Today we're going to focus on pain. Believe me, I don't want to. I thought about just skipping ahead to some other topic or aspect of "focus" but my heart said, "No." Now, I don't always listen to my heart, especially when my head is shouting all kinds of advice:
It doesn't really hurt that much.
If you were a good Christian you would be able to bear this trial patiently, in spite of the pain.
People will think you're tougher and braver if you don't admit to feeling much pain.
People don't want to hear you whine.
It gets pretty noisy up there, but I'm going to try to ignore it and let my heart share some thoughts about pain that I've been focusing on this past week.
I think most of my readers know that I missed a step at church on March 16 and broke my ankle. Amazingly enough, I didn't have severe pain at the time it happened. Oh, it hurt, but I wasn't writhing in pain all the way to the hospital. I didn't really even get any pain medicine until I was taken to a room for the night. I took a pill and a little later the nurse explained that they would set me up with a pain pump so I could push a button whenever I needed something.
I tried to decline, politely. "Oh, I don't think I'll need very much medicine," I assured her, thinking that maybe they would just give me a pill once in a while. "That's okay," she replied. "We'll just set it up and you don't have to push it if you don't need it."
Much to my chagrin (and relief), I did push that little red button quite a few times during the night and over the next day and a half before I had surgery. After surgery it felt so much better. Going home went well and I settled into my easy chair, sure that I would soon feel great.
It hasn't gone as smoothly as I would have liked. The last few days have gotten hard. Even though it's not severe, I've been frustrated with the pain I'm still feeling. I'm tired of sore hands from hopping around the house with my walker. I'm tired of having to ask for help when I need something I can't carry. I'm tired of making Gary and the boys cook and do the laundry.
One morning this week I just looked at Gary and said, "Okay, I'm done with this. I want it to be over." He sympathized, but we both know that it's not over and it won't be for a while. Life is just harder for all of us and we have to make the best of it.
Quite a few people have commented that God must want me to "slow down." That may be true, but I wish he'd chosen a different way to show me that. He could have spoken from a cloud while we were hiking the Grand Canyon. I would have listened to Him, honest!
Instead, I am going through a time of pain and suffering. It's not just physical, as anyone dealing with a painful illness or injury knows. The pain is also emotional. I'm ashamed to admit how many times I've cried in the last week and a half. I cry for the pain that comes and goes, but I also just cry in frustration and grief. Limited mobility, admitting I need help, and feeling like a burden (even though my family does nothing to make me feel like that) are all tough to handle.
Today I went to the doctor and the nurse took off my temporary cast. I got my first look at my ankle after surgery:
By the end of the appointment my foot looked like this:
"The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (Psalm 34:18 NIV)
Have you ever gone through a painful season (physically or emotionally)? Do you listen to your head or your heart in those times? How can keeping our focus on God help us through those times?