I never expected God would fill me up with so much joy, at the exact same time I’d be recovering from major back surgery! I’m two weeks into recovery, and God has been lighting up my life! Now don’t get me wrong… it hurts! The pain is intense. Just when I think the pain is beginning to diminish, it either comes back, or starts up again somewhere else!
But God has a sense of humor, and He knows what He’s doing ALL the time! I wasn’t listening as God tried to convince me to slow down. I needed rest, and it just wasn’t happening. As my body kept breaking down, God continued to urge me to rest in Him, but I believed rest was a waste of time. I did NOT believe God was a waste of time, and I’m so in love with Him for being patient with me. I just could not sit still and allow myself to soak up His Holy Presence; but I needed it… His rest… more than sunshine. I know that now.
I wrote about God, I looked up His verses and studied them, I listened to the words He said to me and wrote them down to encourage others, I sought counsel for things I didn’t understand, and thanked God for my elders wiser than me. I humbled myself and admitted my shortcomings, forgave others even when it hurt, and continued faithfully trusting God, even when it didn’t make sense… but I refused to… rest.
I told myself there wasn’t time; there was too much to do, and moments of rest were moments I could be accomplishing something. But the accomplishments were never enough, and every night I was still filled with self-condemnation, even when I had worked my fingers, or my back, to the bone. The voices from my past always left me feeling guilty and unworthy, like I must keep going to prove myself. But I was now at the breaking point. I was exhausted, and truly tired of suffering, and I just couldn’t break the cycle. No one in my precious, immediate family pressured me to keep going; in fact they all insisted I take a break and… rest. So did my dear friends. And I knew they really meant it. And I knew they were right. But the green light always said, “GO.”
And finally I began to get the message. I wasn’t taking care of myself, because I had never really learned how. During childhood, I’d been made to feel ashamed for doing well and for doing nice things for myself. So somewhere along the line; a long, long time ago, I had given up. I hadn’t given up on caring for my family, but I realized I had stopped caring for myself. I didn’t take the time to enjoy a book, write poetry, eat healthy, paint my nails, and just “stop and smell the flowers.”
I was doing everything for others, and nothing for myself. When I had time to myself, I didn’t use it wisely, because I felt it was useless. As a child, I’d taught myself not to get my hopes up, because I was constantly let down, and penalized for doing things that made me happy. Of course my children gave me great joy, so my focus was there. I just found our family seemed to be always doing something on everyone else’s agenda, and never anything on our own; or mine. If I didn’t start taking care of myself soon, I wouldn’t be able to take care of those I love the most…my family members. And I wanted to be there for my friends and sisters and brothers in Christ, the way God has helped me to be there for them before.
I began to make the necessary decision to take things off of my plate, and get serious about my surgery, and get serious about dividing my time equally in caring for both my family, and myself. This meant saying no to lots of things. I wasn’t concerned about not being liked, for I had discovered boundaries a long time ago, and am no longer into people-pleasing. I’m into pleasing God!
The hard part was giving up the couple things I had chosen to keep, like my Sunday School class and freelancing for Child Guide magazine, where I’m both a columnist, and a regular contributor. But God met me here too! I saw my daughter light up when she went to my friend’s Sunday School class and was welcomed by name with a cheerful smile. Yes, she wanted to go back! And my friend and editor of the magazine, kindly worked with me, as she always has, so I could have this season of rest and recovery, without any pressing deadlines.
Even though I was getting the message, the week before my surgery, I was frantically cleaning the house and calling in the troops to help me. Though I knew I should probably be relaxing, because my body would be enduring a lot of stress from the surgery, I stayed up late into the night two days prior to my surgery, instead of… resting. Though my family promised to take care of me and did indeed do everything I requested, I was determined to make sure my bedroom would be a sanctuary of peace for my recovery. When I got home, I wanted to make sure I would be able to… rest.
Besides, Pshaw! I could rest in the hospital after my surgery! Um… no. I didn’t realize then, that the post-operative pain would be so unbearable, I wouldn’t sleep a wink! Yet, I found myself joyfully writing a blog in the hospital that night instead. But this time, in spite of the excruciating pain, I could feel my body… resting. Even though I couldn’t sleep, I felt relaxed in my mind, because I knew that I was finally going to get a chance to… rest… and I was desperate to do so.
If I could easily kneel down; all the love, support, and encouragement (which is still coming my way) would have already humbly brought me to my knees. Instead, our family has appreciatively gathered, and bowed our heads each evening, thanking God for warm home-cooked meals; made by loving hands, and serving hearts. We’ve asked God to bless these beautiful women and their families, from my church and town. We’ve told God how very grateful we are for His provisions of delicious food, enjoyable visits, and playdates for my young daughter who is homeschooled; so she can remain happy, busy, and active with friends while I recuperate.
I’ve been able to bask in the warmth of the sun, while enjoying God’s beautiful flowers as they spring forth during my favorite season; in anticipation of my favorite holiday… Easter! What could be a more perfect time for rest and rejuvenation? I’m so thankful that Jesus died for me, so that no matter what lies ahead; my future, my family’s future, and the future of my Christian brothers and sisters; lies secure in our salvation through Jesus Christ!
Why am I so surprised about the immense joy which has come my way in the midst of pain? This isn’t some crazy coincidence; for God’s timing really is the best; and He knows when we most need the presence of joy. He prepared me for it, and without a doubt He gets the glory for the healing he is bestowing upon me, both inside and out. Because, the fact is, hundreds of brothers and sisters in Christ have been praying for me for a long time, and I’ve been anointed by both my pastor and my husband. Anointing is powerful, and we should expect good things when we receive the gift of it. After all, it’s a holy blessing from The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit!
In the pain and suffering, God has provided the silver lining: family, friends, fellowship, food, and… rest. I hoped for it… and it came… just when I needed it most! So as I heal, I continue to TRUST HIM, because hope in Jesus does NOT disappoint! “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Rom. 5:1-5 New International Version).
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13).
Spring is a time of joyful, new beginnings! I pray you know the truth; that our hope lies only in Jesus, so you can find healing, joy, and freedom in Christ! May you enjoy the warmth of the sun, the beauty of colorful flowers, the hugs from friends, and the joy of holding a soft, downy baby chick! May you receive Jesus, and have peace in knowing you have eternal life! AMEN!
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