The redness and swelling in my fingers was down. The swelling in my feet and ankles – while not altogether gone – was reduced enough to see that I actually still had ankles. I was able to put my shoes on – all by myself (as opposed to the contortionist circus act that my husband and I had almost perfected). I was walking without the dreaded cane. And when a friend stopped by over the weekend, I stood in the driveway chatting with her for at least twenty minutes. You have no idea how nearly impossible that would have been just a month ago.
|Photo by Manic Morff|
All I wanted today was to wear a different pair of pants and shoes that weren’t trainers. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve managed to get some cute ones: leopard print and black with sequins – but there are days when I am just so over flat shoes. I need to get over being over that. Though there isn’t much walking on my job, there were enough steps today that walking in heels made an impact. Not a good one. I could feel it from my hips down to my toes and realized that this pair of pants probably wasn’t worth it.
Then at the end of the day, all I wanted to do was go to the library. I haven’t been to this favorite spot in months. They’ve renovating, and I just had to see it. I gave in and took my cane – and told myself we’d only be there for a few moments. We were, but moments were all that it took. The pain had been mounting all day and somewhere between Gluten Free Girl and Eric Ripert my body threw in the towel and said “enough.”
Sheer stubbornness and fury held me upright as I took one tiny knife-edged step after another towards the center of the library that seemed five miles away to where my husband sat. “Time to go,” was all I could manage.
Throughout the past year I have been reading amazing writers and absorbing talk about joy in all circumstances; giving thanks in all things; and learning to be content with the process. Most of the time, I am able to live this out and utter sincere gratitude even in the hardest areas of my life.
Friends, I have to confess that it wasn’t gratitude, praise, or joy that passed my lips tonight. When I fall, I go down hard, and it was so much anger, frustrated cursing, and ill-compressed rage that was ground out through my teeth tonight. There are times I don’t understand the plan here. I can’t comprehend what God has for me to learn amidst this weakness and this pain. I wonder what the point of it all is.
And then I think about what I’ve learned of suffering that I didn’t know before. I think of how I view others in similar or, Lord forgive me, even more difficult circumstances than I’m in. I used to be so proud of my strength, that I didn’t understand what it meant to be weak. But having strength stripped away and replaced with the humility of pain and the necessity of leaning on others has helped me develop more compassion for those in need.
My heart has softened, along with my iron hard expectations, and I find myself able to look with kindness and patience where I used to be dismissive and demanding. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve got a long way to go. Read enough of my Facebook posts about the sometime exasperations of my job and you’ll know just what I mean.
But I hope that I am listening and learning; that I am leaning in close and being quiet in spirit – even in the hard times – so that the Holy Spirit can whisper the lessons that I need to hear. I pray that my heart will continue to soften towards those who struggle and that I will be able to feel their pain in my own. I pray that as I continue to be broken and healed as God moves in me – both physically and spiritually – that this brokenness will point its way to redemption and the One who was broken for us all.