Breathing out, I open my eyes and my chest jolts in pain. Sitting on my recliner for the third day straight I am desperate to escape. I long for my younger years when summer meant freedom from school and fun-filled trips to the lake. Lately, my adulting summers include financial stressors and as of a week ago, a physically painful detour. One moment I was five minutes from home, and the next, I saw the large black vehicle too late. My limited memory recalls attempting to swerve, but then <<CRASH>> I heard the shattering of glass and the denting of metal, and then I was spinning to a sudden stop. I unbelted, and crawled out on to the ground, my whole body shaking. I didn’t appear to be too injured beside the blood dripping down my glass speckled hand. I focused on breathing; it was suddenly hard to breathe in and out. My body shook and my chest sent out shocking vibrations with every sudden movement.
So I breathe in, and I breathe out. I close my eyes again, and float away from the broken body solemnly perched in its recliner.
This past week I have found myself stuck between a rock and a hard place, and honestly, with each passing hour my patience is becoming more and more exhausted. I cry on a regular basis and shout obscenities at God in a “Why me?” “When will I get my big break?” “Where were you?” fashion. It is difficult being tasked as the “tragedy child” or I guess, adult. I know we all have our own struggles, and not everyone is as open with theirs as I am with mine, but at times it really does seem like some people have everything going for them. I am not ‘those people’. (I am far, far away from ‘those people’.) Don’t get me wrong, I don’t wish this on anyone, honestly, but I really do hope that someday soon (like really, really soon) I’ll get my break.
It’s not just the accident or injury that tests my patience, but also my inability to find a job that combines passion, money and benefits. Knowing without a shadow of a doubt that God called me home, I’m becoming more and more worn with every application. Angry tears line my eyes as well-meaning friends offer ideas of “settling for now” or positions that would at least pay well. My insides tear and tremble as I consider settling again. When is my time?
Deep breath in, and let it out. I am constantly reminded by friends and family to breathe. Diagnosed with four hairline fractured ribs and a cracked sternum, the doctors told me that time and deep breathing was necessary to help my body heal, and fight off pneumonia. Implemented in my hour schedule are ten deep breaths and five usually painful coughs. So in the midst of career and personal turmoil, God is reminding me to breathe. You’re not okay. That’s okay. Just breathe. You will be okay.
This I know is true:
- I am in pain – physical, emotional, all of it.
- I am not doing well.
- I wish, for once, I’d get a break.
- My positivity wanes as I weaken.
- Even considering settling prickles anxious tingling within my heart and soul.
- I am awesome, and as much as the devil tries to knock me down, I will continue to get up again – no matter how pissed off or frustrated I am about it.
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” – 1 Peter 5:6-11 (NKJV)
It was a sad day when my favorite activity (and life’s best medicine) suddenly sent waves of pain throughout my entire body. Though I pride myself in having a high tolerance for pain, I knew the moment had come that I needed to humble myself and allow the professionals to do what they do best. My anxiety perked as my bruises deepened their purple coloring, and the area of my chest, that caused a shock of pain to shake my system any time I moved against gravity, didn’t seem to bruise at all. Checking my modesty at the door, I was poked, prodded, scanned, and lectured. My dedicated peoples faithfully stayed beside me each step of the six-hour journey. Though I was grateful never to be alone, I was not a fan of their “game” at the end of the night. Rewarding their childlike patience, I painfully played along as my step-father and best friend (and mother) attempted to raise my pulse by seeing how hard they could get me laughing. I’m glad they, at least, could find pleasure in my pain…
For the past week, I’ve found myself thinking nightly, I can’t wait until I can laugh without pain. It really is the little things we take for granted. Evenings with my new roommates are swiftly becoming bittersweet memories for me. God has blessed us with a beautiful town-home on a golf course where we can see both sunrises and sunsets! God surely uses his finest paints to coat the skies in magnificent light. The golfers, and their self-boasting abilities also provide free and interesting entertainment, as my skin soaks in the sun’s Vitamin D delight. God surely granted me a fine establishment where I can heal, with incredible laugh therapists at my side. However, I have never been in as much pain as when we find ourselves lost in a spree of laughter. Sharp jolts emit from within my cracked sternum and outward, as I continuously hope for the day of pain-free joy.
Generally, I try to spin my struggles into a positive or humorous light, but this time I want to solidify the truth in this statement: “I’M NOT OKAY. IT’S OKAY. JUST BREATHE. I WILL BE OKAY.” In the Scripture posted above we learn that we should “share our cares with the Lord, for He cares for us”. Though God knows all, He reminds us He is present and listening, we can tell Him our troubles. It’s okay to not be okay. Sometimes we need to shake our fists at Heaven and ask “Why me? Why now? and When will it ever work out?” Angry tears work best when they are emptied and expressed. God is present in my (your) pain. And bless His heart, He’s willing to listen to us banter on and on about how we are not okay.
(Just one glance at my poor totaled car tightens my chest, hastens my heart, and saddens my soul. I wish this experience on no one ever.)
Reflecting on the past week, I breathe in slowly, and let it out. My favorite Scripture comforts as my Kentucky quilt cocoons me in a warm, soothing embrace. The evening laughter pains send shock-like ripples of pain through my system, but the Words of Truth remind me, It’s not okay, but you are going to be okay. And don’t forget to breathe!
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed…
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
– 2 Corinthians 4: 7-9; 16-18 (NIV)