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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Life in the pain lane

Okay, goofy title, but a pretty apt description of how I see life right now. And it’s not just physical pain either, but something much deeper. Something that goes down to the roots of my religious thinking.

I'm starting to doubt God. Not His existence. But His goodness.

It didn’t bother me much to question God when I was a teenager. Or even as a young adult. I’d spout off my doubts to anyone who would listen and engage in an array of conversations, often coming away thinking I’d learned enough to make me feel okay.

But now my circle of influence grows larger than the student crowd at a university college. I’m a wife, mom, teacher, writer, and leader in community and writing groups. Were I to spout off the venom I feel growing inside, I’d do more hurt than I want to imagine.

Responsibility and years of Bible reading press in on me. But it doesn’t change the pain in my heart. And in all honesty, I don’t really want to talk it over with God. I know that’s the only place to find peace.

But He’s also the One allowing a whole host of painful things in my life.

Career challenges for both my husband and me. The great unknown with enough to know things could get rocky fast. Financial stress. Marital struggles under all the pressure. On top of that, in the past month I’ve been through a host of what I thought were “old people” tests to see why I’m falling apart at the seams. From EKG’s to x-rays to being zapped and bleeding from an EMG that tested the nerves in my arms and hands, I feel like crying “UNCLE” and not waking up until all of this pain is gone.

Which won’t be gone unless God decides I’ve had enough and starts healing the things I’ve begged Him for years to heal. I wish I could say with Job “Though He slay me, yet I will trust in Him.” Or that I could agree with the apostle Paul’s outlook and rejoice in my weaknesses.

But I’m not.

Some days I can’t even think straight because my blood sugars are so out of whack and I’m exhausted from not sleeping well. Usually I journal or type through my foggy mental state or questions about God, but now that’s another painful reminder of why I’m struggling with God’s goodness.

How is it good that my arms and hands are numb and painful because of carpal tunnel and cubital tunnel and I struggle to do the simplest of things I know I’ve been called to do? How is it good that I have yet another chronic illness that makes eating or not eating like a volcano erupting in my abdomen?

Maybe those are the wrong questions.

But my heart can’t get past them right now. Especially when I consider that my flawed genetics are going to set my kids up for serious physical issues in the future.

I know we live in a fallen world. I’m just struggling with how hard that world is falling on me right now.

I wish I had some insight to share or even a line of wisdom. But I’m empty.

The few people I’ve talked to about all this have repeated to me words I’ve said to other discouraged folks. “Run to God.” “God is a perfect Comforter and will heal your heart when you turn to Him.” I felt those words as truth when I said it and I’m sure my friends did too.

But those sentiments are hitting brick walls of confusion and doubt.

Then I think about my daughters. How will I teach them about God’s love if I don’t believe in it? How will I teach my seniors at church the Truth of God’s Word when I don’t even want to open it right now?

In typing that I recognize the stirring within me. I can’t teach if I don’t believe. And teaching is so much a part of who I am I can’t imagine not doing it. I love my girls too much to really consider walking away from God and leading them down a very wrong path.

God designed me that way. He gave me my children and my class of students knowing I’d come crashing into this construction area time of life. He also made me love the truth so much that I can’t escape it or put on a “Christian mask” until I “get over” this struggle.

So what do I do? I suppose in writing this and posting it, I’m taking the first tentative step out of what feels like a gaping black hole in the road.

I’m admitting my struggle. And I’m asking for prayer.

Last night my older two daughters hugged me before going to bed and said, “I’m praying for you.”

Then my youngest daughter crawled into my lap and looked at my red eyes. “You sad?” she asked.

“Yes” I said swiping at my tears.

She looked straight in my eyes and sighed, “I sorry, Mommy. I love you.”

Thinking back on that now I’m wondering if that’s not the key out of this quagmire of doubt.

To remember I’m loved. Not just by my kids, but by God.

Even if what He’s allowing in my life is beyond what I want to bear, His Word says He loves me. Maybe that’s what I should ponder instead of questions without answers.

God sees the end from the beginning. Maybe, just maybe, there is a good reason He’s allowing all this pain. Construction? Tearing down everything so that only what is immovable remains?

Maybe. The Bible sure says to expect that from life. Not sure why it’s so hard for me to wrap my mind around sometimes. Or to willingly accept.

Pray for me, will you? That I’ll have ears to hear and a heart open to whatever God says is best for my life.

I’ll pray that for you, too.

Hopefully together we can remind each other to hang on to the Truth. No matter what God’s “best” brings.

5 comments:

razorbackmama said...

Oh Amy!!!!!!!!! I have sooooooooo been there! I have said these exact words before:

"But He’s also the One allowing a whole host of painful things in my life."

"Then I think about my daughters. How will I teach them about God’s love if I don’t believe in it?"

I distinctly remember a time (LOL you may or may not remember it too ;-) ) when I literally could not sing "Jesus Loves Me" to my kids. I knew it in my mind and somewhat in my heart because of what the Bible says, but my life sure didn't manifest that love.

And then every time I turned around, I was slapped in the face yet again. It's one thing to feel betrayed by someone when you have God to run to, but when you feel betrayed by God....

And I learned that I still had to run to Him anyway.

It was through all of this that I learned that yes, I could say, "Though He slay me, yet I will trust in Him." (How funny that you said that, by the way, because that has become my life verse.) But not because I am super faithful or anything. It was only because of His Holy Spirit and the fact that I had no one else to turn to.

Every now and then He'd do something that would demonstrate His love for me (aside from His Son dying on the cross for me...when you're in the thick of GARBAGE that almost becomes meaningless). He sent someone to my door with a money order for over a thousand dollars. He sent a huge box of clothing for my children. (Not that you know anything about those. ;-) ) And even the little things like Christmas ornaments for our family since we couldn't afford even those that year, yet He knew how much getting them meant to me. So He had my stepmom send them, even though she and my dad almost never sent Christmas presents PERIOD.

One time, when I was at my very lowest, I was calling out to Him. I knew my cries were falling on deaf ears, as usual. "Lord, please. I cannot take any more of this."

He was supposed to say, "You're right. You can't. So I'm going to fix things and it will start to get better."

He didn't. :-P

Instead He reminded me of His Word. "My grace is sufficient for you." Not really what I wanted to hear, but you know what? Over 4 years after that day, I can say that His grace WAS sufficient. My life still stunk bigtime (I'm crying just thinking about it), but I dunno...He just somehow carried me through it.

The only reason I didn't fall away from my faith during that time is because of Him. He kept me and sustained me, and I'm confident He will you too.

I will pray for you, my dear friend. I know all too well how heart-wrenching this can be. :-(

Sally said...

Amy, dear, you are in my prayers! It never ceases to amaze me how you and I seem to see life so similarly, to experience so many of the same (and yet different in many ways too) things...The pain and hurt, the questions without answers. Sometimes all you can do is cry out to God and know that you are loved. I had an amazing thing happen to me...and I didn't even realize it when I did. I was on the phone talking to a friend of mine, telling her about some of the things I've been going through lately and I mentioned to her, almost in passing, "so I'm just wondering what God is preparing me for, who I'm going to end up helping." She actually stopped me and told me that I had an amazing attitude...I feel like I'm just resigned to it as a fact...God uses the things we go through to help us, and to help others. That doesn't make it any easier to go through. It does give us a little bit of a thread to hold onto. I would love to live a life with no suffering, I mean really...let's be honest here. But, scripture tells us that in this life there will be suffering. I could not bear that if I thought it was for no reason, that it would do nobody any good. I have to believe in Romans 8:28 "For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose." Sometimes God uses my suffering to work for the good of someone else He loves. That doesn't make him love me any less. Find comfort in the fact that you are helping others and that in your time of anguish not only are many, many others praying for you but that the Spirit of God himself intercedes on your behalf! Be encouraged...hang in there...crawl into your daddy's lap and stay awhile in his presence and let him remind you how much he loves you.

Heather said...

((((Amy)))

You are never alone.

Love,
Heather

Sharon Hinck said...

Dear one,
You write beautifully about the authentic pain that hits so hard it leaves us breathless. I'm praying especially that God will bring tangible reminders of His love and the human touch of friends and family giving you comfort...and that He'll protect you from well-intentioned but cliche'-spouting folks who THINK they have the reason for your struggles all figured out.

:-)

I think that's what drove me MOST crazy during times of chronic and unrelenting illness, financial struggle and fear--everyone else seemed to have theories and suggestions.

You are loved. You are precious. Life is REALLY REALLY hard sometimes, but it won't always feel as hard as it feels today.

Kaye Dacus said...

Cry. Yell. Scream. Wail. Whine. Throw things. Tell God you're not happy with Him. Even Job questioned God--just read God's response in the last few chapters of the book (the "Where were you when..." passages). Let your doubts and frustrations loose--whether privately or with a prayer partner. Don't keep it all inside, or the pain (spiritual and physical) will never go away. I just posted a comment on Ronie Kendig's blog about the spiritual desert I was in for the last two years. At times I was so angry with God for not being there; and yet when I railed at him, ranting, crying, and shaking my fists at Him, that was when I felt closest to Him--because I was communicating honestly with Him, not just repeating empty words and phrases I'd been taught were the "appropriate" way to pray.

Oh, Amy, I will be lifting you up during this time of struggle, praying that the Father wraps His arms of love and comfort around you and gives you the strength you need to face each challenge.

 
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