Posted by: karanoel | January 24, 2022

A crisis of pain

What started as fairly mild leg pain at the start of the year quickly became a searing pain that refused to let me sit or drive without the sense of being tortured. After assuming it was a recurrence of a self-diagnosed quad strain I suffered last summer, I changed my mind and re-diagnosed myself with a pinched nerve.

(Not my actual body!)

A visit to my chiropractor confirmed that it was indeed an issue with my back, not with the leg I’d been coddling, which was frankly very confusing given my complete lack of back pain. It is most likely a herniated disc, I was told; something not uncommon for someone my age as wear and tear catches up with our middle aged bodies. But that was little comfort to this interrupted version of my life when my days became centered around seeking help, avoiding pain and wrestling with discouragement over this new freedom-sucking reality.

I’m still waiting on an MRI so I can start physical therapy and learn to tend to the right body part in the right way, but after several chiropractic appointments, a fair bit of advil and ice packs and a good dose of caution, I am now feeling almost all the way better. I can sit in the car without crying – or even tensing up, and I’m hardly thinking twice about the existence of this issue. 

This is certainly something to cheer about… and believe me, I am. However, I am shocked at how quickly my passionate promises to “do whatever it takes!” waned as the crisis passed and the pain subsided. Even though I knew in my head the problem was not resolved, I felt a sense of relief that the ordeal was over and permission to return to the fairly careless way I’ve treated my back. If there is a clear path back to a crisis of pain, I’m pretty sure this is it. 

On the flip side, fear voiced itself with a general kind of paranoia (“Chase, stop slouching! It’s bad for your back!” “John, Don’t bend over while holding the microwave! You’re going to tweak something!”), as well as specific moments of panic that maybe I screwed something up again and will have to start the whole wretched process over (like the day I suffered dearly for pruning the garden).

But if I step back from the immature responses of panic and denial, I see that this has been a gift; an opportunity to humble myself before the Lord and others by admitting my weakness, my fear and my need for help. I received a diagnosis and care from a trusted doctor who was, unlike the medical team of myself and Google, actually qualified to treat me and impart necessary guidance. I received prayer from trusted friends that led me back into a place of rest and hope, and even chased away the pain, enabling me to see the beauty of asking for help and to experience God’s love in a powerful new way. And though I have only experienced a drop in comparison, I gained needed compassion for the people around me who are suffering.

These are things I want to hold onto; to continue to build on and be transformed by, rather than just breathing a sigh of relief and moving on. But I also want to do my best to keep myself from future moments of crisis by addressing this known area of weakness today… and next week… and next year. Not out of fear, but out of wisdom, so that I don’t get stuck in a constant cycle of pain and reaction. But following through on things like strengthening exercises, no matter how beneficial, is not a given, since self-discipline is a whole other kind of weakness for me. It will take more humility, help and prayer. But wouldn’t that be just like the Lord to use this thing the enemy meant for evil to grow me in an area where I’ve been longing for ages to see change?

There are so many parallels I would love to draw. Maybe I will in future posts. But for now, I would like to ask: Are you experiencing a struggle that God might want to use for your good? Are there ways you could humble yourself – maybe with a whole new level of honesty with yourself or others, or by asking for prayer or help? Is there an area of weakness that, with the help of the Lord and some trustworthy people, you could be working to strengthen so you don’t find yourself in a crisis spin cycle? Wherever you are in your life and whatever you are experiencing – even if you are in the 117th episode of the same crisis, I want to make sure you know that there is no shame and no condemnation. Just opportunity. And mountains of grace to step into it.

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19


Responses

  1. Yes, Kara! I’ve had many God-is-using-this issues, physical and otherwise, and no doubt will have more. I may not be able to keep this body forever, but I draw a little closer to its Creator with every such humbling.

    • Glad you’re feeling better, btw!

    • I’m sorry about the issues you’ve been having (I recently read about your thumb) but have to admit it’s good to know I’m not alone. And it is a beautiful thing that we are learning to bow low in the process so our loving God can lift us up.


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