Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Decision is Made

Those of you who know me well, will know that I have been contemplating hip replacement surgery for quite some time. This will be my second hip replacement. My right hip was replaced in 2003 and I am happy to say that it was successful.

Shortly after that surgery, however, my left hip began to deteriorate quickly due to the degenerative bone disease (avascular necrosis or AVN) that I have in my hip joints. I told myself after the last surgery that I would not wait too long for surgery next time. I felt putting off surgery had hindered my recovery because my muscles had weakened from disuse, caused by the pain of movement. While I don't feel I have waited too long, as I did last time, I do sense that I procrastinated longer than I should have.

Why did I wait so long? One word. Fear. The first surgery was tortuously painful. Way more frightful than I anticipated. I have lived with daily pain for many years. I have carried and given birth to four children (while in pain from the aforementioned AVN). I have received fillings without adequate amounts of Novocaine (that's a story for another time). I felt I was adequately prepared for a little post-op pain.

I wasn't expecting to wake up in the recovery room and truly understand the meaning of that 1-10 pain scale. If you think you have experienced a 10 while giving birth -- think again. This was worse. Much worse. It felt like this - the train not only ran over me, but sensing that he may have been mistaken, the conductor backed over me to make good and sure I was hit. It was abhorrent enough to give me a mental block against every going through it again.

Nevertheless, here I am, preparing to have the same operation once more. My doctor assures me that new pain blocking techniques have been established and it will be less distressing than my previous adventure. I certainly hope so.

I am also promised a shortened recovery period. After my surgery on November 4th (I'll vote early), I am ambitious enough to believe that after about six weeks of convalescence, I will be moving around easily. To be pain free after 14 years will be freedom, indeed.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Piglet's Got the Right Idea

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh!" he whispered. "Yes, Piglet?" "Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you." ~A.A. Milne

It is genuinely nice to have a friend like Piglet has in Pooh - you can breath a sign of relief just knowing they are near. It is also gratifying to be that kind of friend for someone else.

Problems can come in sometimes, however, if those around us view our relationship with our friend as exclusive. We may start to be perceived as a clique. How do we develop deep and lasting ties with people without appearing aloof?

At times, we have to be open to new people joining our circle. It may be hard. Being vulnerable to an unknown person opens up a lot of anxiety within us. This is when we (as Christians) must rely on our relationship with the Lord and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us. Our ability to be discerning is sometimes faulty. We tend to jump straight off the cliff into bad relationships while inadvertently snubbing a potential friend who has our best interest at heart. This is a time to be still and listen. It may seem enticing to be with a crowd that insinuates perfection and superiority; in the end we all know where this lands us.

The love and friendship that scripture demonstrates for us is the kind that binds us all together. We cannot be bound together separately. In groups where there is disunion, we should be doing everything within our power to unify. Polarization is not of God. It works against everything that Jesus stood for. We, as Christians, must work persistently to wipe out anything that separates us from the love of God that is in Christ. Since we all are part of the body of Christ, if we do not love each other, then we are separated from the love of God. Separation from God, for us, is a sin. So, to keep from sinning and being separate from our God, we must be inclusive of all.

This leads back to my first question - how can we develop deep bonds with a few while still maintaining inclusion for all? By our actions, of course. People can tell when we are genuinely welcoming to them. They know when they are wanted in the conversation. This is truly a situation where actions speak louder than words. Our actions will betray a closed heart, even if our mouths are professing openness. So, let your words be few and your conduct be guileless. Getting to know someone new takes time and effort on our parts.

Let us be influenced by the Holy Spirit in our social lives, as we are in our spiritual lives. It only makes sense that we would want to be led by God to form the bonds that he chooses for us. Not all friendship roots are going to run deep, but that doesn't mean that the impression that we leave on someone is not lasting. How much better is an admirable impression than a sub-standard one?

Hebrews 4:16

16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Colossians 3:12-14

12Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Good Versus Evil

Have you had those moments - days or weeks even, where you feel that those around you have let you down so profoundly that it hurts to breathe; but you know that breath - in and out, in and out, is really all you have?

I know the feeling of slogging through my days, not really living; just breathing to exist. Everything still gets accomplished. There really is no time for the luxury of a full-fledged break down. The zest however is not there. My heart is indeed not in it.

This week I have come to realize one thing for sure, (do I sound like Oprah, now?) and that is this - my feelings are as important as the feelings of everyone else. This may sound like a simple concept and maybe I am a late bloomer in coming to this realization, but the notion was totally foreign to me until recently. I am a product of a different generation. We were taught to always defer to others; otherwise you were being incredibly selfish. Couple this with the fact that I am a middle child whose main job growing up was keeping the peace and running interference and you can see that it didn't occur to me that my emotions might take precedent. To understand this insight is truly new to me.

Understanding the concept and putting it into practice are two different things, however. Those around me are used to my concessions to their feelings and not rocking the boat. When I suddenly stand up and say. "You know what, that's not okay." There are bound to be reverberations that are uncomfortably felt. Those close to me are wondering what the heck has gotten in to me and I am wondering if this new assertive behavior is worth the aftermath.

Such has been the case this past week - several times. I didn't hold back my sentiments when push came to shove. I didn't leave me with victorious feelings, though; it actually made me feel more desolate than before. Maybe there is a learning curve?

Throughout the week I had to learn to lean more heavily on my relationship with my Lord. I appreciate the fact that the comfort that I receive from him is perfect. In those hours when it hurt to breath, but I knew I must - He was there. He was there to pull me out of the trap that the enemy had set for me. It feels wonderful to have eluded the schemes of the one who yearns to bankrupt my self esteem.

I cannot believe that there is God without also knowing that there is Satan. Satan really does not want for me to make these advancements in my life and improve my feelings of self worth; then I can no longer live in fear. Fear is the number one area in which Satan gains leverage in my life. In everyone's life, in my opinion. So, the breakthrough begins with resisting the urge to say "Never mind, it's too painful - I'll just keep things the way they are" and pushing through to the other side of that misery where God is.

Then you can breathe - not just to exist, but to thrive and smell the sweet fragrance of victory. The triumph of good over evil; there is nothing more lovely.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (New International Version)

The God of All Comfort

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

Psalm 119:75-77 (New International Version)

75 I know, O LORD, that your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness you have afflicted me. 76 May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant. 77 Let your compassion come to me that I may live, for your law is my delight.

"What can we do but keep on breathing in and out, modest and willing, and in our places?" ~Mary Oliver