Thursday, September 3, 2009

The power of pain


As much as you would think this wonderful normalcy of life would help me forget the tragedy of cancer that still surrounds me, I just can't seem to let go of my memories, my fears and my pain. There is not one day that passes that I do not consider the sobering reality that I might lose my precious little girl one day. I know that sounds pessimistic and probably a little depressing, but it's true. I look at her, at her smile, her beautiful blue eyes, her chunky little rolls and it just hurts my heart. I often think, "How long do we get to keep her like this?", so happy, so healthy so amazingly "normal". The other day while Talks-a-lot was at school, I dropped Chunks-a-lot off at her grandma's house so she could play. I had some errands to run and was a little excited at the prospect of actually having some alone time. But for some reason, as I sat in my car, the silence overwhelmed me. All I could think about was, "this is what it would be like to not have her". No laughter coming from the backseat, no imaginary princesses, no made-up stories about butterflies....just utter silence. I got really choked up and a little irritated that I was experiencing this rush of emotions. It was my time and I thought that meant escaping reality for a moment and refilling my "mommy patience meter". Instead, I found myself face to face with the reality that I often deathly fear. The pain was overwhelming, the lump that formed in my throat seemed to almost burn a hole in my breath, tears streamed down my face as I quietly questioned God's timing on allowing me to feel this pain. I guess there's a part of me that thinks I should get to control when I feel things. I often think, "We've been through enough, we need a break.", and as true as that might be, God's intentions for allowing pain in our lives is for our good.....and ultimately for His glory. This is a concept I have wrestled with a lot lately. How can something be for God's glory if it physically and emotionally hurts so badly? How can this glorify Him? And the answer to this question came to me in a way I would have never seen coming.

Talks and Chunks-a-lot had been playing on an indoor playground at Chick-fil-a the other day and after making many climbs up the plastic slide, Talks-a-lot had quite an impressive raw spot on both of his knees. Later that evening, as he got in the shower, I heard a yelp followed by loud crying coming from our upstairs bathroom. I ran up to see if he was okay and realized that when the water from the shower hit those raw spots on his knees, it burned and he was not too happy about it. With much whining and moaning, Talks-a-lot made it through his painful shower and had a bone to pick with me afterwards. He told me that he wished he didn't have to feel physical pain. I understood this remark but reminded him that pain helps to alert us that there is something we need to pay attention to. A strained muscle alerts you to take a break from exercising, the pain from breaking a bone helps you to make the decision to go to the hospital, and on and on the examples go. Talks-a-lot did not seem satisfied with this response and kept pushing the fantasy of not having to feel anything. The conversation went back and forth for awhile and finally I said, "God created us this way for a reason. He knew that we needed to feel pain to help us......" my voice trailed off. Have you ever seen someone throw a brick into somebody else's face? Neither have I, but that is exactly how I felt at that moment. Boom....thud. It just hit me like a ton of bricks. All of this pain and trauma that God has allowed in our lives is for our own good. To shape us, to change us, to bring us into a closer communion with Him. And maybe that all sounds like a "sunday school answer" but it's not. I can look at my life before all of this happened and compare it with life as I know it today and there is a stark contrast. God has managed to gain my vulnerability, my trust, my faith and my conscience. And I believe that the tragedy we are going through right now is the only way any of this could have been accomplished. And as much as it hurts, as much pain as it brings to my heart, I know that one day I will look back and see how God used this pain to forever change our lives. Sure, it has broken us down, made our hearts grow weary, created a raw spot, but this pain makes us keep fighting. It reminds us of the battle we are in, it keeps us from growing too content in our everyday lives, it always leaves us hungry for a deeper walk with Christ. We are weak with this pain, we are fatigued from this fight and that is just how He wants us. For in our weakness, He is strong. It's like I finally understood what that means and it sent chills down my spine. He allows this pain to bring us to Him so we can share in the beautiful eternity He has created for us. And in that reality, there is love in the pain He allows and something about that comforts me.
As I sat back with this brick of knowledge that God had so creatively placed in my lap, I felt so thankful for this journey. The tears and pain it has brought will never compare to the lives it has changed, mine included. What's a little raw spot if it means you get to follow your Savior home?
This pain has created weakness in my once-thought ability to be self-sufficient and so I turn to Him. Knowing that there is no way I could ever do this on my own, finally realizing that His strength, His grace, His mercy are made perfect in my pain.
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." II Corinthians 12:9

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