At the end of 2019, I took the month of December off for a personal sabbatical. I knew the Lord had some things He wanted to teach and talk to me about. I was also having a major surgery and wanted to leave space for the recovery and healing. Little did I know, that the pain in my recovery would be how He would speak to me.
Let me be honest, I have learned (or so I thought) how to relax when the Lord wants to do something new. And I’m not naive enough to think it will be easy or without pain. I have learned though, that it is always worth it, so I don’t fight it anymore. No real change comes easily. It goes against your normal state of comfort. Ask anyone who has tried to change their diet, fitness regimen, or break unwanted habits. It’s hard!
The surgery I had scheduled was to “fix” issues and complications from a previous surgery I had in my 20’s. Looking back, the surgery I opted for back then was not the wisest move, however, I did it and here we are now needing to address those “issues”.
How many times has that been the case? How many times do we have unseen complications that affect our everyday life that stem from something we did WAY BACK WHEN? Well, the Lord knows and cares enough about us to correct those things in us and for us.
Going into the surgery, I knew it was going to be, well complicated. It wasn’t a cut and dry kind of surgery. It was a “this is the plan but we will see what I need to do once we get in there,” kind of surgery. It was set to take 2 hours, it took over 5 hours. I had a doctor who is the best of the best in his field. He was more than competent and experienced then any other doctor I have met, so I was at ease in his hands. He only took my case because he had empathy for me and how I was having to live due to these “complications”. The Lord is so good. He has the deepest compassion for us as we endure our “complications”. Whether they are self made or simply a byproduct of life.
My doctor came out of the OR and looked at my husband and said, “It was a difficult surgery, I’m beat, but I think she will do well.” I love how he was so honest but also so hopeful. Sometimes, the things we need removed and addressed can be so hard, so difficult and it’s ok to be honest about it. But in being honest, we should also bring hope.
The first two days after the surgery I was doing well. REALLY well! I felt great! Minimal pain and other then moving slowly, I was good! Isn’t that how it goes when the Lord steps in to rearrange things inside us? To remove the things that may cause us pain and constant irritations? We feel the relief and freedom!
Then there came day 3…well, I think I went to hell! For real though. All seemed well until certain parts of my internal body became paralyzed. Let me be clear, these are vital parts for releasing toxins and the gas that was pumped into me from the surgery and they all completely shut down. I don’t know if I can truly describe with words the pain I felt. It was like nothing I have ever experienced before. It was an unrelenting, never ending, intense internal and external pain and pressure all at the same time. I have had 3 children (2 without drugs), a motorcycle wreck with road rash from head to toe, and a similar abdominal surgery and this was worse than all of those. I was expecting SOME pain from this surgery. I mean that is to be expected, right? but I was not prepared for anything like this.
As it goes, sometimes when the Lord removes things from us that no longer serve us and has become a place of irritation and pain, it is not always easy to recover from that. It feels amazing at first but then the unexpected happens. The unplanned. The things that maybe “shouldn’t” have happened but did. The things that make this oh so much worse then you ever imagined. A pain like you have never felt before. The kind of pain that makes you think, “If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t do it!” It’s where the pressure from the old things inside of us well up and meet the the pressure from the outside pressing in and as it hits all the new tender places scream out in pain making life almost unbearable. You knew this process wouldn’t be easy but you can’t even imagine how truly hard it is until you’re in the depths of it. Until you can’t back out of it.
This my friend, changes you. There is no way it cannot.
At one point my husband called the doctor because the pain got so bad. My daughter, who is a paramedic, said, “This isn’t normal, she needs to go to the hospital.” I was in a state none of them had ever seen me in. We had already been to the ER once but the pain was unrelenting, AGAIN. Jimmie called the doctor on a Sunday afternoon and believe it or not, the doctor answered! Guys, I have to tell you, the fact that this doctor took the time to answer his phone on a Sunday afternoon while he was at the zoo with his young children and cared about my current state of being during his personal family time was astonishing to me. Most people would have ignored the call and let it go to voicemail, then responded later if “necessary”. I mean I would have, but he didn’t. He answered and cared more about the state of pain I was in then whether or not I was “doing” what I was suppose to be doing for my recovery (which I was).
He assessed where I was and cared for me in my pain. The doctor told my husband, “Treat the pain. Don’t worry about what is working or not working inside. Treat the pain. She’s been through a major surgery. A trauma. If one pill doesn’t work, give her two. If she needs it sooner then what’s on the bottle then give it. Her body cannot heal properly if you don’t treat the pain.” (🙌🏻THANK YOU JESUS!)
This was the beginning of the true healing process.
Sometimes we are so focused on the “getting better” or “doing what we are suppose to” that we forget it’s not always about what we do or don’t do that contributes to our healing. Sometimes we feel that we should be strong enough to just tough it out because we have always been “strong enough”. We tell ourselves that so many people have gone through this before, we can handle it! But your pain is not the same as my pain and my pain is not the same as your pain. Your “surgery” is not the same as mine. We cannot compare what we should be able to do to what others have done. We can set ourselves back by not listening to our bodies, hearts, feelings, or spirit for the signs that intervention is needed. You see, my case was not routine. I bet yours isn’t either. My pain was not the “norm” for recovery. I bet yours isn’t either. I did not bring this kind of pain on by anything I did or didn’t do. It was an unexpected byproduct of what I had been through. I was doing everything “right” Yet, I still needed intervention.
The Lord, our Great Physician, knows what we need. He knows how to customize instructions JUST FOR US! He knows when you just need to treat the pain and not worry about the progress because by doing that you are making progress. He knows there is no need to worry about what’s working and what’s not working because He knows us, He created us. He knows things will start to work as needed once we get to where we need to be. AND He is always available for us. All we need to do is call Him and ask. OR have someone call if you can’t. Honestly I was in so much pain I couldn’t have called. I couldn’t even form a sentence, but those who loved me could and did. The Lord will always bring you those who can and will come to Him on your behalf.
The Lord cares about your pain not simply your progress. He wants to treat your pain for the help of your progress. He doesn’t want to you to suffer through when there’s a comforter here for you. He doesn’t want you to suck it up and deal with it. He wants to step in and help you through it. He care that you’re hurting and in need of relief from whatever is tormenting you.
After a trip to the ER, 2 emergency calls to the doctor, extra TLC from my family, and LOTS of pain killers, my “complication” came to an end. And yes everything started to “work as normal”. It took time. Longer than I expected actually. So long in fact I was a little scared because of how “abnormal” it was. Come to find out, I had a new normal! Unusual and different kind of normal but just like the doctor said it went back to where it needed to be.
I’m not fully recovered, but I’m no longer in pain. I’m working on learning my new “limitations” and building my strength. But through this entire process something deep in me has changed. You can’t go through that kind of longterm unrelenting pain and it not change you. I’m not sure how much has changed, or what all has changed but I know I have changed in deep places. Places that shape who you are, how you live your life, and how you love others.
You may have had some deep hard things that need removing or have been removed in you. You may have had some hard physical, emotional, mental or spiritual tender places that hurt like hell. You may have sat in a place of pain so intense you couldn’t function or even cultivate words to describe it. Maybe you’re there now. I’m here to tell you, you’re not alone. Call the One who can treat the pain. IF that’s too much for you right now, ask someone. He answers every call. He’s not too busy, and He cares about you and your pain.
Treating the pain where you are is the beginning of healing.
It’s the beginning of change.
Pain cultivates empathy and brings a change in us.
Your pain is not in vain. It is the starting place of healing.