Anniversary day … the 23rd Anniversary of my initial back injury … a freak accident that happened while working with severely, multiply handicapped preschoolers. So much has happened in those 23 years; a huge back surgery gone wrong, trying to find my way in a world where pain was screaming within me 24/7, yet was completely silent to the world around me. A world I found myself trying to disappear from. Medical Devices and injections were tried and initially worked but rather quickly failed. My maximum “sit limit”, apart from my recliner at home, was 3 minutes, so I became the woman who stood in the back at church and stood in a restaurant while eating a meal … you get the picture.
A big turning point for me was when I went to a 6 week chronic pain program. There I learned to push myself beyond what my brain and pain told me I could and could not do. Following my time at the clinic, I tried “stuff” anyway… concerts, travel, hiking, exercise and even a 5k race. Admittedly, all “stand up” stuff … and though I didn’t meet my end goal at the clinic of sitting for 12 minutes in a hard chair at a time … I continued to work at it until I could attend church and successfully eat a meal in pretty much any chair… (Chipotle, your chairs are STILL un-sit-able!!!).
In those years of pain my faith and prayer life were both challenged and changed. Either I believed God would bring good to me and glory to Him through it… or I didn’t. I studied scripture, watched the world around me and decided I believed despite circumstances.
A key scripture for me defined the algorithm for hope. First comes “rejoicing in our affliction”. It is the “rejoicing in our affliction” that produces perseverance. It is the perseverance that produces character and that proven character that produces, yes, hope. (Romans 5:3)
I would like to say I learned early on that the key to the algorithm is the “rejoicing”… but that would not be true. It took the hard work of faith, study and time for me to embrace the rejoicing. I learned that the ultimate test of faith is when mercy is denied. When I finally stopped trying to rejoice “for” my affliction, but instead began rejoicing in awe and delight of God’s greatness within it… there, I found the perseverance. I stopped praying that the pain would go away and started praying that God’s greatness would be seen through me in spite of it. A hard and not fast prayer change.
I already knew that the moment you connect the word “never” to any event … it most certainly will happen anyway. In the last 22 years, I openly confessed to anyone who would listen to me that I would never have another back surgery… NEVER! It wasn’t just the pain and suffering I didn’t want to revisit… but the anger towards my 1st surgeon that would pop up at times and challenge me to resolve it in a “spiritual” way. Whenever I thought I had laid my anger to rest, before the cross… I would find when challenged, that I would pick that anger and hold it tightly once again. I am still working on it…
So, my “never” happened on December 5, 2022. Once I felt I was suppose to take the leap of this surgery, I wanted it to happen quickly so fear could not have it’s way with me… but It required a long, arduous process of approval from my Worker’s Comp Insurance Company. In those 9 months of waiting I did battle fear… but God sent so many prayer warriors to pray me through the battle. They prayed me through my fears, and the arduous process full of hiccups so that I was able to focus solely on rejoicing at the awe and delight of God’s greatness. I can say by the prayers of many and the grace of God, the morning of surgery I felt an incomprehensible peace. I woke from the 6 1/2 hour surgery with less pain and more mobility than with my previous surgery. It was dramatic.
As I continue to recover, the seething pain in my left leg is rarely ever there. In honesty, I battle fear that the pain will take residence again… and at the same time… the lack of pain almost requires me to redefine who I am. Then I remember… it is not who I am… but who God is … and my rejoicing in the awe and delight of who He is. Yes, today I am rejoicing!
Happy Anniversary Day!