So here’s to a beginning. I have been wanting to write for a while but haven’t been able to pull together the words as to all that I have been feeling and learning. It has been on my heart to share some of my experiences that have truly shaped me to be the person I am. It has pressed on me to share about some of my darkest times and how I was carried through. This blog is dedicated to the Lord, the very one who carries my world.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Three Shuffled Steps Backwards

These past few weeks have felt like one long exhaling breath as we have searched to find ourselves and our lives again. Wondering a bit, where do we go from here? Feelings of numbness, sadness and glimpses of hope have all risen and fallen with the passing of days. A sort of listless ache has come over my heart. An inner battle that I can’t seem to get past. The trauma that we faced has left what feels like an indelible gaping hole in me. The bleeding has stopped. But now a scar remains. I want so badly for that scar to fade. To strike what has occurred from my memory.

But it still aches. And sorrow still smirks in the distance.
I want to get back to living again. Living my ‘real’ life. The way things, in my mind, were supposed to go. Before everything went so…wrong.
I can’t seem to process all the loss and come out unmarred. Even so, I try. How I foolishly try. It seems the moment the pressure lets up a bit and my feet are no longer to the fire, I find I collapse into old habits of self-focus and self-determination. I can do this. I can and will do this, even if it strangles a bit of my spirit in the process. Had I not learned anything about true strength in the past months? More, about my own engulfing weakness? And the beauty found in my own admission of weakness?
Had I so quickly forgotten, “For when I am weak, then I am strong”? [emphasis added]
But the pain has since turned to numbness, and everything that once raged red has now turned to grey. Even still, I can’t help but wonder why I feel such a need to cover to my scar? To hurry up and cover up any and all evidence of ever being broken. Why do I battle day in and day out to get fitter? Get faster. Get stronger. Get slimmer. To control my size. And my family. To control my health. And my rate of healing. To control what others think of me. And how I appear. I find myself even trying to control the exercises given to me by my physical therapist! And for what?
I can’t seem to find my way.
And it frustrates me.
Today was no exception. Trudging my three-year-old and myself to the car, we made our way to physical therapy in hopes of good news. The rain beat down on the car as we drove, and I tried my best to dismiss the growing ache in my right hip. How could this be happening again?
I had just endured not one hip replacement. Not two. But four.
Four. (Three hip replacements and one incision and drainage)
Pain just wasn’t an option I was willing to come to terms with.
Even so, I hurt.
We made our way into the waiting room, quickly sitting down as I waved familiarly at the secretary. Megan hurriedly threw her coat off in one jubilant motion, only to request I sing her favorite, “Twinkle Twinkle” while she hopped and spun about the room. Her eyes, so joy filled, as I sang. So proud of herself as she moved. Delighted to have gathered the affections of the others in the room, she let out a squeal. I watched, proudly, holding back laughter of my own. I was so thankful for this girl and her youthful ability to be fully in the moment. For her sweet joy that flowed so freely, often pulling me out of myself.
Reminding me to get out of my own way.
How I needed that reminder today.
Two minutes later the others had lost interest, and Megan hopped up on the chair next to me, putting her head on my shoulder and exclaimed, “Mom, I just love you in my heart”.
I was loved through the eyes of a child. My child. And wasn’t that enough?
Moments later we were brought back to an exam room where I was told to put on a pair of oversized shorts for exam. As my physical therapist entered, I began to share regarding my recent right hip pain. I watched as concern came over his face. I knew this wasn’t a particularly good reaction.
Over the past weeks he had cautioned me regarding pushing too much and the dangers in overdoing it, potentially leading to injury. He knew I was motivated. In fact, he had tried to temper such motivation at just about every visit, trying to get me to see what real time progress actually looked like.
I breathed in deep and exhaled, not knowing what was coming next.
He stated, “A single hip replacement typically takes six months to return to baseline (with a good amount of hard work).” He went on to say, “A double hip replacement, well those are just tough. But you, you haven’t had a double hip replacement. You’ve essentially had two major surgeries to each hip. It’s going to take some time.”
Take things slowly? Give it some time? These were not things I did well. I already believed the exercises he had given me to be somewhat feeble and in need of a good ramp up.
This was not the promise for complete healing after four months as previously stated by my surgeon, preoperatively of course.
But my gut told me he was right. Even though I hated to hear it.
A few moments passed, and he recommended I use a cane and hold on any more therapy in the interim.
A cane? I thought I was done with assistive devices! Wasn’t that the point of surgery?
Two minutes later we made our way out to the car, Megan, happily singing in the back seat while I was in another world completely in the front seat, mulling over the past hour in my mind. How long would this setback take? Would I ever be free from hip pain? Was there something wrong with my internal hardware?
And then it occurred to me that perhaps I was missing the point.
Really missing it.
Perhaps the point all along hadn’t been to spare me from any further calamity but instead to teach me the true meaning of rest. A part of me cringes even now at fully embracing this, as I have been wired from the start with the heart of a doer. Rest has never been something voluntary for me. I spent years as a pre-med major in college pushing and striving, somewhat cleverly believing God needed me and my achievements. Even after having been diagnosed with lupus, more time was spent pushing and striving towards becoming a nurse practitioner. Sacrifices were made. Anything it took to get things done. But what I didn’t recognize was that my youthful zeal wasn’t actual spiritual progress. Spiritual fervor coupled with holier than thou travel plans to some remote land- not to mention being subtlely aware of the praise that came with said travels-just didn’t amount to a whole lot. Where was God to be found in all of the ‘me’? And how has it taken me so long to recognize this disparity?
Psalm 23 says, “He makes me lie down in green pastures”. Surely, that was a verse I could relate to, having been made to lie down quite a bit over the past years. And still, I wander.
It seems the real power is found in the quiet. In the resting. In perfect trust.
That is where he shows up best.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 says, “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its root by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit”.
Oh, to be like this beautiful tree! And even more, to take a lesson from my girl.
Rest, fully present and trusting in him who created us, singing to him always, “I love you in my heart”.
“But I trust in you, O Lord…My times are in your hands…” Psalm 31:14,15

Micah 7:7 says, “But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.”