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There Are Lessons Learned From Every Trial and Tribulation
I’ve suffered with intermittent back pain for years. That is, until this year. This year, the pain became regular and increased in intensity. After one particularly wrenching relapse, I developed weakness and numbness in my left calf, ankle and foot. I decided it was high time to visit a specialist. The diagnosis was foot drop caused by a herniated disc that was pressing against a nerve root. The good news, the specialist thinks I can make a full recovery. The bad news, he suggested a microdisectomy – back surgery – as part of the recovery.
I am a wimp when it comes to medical procedures. By the grace of God, I have been a healthy person. The only chronic illness I have is allergies. Get me past the months of March and April and even that is history. As I contemplated my next steps, I thought, “Why do I have to go through this?” In the grand scheme of things, this condition, although painful, is minor in comparison to those who live with serious illnesses. I, in my mini pity party, mean no disrespect. My question is more spiritual than selfish. What lessons am I to learn from this experience?
I’ve often thought of myself as a compassionate person, but my compassion had it limits. Last year, I watched a co-worker limp to and from the break room. Heel spurs, she said. At first, I empathized with her and her condition. Poor thing, I thought. Soon, however, my compassion turned a bit cold. It seemed to me she reveled in the attention. I’ve never been one for “dramatics”, the sad face and demeanor when something is wrong. I am a keep-your-chin-up type of person.
Recently, as I was walking slower than usual due to my condition, I met the co-worker. She was walking slowly as well. Something wrong with my knee, she said. Instead of offering a half-meant, “Hope you feel better,” and moving right along, I stopped and talked with her. Really talked. I advised her not to wait too long before visiting her physician. My empathy had taken on a deeper element because, this time, it was also steeped with experience. I know it’s no fun living with pain.
I used a cane for the first several days of living with foot drop. The extra support gave me more confidence when walking. Sometimes, it was not easy making it up steps or even getting my footing. I felt like a hindrance to those walking behind me. And, surprisingly, many of them made sure I felt that way. There were some sighs, several became fed up and buzzed right past me. I became up close and personal with closed front and elevator doors. No one wanted to be late clocking in to work, so I understood. Regrettably, I had done the same thing to others. It stung to be on the receiving end.
Thankfully, just as many people exhibited kindness. My co-workers took the time to wait for me and walk me outside to my car. They made sure I was OK. They engaged me in playful banter to take my mind off the pain. Some workers who I had not previously interacted with made my acquaintance and offered friendly smiles and encouraging words.
Most importantly, I have yet another testimony for the power of prayer. By praying, I become closer to God. I called upon Him during my times of pain and thanked Him for bringing me relief. I confess to Him my sins and my fears and, through His Word, I find peace. I am still nervous about the prospect of surgery, but I place my trust in the Lord that everything works according to His will.
From this experience, I know that compassion should come from the heart and not be shown to prevent a guilty conscience. I know that it doesn’t hurt to extend kindness to a stranger and if that stranger takes my kindness for weakness, then shame on him or her, not me. There are also times I have to accept kindness and push pride aside. And, I know through all my trials, the Lord is with me.
He is with you, too. Invite Him into your life.