I spent the morning flat on my back in my bed, pain radiating from hip to shoulder and every movement worsened by the limbs of a small child pressed into my ribs. He had crept in sometime in the early morning hours when the world was still tucked gently under darkness like a warm comforter. I don’t know if it was a nightmare that spooked him but I lifted the blanket like an invitation and he scampered up my side and nestled in.
Around 3 am, I heard the moaning, that deep guttural pain that comes when insides are not working as they should. My girl came in with her hands pressed to her guts like she could absorb the pain into her palms, extract it like poison and offer it to me to take from her. Oh how I would if I could.
But we don’t know why she keeps getting this stomach pain. Old diagnosis’s and remedies aren’t helping. On Friday we’ll go back to the doctor and hope for better answers. For now, we’re a week in with hives and itching and stomach aches that stretch through the night as she curls into herself and there is no remedy but enduring.
And some days are just this. There is no remedy but enduring. No shortcut or easy fix. Sometimes, you’re pulling groceries from the car and you hit an icy spot and you know you’re going to hit the ground so hard but you don’t and just when you’re about to whisper thanks, you feel it. That shock of pain like friction along the wires of your nerves and you know you’re gonna hurt after all. No broken bones or casts but the inside stuff, the pain no one can see. The pain that’s hard to explain.
Sometimes, that’s the worst kind, the invisible burden of pain, because it hurts to explain again and again how you hurt and why. It’s easier to just pretend sometimes, isn’t it? I wonder how many of us do.
How many of us just hobble along with our nerves burning holes in our bodies, with our minds a hive of stinging pests, and with our souls dragging behind us like a weary rag, worn out from too much wear?
How many of us want to live with great expectations but find we settle for enduring because it’s the only choice we have?
Maybe it’s because I pulled out my back when I had such a wide hope for this month and had dusted off my spin bike and was just getting it broken in again. For a moment I recalled the girl whose body didn’t feel like a trap, whose mind didn’t feel like a tangle of webs and who believed this is what it must feel like to be normal and no wonder normal people can get so much done! And when my muscles ached those first few weeks back on the bike, it felt good and right to hurt. It didn’t feel like a burden of pain, but a gift of promise.
Maybe it’s that I’ve been feeling so much better, had more energy, and started dreaming again. But even when I dream a bit, I’m tethered to the intersection of brokenness of this world, to the brokenness in me. And I am never the remedy for that.
Maybe some days there is no remedy but enduring. Maybe self care on these days is relenting to the great waves of things undone, to the hollow of disruption, and to the disappointment of open ends. And for this burden of pain, both the seen and unseen things, I can only pray for abundance in my lack, for the holy to enter my broken, and for the strength to rest here without excuses, living into grace.
So for those of you who are there with me today, on those days that are soul weary, would you pray with me?
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.- Matthew 11:28-30 The Message (MSG)