In 2004 my husband had a back surgery that consisted of a total disc replacement. His L5/S1 disc had ruptured. They took out this disc and replaced it with a prosthetic disc. As of almost 2 weeks ago his L4/L5 disc (the one right above his prosthetic disc) has also ruptured. This means a lot of pain and numbness in his legs and feet. His surgeon's office wants to try and manage the pain for the next few years because there are some new medical technologies on the horizon that he would be a great candidate for.
In March of 2001, my husband Matt suffered a terrible back injury. Only a year and a half in to our marriage, we entered in to a wilderness season that would last 10 years. In this 10 year period (also dubbed the "fast track maturity plan" by my dad), there was much suffering; physically (obviously), mentally, and emotionally... for both of us. My suffering came in the form of watching my husband and best friend suffer. I watched him be in constant pain, trying to manage it with addicting pain medication, that really didn't work. I watched him struggle with the thoughts that he would no longer be able to do any of the physical activities that he used to, while watching all of his friends continue on with them. He constantly doubted that others even believed him when talking about his pain. He struggled with no longer being able to work and provide for his family. He felt as is if life was happening and passing him on by. As his wife, I wanted nothing more than to fix everything! I wanted to stop his physical pain, to bring truth to the lies, and joy to his heart. But there was NOTHING I could do... except watch.
The upside to living in the wilderness is God's faithfulness--well, if we choose to follow His leading through it. We chose to follow Him. It was dubbed our "fast track maturity plan" years because following Christ through suffering means you grow. He uses it so we would draw close to Him. When we draw close to Him we see, feel, and experience His character in ways that blow our minds. As we learn who He is more and more we begin to learn who we really are and how He really sees us. The Lord began healing both of our hearts from abuse, pain, sin, false identities, and much more. He took down all the walls that we had built up and set us free. For me personally, He delivered me from anxiety, fear, doubt, and healed my heart from wounds of the past. He told me and showed me that I am beautiful, strong, intelligent, and good enough. He showed me that I am worth it-- worth pursuing, worth loving, and that there is nothing that I could do to change how He already feels about me... AND that what He feels about me is sufficient enough. He taught me how to let go of control and trust Him for my husband. He taught be how to be the wife that my husband really needed. Much of the same is true for Matt--just in the ways he needed healing, deliverance and freedom.
The results are good. The process is hard. The freedom in the end is SO worth it.
Like I said, our freedom and transformation are indescribable and I wouldn't change anything! But it was HARD! The amount and intensity of my feelings through this process was heavy. I do not miss it. I mean, no one wants to relive wilderness experiences. But that's exactly what this new injury feels like. When Matt told me the news this past week, I was overwhelmed with the feelings of the past. Especially with certain trigger words, like "pain management", I was brought back to the emotions of the suffering once experienced. I feared I would have to watch him suffer all over again. I feared that he would become addicted to the narcotics again. I feared having to watch him go through dark seasons and feeling helpless through it. I feared (and still do) the unknown... not knowing when this is going to change... when there will be a solution... when there will be relief. It hurts me so much to see him in pain. I'm scared of reliving the past ALL OVER AGAIN!
The truth is that we are NOT in that wilderness anymore. The Lord spoke very clearly last year that we were leaving our 10 year wilderness and entering in to the promise land. We've been living here for a year now. This injury is a new experience because we are new people experiencing it in a new place. We have been TRANSFORMED! We are NOT the people we used to be. Yes, we have much to learn and grow in, but we are not who we once were! Our Father is GOOD! He is FAITHFUL! He LOVES us with an everlasting love. He wraps me in His arms and COMFORTS me to my very core. He WILL do great things through this like He always does... whether that's through a miraculous healing or a deeper spiritual formation. Either way, everything works together to bring Him glory.
Clearly there's a huge difference between my feelings and the truth. So what does this mean? It means it's time to practice what I preach. Feelings are not to be ignored, stuffed down, or pushed aside. Yet, feelings also shouldn't be the guide to our choices because they are not stable or reliable. Before, I held it all in. Partly because no one ever asked how I felt, but even if they did I don't know that I would have been able to give them an answer... I had no identity, and therefore no confidence to be vulnerable with my heart. That is different now. I know who I am in Christ. My full confidence lies in who He says that I am. My full confidence also lies in knowing more of who He is. So I'm choosing to live this out, transparently, to be able to show all who read this the power and faithfulness of Christ, and how this process of living through hard circumstances can look walking with Christ. I'm sharing my feelings because they are what they are. I'm choosing to live this out in community and allow others to minister to my heart (not an easy thing for me). I'm processing my feelings and then laying them at the cross. I'm dealing with my feelings, but believing the truth. I'm choosing to spend time in His presence allowing Him to love me more which will chase away the fear and fill me with strength and courage. I'm holding the hand of Jesus as we walk down this unknown path. My prayerful attitude is this: "Harbor me in the eye of the storm. I'm holding on to the love that you swore." John Mark McMillan
Saturday, September 22, 2012