Monday, June 03, 2013

Two Sundays in a Row

"I'm just so scared"

That statement was uttered from me at about 8am on Sunday morning - and, boy, does it sum up a whole lot of emotions.  It was said to my mom as I asked her to come in again to the massage room, after I had dozed off following her first effort in relieving the intense pain I had come to her with that morning.   She had already helped a ton with the skull pain I'd had, but the pain had migrated to my neck and I felt so helpless.

Excruciating.  Incapacitating.  Debilitating.  Helplessness.  Loneliness.  Darkness.  Hopelessness.  Survival Mode.  FEAR.

Waking up on two Sundays in a row with this level of pain has lent itself to lots of time to reflect on the place it puts me - and it is a very bad place.   There is the physical pain, which was bearable up until the early morning hours of Sunday - and then....turns into what I felt like in labor.  Where all I want is to have someone knock me out so I won't feel it.  On the way out to my parent's house, I was curled up in the backseat of the vehicle, throwing up in a bucket, alternating between shaking from chills, to sweating from overheating.  Ugh.

Then there's the self-pity over what I'm missing out on.  This weekend was especially horrendous as Julie was here for a mere 24 hour stretch.  I was able to spend about 30 minutes with her.  I had planned on staying up chatting with her Saturday night after the Trinity Formal and Heather's party, I had planned to be out on the boat with her and the family - along with Michael Chase, on Sunday.  I had planned on being in the vehicle to drive her up to meet up with her family Sunday afternoon.  Instead, she spent a pretty good chunk of time here in our living room, while I wasted away in the bedroom.

Worst over all, though, is the absolute despair that sets in.  When I'm healthy, I feel like I can keep a very balanced perspective on how God uses these headaches to keep me Heaven-minded, and able to be compassionate and have empathy on others who suffer.  But, in the midst of it, all of my perspective is shot.  And, I worry.  I imagine every future important day of my life being swallowed by this.  I know that the level of pain has increased over the years, so that haunts me as well.   How much worse can it get?  I feel horrible for consuming my parent's time two weekends in a row to "fix me", but on the other hand, I find myself thinking about circumstances I may face in the future when I won't have access to Mom (i.e. upcoming roadtrip).  The what-ifs are paralyzing.

After the second time Mom worked on me, I felt considerably better, but still nauseous and weak.  I slept until 2:30, staggered into the living room just in time for Julie to leave, and took pain medicine to try to take the rest of the lingering pain away.  By about 5, I was up again, and feeling significantly recovered.  Alive again.  With hope again.  Able to reflect.  And, I reflected quite a bit as I stayed up much later than normal (that's what happens when you sleep all day!).

What I go through is a sucky situation.  But, when it comes to physical pain, I can easily count a half dozen people in my life that go through it just as bad or worse than me.

And yet, after the period of my life I went through feeling such anxiety and resulting depression because of that - I think I'd still pick physical pain over the haunt of emotional/psychological pain.   And, worse yet, the pain of grief and heartbreak over loss is so beyond anything I've ever experienced.  It's endless.  Unlike the stop and start of what I go through. 

I "saved" this blog post before pressing "Publish" - to try to think of some way to sum this whole story up in a nice little package.  And, I got stuck.  So I did what many of us do these days when we need an answer.  I "Googled" it.  =)  I Googled "God and Pain" and I found this...and it is kind of gritty, and not a neat little answer, but it sure gives much better of an answer than I ever could, from the perspective of a person who's gone through more pain than I can ever imagine...

Is God's Purpose Worth Your Pain?
by Karen Rabbitt

Wouldn’t you just like God to tell you what he thinks about your suffering? I mean, who wouldn’t? Maybe in a personal letter. Where he spells out what he sees in all your pain.

For many years, I wrestled with him about where he was when my father took me, his four-year-old daughter, out to the cornfield behind our house to take his pleasure at the expense of my pain. How could God let that happen?

And where is he in the bitterness of broken romances, the anguish of jobs lost, the struggles of all the refugees in the world, the hunger of the 800 million people who don’t even have enough food?
After thirty years of prayer, thought, and study, I sat down one day and these words flowed. In the form of a letter to a semi-autobiographical “Annie,” this is how I see God’s perspective on our distress.

The Father of Jesus
1 Golden Way
New Jerusalem

My Dearest Annie:
I know you are unsure of me these days, particularly wondering whether you really are dear to me. Your twenties have been such painful years, haven’t they? I know you’ve wondered whether you would ever stop crying.
And those breakdowns that landed you in the hospital—such terror—thinking you were going to be rolled up in a little ball and thrown out into the empty universe. I’m so sorry you had to go through all that. My heart has bled for you.
You’ve been wrestling with me these days. You don’t know how important that struggling is to me. I will always rather fight with you than to watch you walk away. Please keep telling me how you feel. You seem to understand that you have to keep wrestling if you ever want to make sense of these difficult years.
You’ve particularly been wrestling with me about free will. I wanted to write to you today because you’ve begun to see it differently. Up until now you’ve always said, “Free will isn’t worth what it costs! It was a human choice in the garden that led to all this pain, and it was my father’s choices that have provoked so much terror in my life.”
You’ve blamed me for creating such a system. You admitted to me two weeks ago Saturday that you actually hated me. (I was so glad to hear you confess that!) And now, in these last two weeks, it has begun to dawn on you that there’s no real goodness on earth without real evil. The same ability to choose that creates evil also yields goodness.
Do you get it, really? I want people who will love me freely, without coercion or manipulation. That means you all need to have a choice to walk with me or to walk away from me. I know it’s confusing, too, because it’s hard for you to evaluate who’s with me and who’s not.
Like your father, who looked like he was walking with me but sure walked away from me that day in the cornfield when he molested you. Have you ever thought about what I felt that day?
I know you’ve been angry with me about how I’ve set up the system, but think about it from my point of view: I want a family to love. So I made Adam and Eve with the ability to be my children. But they walked away from me and unleashed such evil and suffering.
How I grieved! I was sorry I’d made them. Every violent thought broke my heart. And that’s how I felt that day in the cornfield. I wept over you both, knowing what your father’s sin would cost in your life, and in his. And, do you see that I could not intervene?
If I stopped your father, it would only be fair to stop all the evil choices and then where would human choice be and then how would I get my family? I want a family! I want an enormous, extended family. I want people who want to come to family reunions.
Well, it’s not that I couldn’t intervene in the most literal sense—I could, of course. What I mean is, if I did routinely stop bad choices, that would be the end of choice. Real choices require real consequences. Maybe you think I could just make you love me, but I want a family who really loves me.
But let me tell you, it was excruciating for me to restrain myself. It would have been much easier to stop your father. It is the thought of that glorious family reunion that sustains me.
I mean, imagine what it would be like for you to hold your three-year-old daughter while she had a bone marrow tap. You could hardly stand it, could you? You’d be able to stand it only if you believed that procedure was the only way to cure her disease.
You could hold your screaming daughter only if you understood the purpose; and, even then, you could barely endure not intervening. Well, I can barely stand not stopping human choice, either, but it is the only way to accomplish my purpose.
So, I wanted to write this letter now because you are beginning to understand the value of free will. I want you to understand the next piece, too, that human choice costs me more than it costs any of you.
You’ve understood Jesus’ cross, somewhat—that I had to lose a part of myself so that we could gain a new life together. You’ve grasped that I had to suffer for you; I don’t think you’ve quite understood that I also suffer with you.
And you just have to trust me about whether the purpose is worth the pain.
But try to understand, I’m neither a masochist nor a sadist. I don’t allow such evil because I find pleasure in pain, either mine or yours. I suffer, and I ask you to suffer with me, for a life together that I know will be worth what it costs both of us.
Bless you, dear one.
I love you,

We can trust a God who suffers with us:
One of God’s first words to describe himself in Exodus 34:6 is “compassionate.” That means “to suffer with.”
Isaiah 63:9 says, “In all their (Israel’s) distress he (God) too was distressed.”
When Lazarus died, recounted in John 11:35, Jesus wept with the mourners.
And Jesus says in Matthew 25:40, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” He is so close to those who suffer that he says we relieve his pain when we relieve their pain. And sometimes we are “the least of these.”
How can God truly love us and not suffer with us? Love means identification with the beloved, to the extent of tender empathy.
The Biblical God is a purpose-driven God. He means to create a family who loves him. In order to fulfill that purpose, he gives us a choice to walk with him or walk away. That choice costs both us and him. And his purpose is worth the pain. Writing to the Romans, (8:18) Paul asserts “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
That cornfield abuse from my father led to much depression and anxiety. And yet, God has healed and redeemed that pain. He has held my hand as we’ve walked together into a rich and satisfying life.
If we wrestle with him until he blesses us, know there is always more to learn, and believe he means to give us an abundant life, we can find the joy that Papa-God desires for us.
Send Karen your e-mail comments
Excerpted and adapted from Trading Fathers:  Forgiving Dad, Embracing God by Karen Rabbitt, M.S.W.

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