Recently, or I guess over the past few months or 18 months, as most of you reading this probably know from other blog posts and my Instagram page, I have had a lot of challenges both big and small thrown my way -- starting college, struggling academically through college causing me to change my major from dietetics to something that really didn't light my fire anymore like nutrition does, relationships new and old, drama and frustration and big changes with extracurricular groups, deciding to go back to majoring in dietetics to give it another go next semester, trying to find a church and new friends, mental/emotional/spiritual challenges, and then there's the biggie... having mysterious, frustrating hip and adductor (deep inner thigh/groin) pain causing inability to participate in any of my favorite fitness activities anymore that I had a passion for (especially running) which then leaded to getting hip surgery Fall 2016 to STILL not being healed of my original pains that leave me unable physically to do so much -- so much that I once loved and got to pour myself into to destress and to stay fit and physically strong and healthy.
That ability to do activities freely, pain-free, easily, without-a-second-thought is gone -- at least for the time being, but I don't see any end in sight at the moment. It could change. My body's physical pain could heal eventually. Or it could stay this way. I really don't know.
My mind has been dealing with a mental battle everyday for quite some time dealing with all of this. Most recently while on Christmas break, I've just been thinking more and more about what's happening with this long suffering with my hip and groin and adductor issues.
What is God doing in me or for me with this physical debilitation?
Is it for my protection?
Is he transforming me or renewing me?
Is he preparing me for something?
What is his purpose in this long suffering?
I know God isn't like karma who throws something hard at his people when they mess up or are dealing with certain sins. But I do believe God can throw a curveball in his people's lives to reveal himself or to pull them closer to him or to just teach them some type of lesson. What is it this time? God, what are you doing here?
My physical pain I've dealt with for quite a while has produced in me: anxiety, fear, worsening body image, frustration, more pain, worry, doubt, hopelessness, more struggles with comparison, jealousy, impatience, and tears.
But flipping the coin, as I look back, whether that’s to yesterday or to 3 months ago or to a year, can I see any good in this suffering? --> What went on in my mind when I asked this question: "Yes there's GOT to be some good things throughout all of this suffering that my mind just really likes to overlook...Janie, think think think...what could those things be? Anything at all. Write them down. Make a list even if it's just a couple things. Think."
- Greater understanding and empathy for the crippled or people who live in chronic physical pain
- Stronger drive to fight hard (some days I guess...other times it’s reeeal hard to fight all the crazy mental battles that pop up!)
- Deeper understanding and realization that to move is ABSOLUTELY a gift that cannot and should not be taken for granted — that includes being able to walk, to run, and just to workout in any and every single way. (Side note: Honestly, it pains me to see it being taken advantage of, especially in the Instagram world of foodies and fitness, but I know and understand that not everyone has had it taken away to even realize that to move is truly a gift. And just bein' real with you peeps, I will throw out there that I have been on either side of the spectrum -- from completely abusing exercise and hurting my body when I was very underweight and dealing with an eating disorder and not using physical activity in the way it should be used to take care of my body. I overexercised, I underate, I took exercise of all sorts for granted. But most recently, I've been on the complete other side of the spectrum literally just learning to walk again. Unable to do anything easily. Being in pain when I move and having to be so incredibly intentional and sensitive about even the TINIEST move I now make. It's crazy what all I now have to think about that most people do not have to do! And still, after a surgery I don't know if I'll be pain-free and able be active like I would love). To move is a gift.
- Learning to rely not on something tangible and short-lasting and only temporarily fulfilling to me (exercise and endorphins and the gym as an outlet) but on WHO — the one who is lasting, intangible, unseen, faithful, loving, all-knowing, all-powerful who will bring everlasting fulfillment one day.
"Okay, good job self! You made your little list. You can come back to it later to add some more because surely there are some more learning lessons that are coming out of this physical suffering turned mental-battle-suffering that may just be slipping the mind right now. ...But okay, now what?"
As I sit in St. Louis Bread Co (none of that Panera talk lol) after my chemistry tutoring at 8 a.m. (hello sleepiness zzzzz...) just two days after Christmas, another question pops into my mind. A biggie. Hence my "Boom" above. This question is not as easy to answer as I once would think. But a vital question or questions nonetheless. (beware of possible run-on sentences...we'll see.)
"Am I willing to give up my physical comfort and my interest and love for fitness and being able to be active and move freely (yadda yadda yadda) for something or I should say someOne that will ultimately fill me completely, who will love me completely — my raggamuffin-self and all, who died for ME to offer me this free relationship with him, who he himself gives true freedom, who lives in me and I in him, who is ready with open arms for me to run to him when I mess up and am on my last strands and when I feel like I’ve got nothing left? Am I willing to live boldly and unashamedly for Christ at the expense of dealing with physical suffering and pain? Am i willing to deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Jesus even if that means giving up so much -- comfort, maybe people's approval, things that I love, etc.?
"Am I willing to give up something I love and suffer with the knowledge going into it that I will without a doubt be transformed by God and be made into something more beautiful, more deeply rooted in God and his truths of the gospel, and knowing that this earthly, painful, and very uncomfortable physical suffering will be used for God's kingdom purposes even though I may not know or see what he's doing through me or through it?
Would you REALLY though?
That doesn't sound like a good fun earthly life. I mean, real lasting physical pain and difficult mental battles every day?
Is it worth it? Is following Jesus worth everything in my life?
Is following Jesus worth everything in your life?
"In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood." - Hebrews 12:14
And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." - Mark 8:34
Well, I want to say yes. I want to live out my yes answer.
God, please lead me and help me do this. Guide me into living out my "yes." I can't believe I'm writing this, but God renew my heart and transform me daily to be willing to give up anything for you, no matter the cost and suffering. Dang... I need you God, and I already know I need your strength to face every single day and mental battle. I need you because I'm I already know I'm going to falter. But you are everything. Be my everything. God please.