Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Gift of Pain - Chapter 10

Last night I learned a lesson from a beagle. 

I couldn't sleep and lay in bed for hours before I finally decided to get up and read.  While I was sitting in the chair, our dog Casey came into the room and whimpered to be let out. 

Some time later I called to her to come back in.  Getting no response, I stepped outside and called again.  I called repeatedly and went to the side of the house where I discovered the gate was wide open.  I quickly threw on my shoes, grabbed my keys and headed out to find her, knowing her chances of survival through the night in our neighborhood were slim, with coyotes on the prowl. 

I cruised up and down the streets for over half an hour with visions of my twelve-year-old son's tearful face floating in my mind as I told him that his beloved dog was lost forever.  I finally returned home, discouraged and praying that someone would find her and call the phone number on her tag.  I trudged down the hallway heading to bed, but as I turned to enter our bedroom I heard the familiar tinkling of dog tags.  Turning my head I saw Casey look up at me from the end of Sam's bed where she had been calmly laying all along.  Apparently, I had been absorbed in my reading and hadn't noticed as she slipped back in the door.  I had seen the open gate and assumed the worst.

So, where does the lesson come in?

This little incident with our dog reminded me of the way I treat my relationship with God.  I am so absorbed with myself, with what I'm doing and with the busyness of life.  Finally, I take the time to stop and be with him.  If I don't find him exactly where I expect to see him, I wonder if he's gone.  I begin, in a panic to race around physically or mentally, when all I really need to do is "Be still and know that HE is God" (Ps. 46:10).

And to think, a sofa-scratching, hair-shedding beagle could be used to remind me of this.  Amazing.

Well, here we are at Chapter 10.    (For chapters 1-9 of My Story, The Gift of Pain, click on the link at right.)  When I started chronicling this, a few months ago, I expected this story would take two to three chapters and a couple of weeks to tell, but it has taken me more time and energy than I imagined.  I have had to dig deep into the past and recall times that I would just as soon forget.

"Why bother?"  You may ask.  In the words of the author Brennan Manning, "grace and healing are communicated through the vulnerability of men and women who have been fractured and heartbroken by life.  In Love's service, only wounded soldiers can serve."

I am simply a wounded soldier in the service of the One who first loved me.

This is this chapter where the cure is found, the problems are solved and everyone rides off into the sunset.  This story, however is real life -  my life.  Like I said from the beginning, there isn't a neat ending, in fact, there isn't really an ending.

I completed the pain management program and received so much incredible help and invaluable information.  I have been able to slowly wean myself off of all but the most basic of pain medications and for that I praise God.  That was an experience I do not want to revisit.

The fact remains that I am still dealing with chronic pain and the ongoing effects of my injury.  I have good days and bad days.  But, I'm glad to say, the good days outnumber the bad.  I am debating what steps to take next.  Having tried a myriad of treatments I'm not sure how to proceed and I'm hesitant to let them operate, since this injury was inflicted during surgery, so I'm moving cautiously and weighing my options.

I entitled my story The Gift of Pain.  There have been times, over these past several weeks when the use of this title seemed more like folly or hubris, but as I have come to the end of this story I realize that it is true - the pain that I have suffered has been a gift, and one that I would never wish to return.

These past several years have changed me forever.  My relationship with my husband has grown deeper.  I have developed a compassion for others that I never had before.  I have grown personally, emotionally and spiritually and continue to grow every day as I learn to "define myself radically as one beloved by God."

I conclude my story, for now, with these beautiful words by Brennan Manning in his book Abba's Child.

"there have been times...

when the felt presence of God was more real to me
than the chair I am sitting on;
     when the Word richocheted like broken-backed
lightning in every corner of my soul;
    when a storm of desire carried me to places I had
never visited.
    And there have been other times...
    when I identified with the words of Mae West: "I
used to be Snow White---but I drifted";
    when the Word was as stale as old ice cream and
as bland as tame sausage;
    when the fire in my belly flickered and died;
    when I mistook dried-up enthusiasm for gray-haired
    when I dismissed youthful idealism as mere
    when I preferred cheap slivers of glass to the pearl
of great price."

"The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it."
Matthew 13:45,46


  1. Beautiful...thank you for sharing your Gift.

  2. You are welcome, dear friend.

  3. Karen,

    I don't know even know what to say about what I experienced over the past two hours as I read your blog. Maybe its mixed feelings, sadness, joy, frustration, aching and perhaps hope.

    I have suffered so much in my life. There is no where to start or end for me as well. Over time I realized I know 2 things: 1. That there is a God. I will commune, love and attempt to continually desperately try to my ultimate best ability to understand who He is. 2. I know what suffering is (at the age of 23, but I could say that for practically every year I have lived).

    It was comforting how close you are to me, region wise. I am also from Orange County, Huntington Beach to be exact. I know this was written over a year ago, but old words seem to be the best words. My thoughts are all over the place, but I just delved into your life and I think it helped? I think it was what I needed? I think I am still emotionally distraught as I was before I read it (probably more...for good purposes - don't worry). I think I'm definitely still processing this information and my life right now. SO much of what you said resinated with me. I loved it. Best two hours.

    It was great learning about your character and slices of who you are. You are simply just great and I want to make you a pumpkin loaf or something in appreciation. I don't understand my life and God has been there, but....I don't know. Well, here are thoughts scrambled from the mind of - I don't know what I am. I know what I need, but I'm still looking for my needs to sink deep into my soul.


    Holly Geber

  4. Wow Holly!
    I don't know what to say.

    I read your comments over and over several times and they brought tears to my eyes. I am humbled that this would bring you some measure of comfort, no matter how small.

    I have thought, more than once, of deleting that whole series on pain. Just when I think I have come to a peace about it, I become overwhelmed by the circumstances of life. Pain is a strange and confusing thing, coloring every aspect of our lives.

    I am praying for you, Holly, that you would know release from your pain and even more than that, peace for your life.

    Thanks again for sharing,