Thursday, September 8, 2011

Lessons in Suffering

Yesterday was a big day.  I drove myself home…put on real clothes (real clothes = no drawstring)…smeared a little make up on my face…and went back to work.  Yep, yesterday was a big day.   
The plethora of drugs I swallow daily have stopped tormenting me…and started to heal me.   I’m clearly getting better.  The dark circles are gone.  The sarcasm and jolly sense of humor are back.  And I’m actually making plans for my return to “normal.”  But the biggest milestone to date is that I’ve been nausea-free for almost two weeks now.  For those of you who know my story…that is a miracle.  I’ve suffered from different levels of (undiagnosed) nausea every week since about 2006.  Five years of suffering…appear to be at an end.  I want to do a jig…but, admittedly, I’m afraid.  Partly because I get worn out pretty easily…partly because I don’t have any pants that fit…and partly because I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop.   Nausea-free?   It almost seems too good to be true.
The last two months have been hell.  Seriously…the worst, most excruciatingly miserable months of my life.   I remember one day in particular.  It was the day I found out something important about my faith.   It was more than a month into my illness…despite a trip to the ER, a 4-day hospitalization, and multiple tests…I remained undiagnosed.   Weeks of constant, acute nausea…with little to no relief.    Heh.  You know all those things you learned in the church about what to do when you’re suffering?   Pfffft…those lessons felt impossible on that particular day.  I tried to pray…but I couldn’t.  I tried to remember Scripture…but…I couldn’t.   All the things I had been taught to do in Sunday School…all the things I knew I was supposed to be doing…I just…couldn’t.  So, that day as I sat on my parent’s couch…head between my knees…shaking…dry heaving…crying…I started to do the only thing I could think of…the only thing that made sense.  I silently began to beg.  Over and over again I chanted in my head the only thing I truly wanted…
Death.  I begged the Father to let me come Home.
Some of you may be scandalized by that statement.  But I’m guessing that some of you may know exactly what I’m talking about. 
So, here’s a fun fact about me.  I love words.  (My family would say that my love of words allows me to use really big words in the wrong context…but, I’m ok with that)  I recently uploaded a dictionary app to my phone…and it’s my new favorite diversion.  Today’s word is “inculcate”…a great word…as a corporate trainer, I try to inculcate as often as possible.  In fact, I’m planning on using the word “inculcate” repeatedly in this blog entry until you’re so overcome with curiosity that you look it up and thereby remember it.   Heh…I digress.  You see, as I prepared to write about my experience on the day I begged for death…I really, really wanted to find just the right word for you…to encapsulate how I felt.   The word that kept coming to mind was ”despond.”  Whew…a heavy word.  A verb.  It means to be depressed by loss of confidence, courage or hope.  
So, I asked myself…in that moment when I begged God to please, please let me come Home…was I really despondent?   Hmmmmm.  Loss of confidence…check.  Loss of courage…admittedly, yes.  Loss of hope?  Absolutely not.  If anything, that was the purest moment of hope I’ve ever truly experienced.

Here’s the thing, friends…I wasn’t despondent.  Yes, I was being sucked into the black hole of pure, unfettered misery…but I still had hope.  I could have been sitting naked in Time Square and I wouldn’t have registered even an iota of shame…because my heart was so distracted by hope.   That was the day I fiercely rejected every comfort this world has to offer and with my last vestige of rational thought, I reached for my Father’s promise:  He will wipe every tear from my eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain (or nausea). All these things…all my suffering…will be gone forever. 
As you’ve probably guessed by now, He didn’t acquiesce to my silent pleas for death.  I’m still here…and what’s more, I’m getting better.   Heh.  I sure am glad He rejected that particular request because I sure do like a lot of things about life.  I'm a broken, raggamuffin woman…but through my suffering, Abba is teaching me to like the RIGHT things about life. Apparently, He wants me to stick it out a little longer...and spread the good news. 
So, before I go, I want to share with you one of the important things I learned on that fateful day.  Something that I almost missed. You see, despite my begging, He didn’t call me Home…and…He didn’t take away the suffering.  I was tortured by nausea for weeks after that day...and endured even worse digestive angst.  With a quiet (and patient) tenderness, Abba taught me that sometimes the suffering isn’t fixed…and sometimes our bodies remain broken…but wherever there is hope…there is life.   
For everyone reading this blog who knows about suffering…you are uniquely equipped to inculcate the message of true hope.   (And because I know that you may be too miserable to be excited about that…heh…I want you to know that I understand…and I’ve got your back)

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