the Lord. If I am never experiencing “stretching” or “muscle pain,” I am also never making progress. I am not building strength or stamina for the race that is life.

If my goal is greater maturity and Christ-likeness, there will be days of pain–sometimes great pain. What will my attitude toward that pain be?

When I am pulled out of my comfort zone to approach a smelly homeless man on the street (or that intimidating lady at church who seems to have it all together) will I risk the pain of exposure in order to gain the reward of maturity? Or will I walk on by, unwilling to be vulnerable?

When I am asked to spend less on my own children for Christmas so that I can fill shoe boxes for children who have never received a gift, will I be obedient? Or can I not see beyond the wants in my own home to provide for the needs in another?

Will I give up my “me” time to listen to an annoying neighbor rattle on about her aches and pains (because she really is just lonely, and the only truly annoying thing about her is that I have things I’d rather be doing)? Will I invite her in for coffee or will I give her a cursory nod and greeting and explain that I simply don’t have time to chat?

And, when really painful things happen, like a cancer diagnosis, will I give in to the pain, embrace it, and realize that my God does all things well? Will I trust Him that this is for my good, and for the good of those who love me? Can I trust Him with the pain of watching my husband and my children watch me–feeling their own pain and fear?

I believe God is doing something amazing. I see Him touching hearts (including mine) through my pain. So you see, If greater maturity is coming, if the Kingdom of God is being furthered, if I would glorify His name, I need this pain. It is my privilege.

Recovery

People ask “How are you recovering?” Well, I’m recovering. Slowly but surely, I see signs of improvement. Pain management is still very much my main concern, and it’s proving to be a challenge. I understand now that this particular surgery is very painful by nature, and there is only so much that can be done to control the pain. Stacey is finding the same thing. Knowing that doesn’t help us any, but it does make us feel a little less wimpy.

I need help with just about every little thing. Anyone who knows me can imagine how well that goes. I’m getting better, though, at letting my family improve their serve. Pain is a powerful motivator and it forces me to be still and let my body heal, and in turn let others do for me.

Remember the guy from the Blender post? He’s still here, changing my dressings, emptying my drain bulbs, and pretty much handling the front lines of my situation. I could not do this without him. Several times a day he comes in from his work, cleans his hands, dons surgical gloves, and changes from farmer to caregiver. He is so gentle and kind. I praise God daily for this blessing in my life. This is the “for better or for worse” and “in sickness and in heath” part of our marriage vows. As much as I hate that he has to care for me in this way, I’d hate more to have him be the one needing care.

And so we go, one day at a time, finding blessings and challenges on the way.

Quiet

It’s so quiet tonight. My roommate went home and the floor is calm. I’m staying one more night, in hopes that when I leave I can maintain control of my pain. Typing is hard–everything hurts.

I had a wonderful visit from such a sweet friend–a treasure in my life. My family keeps checking in; my phone doesn’t sit quiet for long. A shower this afternoon was tiring but so nice! Sometimes something as simple as clean hair feels revolutionary and gives one the feeling that things are looking up.

From what little I can see, my chest is not a pretty sight. I haven’t had the courage or the desire to look in a mirror yet. I am told, however, that from a surgical standpoint the work is very well done and looks really nice. I’ll just trust that for now. One day soon I’ll see for myself.

I am anxious to be home in my own space with the people I love best, but tonight I’m grateful for just a little more rest, quiet, and extra care. God bless the nurses and aides who have looked after me so well.

New Mercies

It’s a new day. They added a 5th drug to my cocktail and pain has been under control for about 10 hours. I slept very well. His mercies are new every morning.

Soon I will have a delicious breakfast (note my optimism), and a visit from a friend. It will be so nice to see her and she’s bringing Cheetos! An added bonus.

My roommate is from my town, and has been so sweet and helpful to me. I’m grateful that the Lord saw fit to put us together.

It’s gonna be a good day.