A number of tragedies hit our small community in the past month, all having to do with teens and young adults. Our school counselors, teachers, and administration rallied around the students and went into crisis and grief counseling mode, trying to ensure the kids’ safety as well as the assurance that they could talk with others when they needed help. And then last week the terrorist in New York and now the gunman in small town Texas, and more and more people are anxious and fearful. People are asking, “What is going to happen next?”
That’s how I have been feeling about my health. What next? Two weeks ago in the midst of all this tragedy, I was having a horrible week physically. I was going to doctors and still not getting answers and I knew at the core of me that something wasn’t right in my recovery. I prayed a lot. I cried a lot. I cussed a lot. Last week I added throwing things to my list of coping strategies. I was in so much pain, and not getting answers, and my prayers seemed futile, so I went out to the garage and found some empty coffee cans that we use to feed the dogs and I started chucking them at the garage door with all my might. I added some loud profanities at the top of my lungs. It felt pretty darn good. I realized that the coffee cans against the garage was really loud, and freaked the dogs out, so I decided to throw rolls of toilet paper instead. Really hard. With the cuss words. It helped. A little. I found out while having dinner with friends last night that there are things called Anger Rooms where you can go alone or with friends and smash things. There is something primal about healing while screaming and throwing things.
Finally my primary care referred me to a urologist and I saw the specialist last week. He immediately diagnosed me with Interstitial Cystitis—a bladder condition that causes excruciating pain and pressure. He said mine was most likely caused from all my surgeries and the inflammation within my body. This is why I have had so much referred pain down my back and tail bone. He prescribed treatment medication as well as twice weekly injections and before I even got home my pharmacy called and said that my insurance denied the request for the medicine. Now I have been on the phone since Thursday with doctors, insurance, and pharmacy trying to get this solved. Two of my appointments this week have already been cancelled because “authorization is pending.” Three words from hell. I am ready to go primal again. As frustrated as I am, it is so good to at least have an answer; to know that there is a reason my recovery has been so rough.
As I reflect on what I have been going through and think about the pain kids and parents in our community are going through, it makes me think about how different people cope with their circumstances. I am a 54 year old woman who has a strong faith foundation and I usually cope by talking things out with my husband or friends, by praying and reading my Bible, and by journaling and writing. Going on long hikes or bike rides or taking an intense spin class helps too. But sometimes you just gotta throw toilet paper at walls and cuss like a sailor. But so many people have not been taught coping strategies or are in such a depressed or anxious mental state that they aren’t able to clear their heads to use the strategies. It is then that people feel a sense of hopelessness. Hopelessness leads to despair and despair oftentimes leads to death.
Too often the Christian culture teaches us that if we just pray harder and act obedient, then we will get through our suffering. Too often the Christian culture teaches that if we are depressed or anxious then we don’t know the peace of God. Too often the Christian culture teaches that if we seek help through counseling or medication that we aren’t trusting God. These are all false and joy-robbing misconceptions. D.A Horton says, “The world needs to see Christians with tears.” Those of us who live under the covenant of God’s grace know that suffering is part of life, whether you are a Christian or not. To hide our pain, to act like all is great, to put on a happy face, is deceptive and hypocritical. Prayers of lament are scattered throughout the Bible. David, Job, Moses, Jesus, and many others cried out to God.
One of my hopes in my blog is to show that being a Christian doesn’t make your life easy or perfect or comfortable. Being a Christian doesn’t mean that you live a neat, tidy life and make the right decisions that align with your values all the time. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you have it all together and can cope with the most difficult situations.
Being a Christian is about being real, in the mess of life, but that you know you have the Almighty God/Intimate Savior walking with you. Being a Christian is understanding God’s glorious grace a little more each day, and the freedom that comes with that.
I wish that at my age I had it all together. I wish I coped better in some circumstances. I wish I trusted God more. I wish I had stronger faith. But I don’t. I am human. And Jesus knows it, so he covered me with his grace and forgiveness. And he is with me every day. Even when I cuss. And throw things. Even when I have a bitter heart. Even when I lose hope. Because Jesus is real. And I am real.
I have such a heart for young people. Young people who are lost and hurt; young ones who are suffering and seeking; young lives who are abused and bullied. I want them so much to know and feel the true love of God, to know that their identity is in Christ alone and that they can’t find it in their grades, or in sports, or in relationships, or in their looks. So to all the young ones, and to all those who are seeking things that aren’t giving them any kind of hope, I offer you Jesus. I offer you One who created you, who knows you, who chooses you, who adores you. I offer you One who says you don’t need to clean up, get your act together, do and say all the right things, in order to gain his love.
With all the tragedy, pain, brokenness and sadness in this world, I pray that through my suffering, my writing, you would know Jesus. I pray that because I choose to be vulnerable and raw, that You would know of Hope. That through Jesus you would know that you do not have to be perfect, that you will never be perfect, but that through Him, God sees YOU as perfect. I pray that if you need someone to talk to, to walk you through crisis, to listen and not judge, that you would reach out to me or to someone who can show you the way. You are not alone. We are not alone.