There is, I’ve found, something that is actually WORSE than the insidious vice grip of chronic pain that has had my by the neck for literally as long as I can remember. This is something WORSE than going from doctor to doctor to doctor, and leaving time and time again without an answer or a cure. Something WORSE than the constant suggestions, the “yes, I’ve already tried that,” the actual trying of five thousand different medications or diets or supplements or back-woods remedies. The hopes rising—then the disappointment inevitably falling like a thick blanket of wet snow in an endless winter. The hours of prayer. The why’s and the why not’s. The weariness from both fighting and NOT fighting.
There is, believe it or not, something that actually trumps my own chronic pain.
It is my daughter’s chronic pain.
It is the sight of her face when it has a hold of her. When she’s weary. When she’s missing out.
It is the helplessness of not having the resources to throw everything we can at this THING in an effort to bring healing.
It is the frustration of knowing that I can’t even fix myself, so how can I possibly fix her?
It is the cry of a mother’s heart to the Lord to please make it stop, and the reply that I’m not finished with her yet.
Bub has had her fair share of disappointment—it’s a lesson she has actually learned with grace. When she had to step away from the sport she loved and excelled at, she did so with the spirit of a champion. And while this injury was not as traumatic as the broken arm, it has not, to our great dismay, been nearly the same success story.
Today has been one of those Lord, REALLY? kind of days. Rather than ordering an MRI herself, our primary care doc referred us to a neurosurgeon, figuring he would want to order his own images. I knew surgery wasn’t on the table (no pun intended), and so was actually looking to forward the appointment with the hope we would finally get the diagnosis we needed to know how to treat whatever it is we’re up against.
Instead, he looked at the x-rays and bone scan images from a year ago, and determined an MRI wasn’t warranted. I think it’s muscular, he said. I think you need to do some type of therapy, he said. I can’t help you, he said.
Never mind that we’ve BEEN THERE, DONE THAT. Never mind the shooting pains down her legs. Never mind the pain at the BASE OF HER SPINE. Yes. I’m sure the muscles are tense. MUSCLES TENSE WHEN YOU’RE IN PAIN.
We left his office, both near tears. You mean he’s not going to do ANYTHING??? my daughter asked. Why can’t someone tell us what’s wrong and make it better?
Indeed. Why not?
Many of you who know me well know there has been a common theme around here lately—how does one live a life of gratitude in the midst of pain?
This question is hard enough to answer when the pain is your own.
When the pain is your child’s, you begin to ask even harder questions. Questions like, How can I trust you with her when you allow things like this to happen? Or How on earth can this be for her good? Or What the heck do I do NOW???
In my head, I know the “answers,” as if there are definitive responses to such questions.
In my heart, however…
in my heart, I struggle.
I believe in a good God. I believe the plans he has for us are good. I believe he brings good out of that for which the enemy intends evil. But I cannot, no matter how hard I try, balance the equation. In my feeble, human brain (and in my feeble, human body), PAIN does not equal GOOD.
For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans not to harm you, but to give you a hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
When I see a hope and a future, I see my daughter running track. I see her tumbling in her cheer uniform. I see her sitting in class without pain or depression. I see her worry and pain-free, no longer inhibited by a body that is in a state of constant distress.
But I don’t see what God sees. And this can be hard to remember.
I do not see the work he is up to in her heart. In her mind. In her spirit.
In her body.
And faith is, as we are reminded in Hebrews, confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
This lesson, apparently, is so important for me to learn that he is hitting it on multiple fronts.
I hope, for her sake as well as mine, that I learn it soon…