Reflection on Pain and Unfinished Plans

Bleeding hearts by liz west

Bleeding Hearts via Flickr / liz west

Yesterday as I read Kelli Woodford’s awesome post at Chronicles of Grace for the Unforced Rhythms link-up, I was feeling sorry for myself.

Enjoying a pity party!

Some weeks ago I shared I would be in a writing class for 10 weeks and posting only here and there. My husband and I also signed up to volunteer during the fall fund drive for our favorite local radio station, something I love to do.

Classes were on Wednesdays from 11am to 1pm, and volunteer efforts limited to other days of the week. I had anticipated intense assignments from the class and was willing to put in an all out effort. The second class was behind me and my assignment partially completed when the unexpected hit.

PAIN! Lower part of upper right back and right side.

“Must have pulled some muscles,” I thought. “But how and doing what?” It was Thursday, 9/25, the day after class, and we had no volunteer assignments until Friday, 10/3. I should be A-OK by the next class.

Fast forward to this morning, I sit here in unrelenting pain having seen one physician’s assistant, lab work and x-rays done, with a primary care physician booked out three weeks with whom I’ve exchanged emails, and conversations with my spine surgeon who has looked at the x-rays and declared all fusions and spinal repairs intact and nothing new to be found. Physical therapy doesn’t start until next Wednesday. And it’s only a trial to see if we can discover what soft tissue may be involved.

“SO WHAT’S WRONG?” I want to scream. No pain medication or muscle relaxant touches the pain. Heat and ice don’t make much difference. My only comfort zone is found flat of my back in bed with two pillows tucked under my knees and then that not for long. I’m just not a back sleeper.

Then I read Kelli’s post. And she wrote:

Good stories, rather, are about how the characters are changed in the midst of the mess.

Kelli’s thoughts on her pain and how she learned to listen to it caused me to stop dead in my tracks. I stopped, took a deep breath, and realized I needed to listen to my pain.

It wasn’t just the physical pain of an unidentified injury. My pain included the disappointment of having to drop out of my class. Frustration at not being able to volunteer with my husband and friends was another stressor. My blogs were unattended and bare. None of the things I really enjoyed day-to-day like reading, quilting, knitting were easily done because of physical discomfort.

Put it all together and I have a mess! Yes, a mess!

Next Kelli quoted my favorite writer, Frederick Buechner (read the quote at her post). Buechner’s words, plus Kelli’s, set my mind and heart on a straight but difficult path of listening to my pain. Like Kelli, I have avoided facing the inevitable: waiting for the next class in January, going through physical therapy, getting behind on writing and chores, just feeling sorry for myself. Face it all I must, and I will. (By the way, Kelli, I vowed to marry this man long ago, and I know it was before you did!)

Many thanks to Kelli and Our Heavenly Father for bringing Kelli’s message to me.


Authenticity Always

Attribution: MOPS

Attribution: MOPS

Several years ago I signed on to volunteer with Mothers of Preschoolers aka MOPS. I first signed on as a childcare worker and lover, and then moved up the ranks to mentor mom, one who has “been there, done that.”

In our training, a word I knew but never connected with the who that I am jumped to the forefront of my awareness. That word is “authenticity.” As authenticity relates to the world around me, it means real, honest, truthful, the real thing, nothing hidden. And you probably can think of others.

But I learned a new authenticity in my MOPS training. Although it involved all the above, it specifically meant I had to be the one showing and sharing all those qualities, not some product advertised on TV or sitting on store shelves or hanging on a rack.

As the verse above from Isaiah mentions, God was doing a new thing in me. He was making me accountable for who I am, not only to the persons I was interacting with but with family, friends, and myself.

Talking to a young mother I learned to speak openly about the difficulties of parenting a new infant, sharing the trials I experienced with colic, sleepless nights, a husband who didn’t help, the laundry, trying to balance housecleaning chores, cooking, and baby. I could not sugarcoat the realities of what I had experienced.

This young mother needed to know I knew what it was like to be in her shoes, in her skin, in her days. In order to do that I needed to share who I was when I was a young mom.

What was even harder was sharing about when my first marriage faltered, and the father of my child and I separated. This was something I didn’t willingly share with everyone. However, God placed a young mother struggling with separation and a young child in her arms for whom she had become solely responsible. It was my big test!

I thought long and hard about telling her the truth of my story, but God nudged and I knew she needed to know I truly understood because yes, I had been there. “Be real, authentic” God kept nudging. And I did.

We all need to bravely be ourselves, be authentic always with those around us.

We need to give up conforming to this world, attempting to fit in, or speaking so others believe we agree when we don’t. It means we need to be real, really who we are, really His.

What God wants from us is authenticity — the act of being who He created us to be.

Can you be that for Him, for yourself, for others? Think about your life and if you have a story to share about your authenticity, won’t you share it with us below?

Linking up on Monday with:

Kelli Woodford at Unforced Rhythms

and on Wednesday with:

Holley Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart
Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory