“Things we lost to the flame
Things we’ll never see again
All that we’ve amassed
Sits before us, shattered into ash…”
Things We Lost in the Fire (Bastille)
As Esther Smith said in her excellent book, When Chronic Pain and Illness Take Everything Away, “Grief is the process by which we actively release all that we feel, question, and remember at the feet of God and the people He has placed in our lives.”
At the end of the second chapter, she poses some questions that have me wrestling with my thoughts, emotions, and feelings towards God. Questioning God isn’t a bad thing. In fact, He encourages us to come to Him with our questions, fears, or doubts. If you’ve ever read Psalms, you know this to be true!
As part of my grief process, I am going to share my answers to the questions, as you all are the people God has placed in my life. I assume the intention of that is to find help through grief from a different perspective than God’s.
What questions do you have for God?
- Why me?
- Did I do something to displease You?
- Is this going to be for all time before I die?
- Will anything else be added to my list of illnesses?
- Will I ever be a mother?
- Why can’t I seem to be able to write anymore?
- What is going on?!
- How can I glorify You through this mess?
What three emotions are you most aware of as you think of everything that chronic pain or illness has taken away? Describe what it is like to experience these emotions.
- Anger– When I get angry, I cry. I’ll clench my teeth as my nostrils flare and I’ll tighten my lips to try to keep it in. I feel a hot, burning sensation in the middle of my chest. Sometimes only a few tears will fall; other times the floodgates open and I’ll sob my heart out for what I’ve lost.
- Envy– I envy others in their comfortable, illness-free lives. I envy those who have had the ability to become mothers to beautiful children. Sometimes I’m ashamed when I feel like they don’t understand how good they have it. It makes me very green.
- Sadness– This is probably the most common emotion I feel. I mourn for the life I used to have. I think about things I used to be able to do and I’m filled with a deep sorrow that nobody else can comprehend. How would you feel if you lost almost everything you had going for you in your life? Your health, your job, your finances, etc. At least I still have my marriage and angel of a husband. Sometimes I just sit and stare at the wall and think of what used to be…and what could have been.
What memories most haunt you? Write out the events in your past that bring you to tears and doubt and confusion.
- The Grand Canyon trip. Even though it ended in injury for me, I had been fit and healthy before. That trip was the last time I ever did anything remotely athletic, four years ago. And having grown up an athlete, that’s hard to let go of. Especially since now that I have POTS, it’s highly unlikely I’ll ever be able to return to that degree of athleticism again.
- Having to stop dancing because of my knee injury. Why did God let my senior year, my last year, be clouded with pain and injury? I’d made it through 15 years of dancing with only relatively minor injuries: shin splints, lots of ankle sprains, and a really messed up Achilles. If only my knee could have held out for seven more months. It was supposed to have been the best of times…
- Our honeymoon. We were full of activity down in Hocking Hills. We went on numerous hikes down steep ledges and through caves and behind waterfalls. We went zip-lining, which was so exhilarating. It all held promise of what we hoped was to come in our marriage- hikes, adventures, and fun activities. Now I couldn’t do any of those things if I tried. Those days are long gone and I doubt they will ever come back. The most adventure I will likely get now will be David wheeling me around the block in my wheelchair. So adventurous. What happened to the old me? I want her back…
“I believe God says He is enough for us, even when all else has been taken away. I believe this. But most of the time, if I am being honest with myself, He doesn’t feel like enough. I’d like to have God and my health, God and my ability to move, God and my dreams for life. I have so far to go when it comes to living in light of God’s sufficiency, yet a part of me knows- in this truth we find our hope.” Esther Smith