Learning the unforced rhythms of grace


Flip Flops and Surgery


Last summer, while visiting family in Vancouver, I walked an hour to the mall in my flip flops. I loved my flip flops. They cost about $10 and I loved them. To me, they were not only comfy but symbolized what summer should be . . . relaxed and carefree.

By the time I got to the mall, my feet were aching, my legs were sore and I felt like turning around and going straight home. I wanted so badly to take the afternoon to wander around and take some much desired time to be alone. So, I went into a shoestore and found the most comfortable looking sandal I could find and bought them right there, full price, much more than my flip-flops. My pain disappeared and the afternoon opened up generously in front of me. I could now stay.

There are many things, like flip-flops, that I like the idea of. I want them to work. They symbolize something and I don't want to throw them out. 

For the past three months, I've struggled with a new and distinct pain on my abdomen's left side. It has been constant and local and with very little relief. Many doctor appointments and scans and scopes were leaning toward the direction that perhaps an investigative surgery was next on the agenda and it offered hope of discovering the cause and finding a remedy. A surgeon consult was booked. I liked this idea. It could mean that pain would be relieved. Sounded like a quick fix. Perhaps I could eat solid food again. Maybe I could become more active and do more things. I began to enjoy this 'idea' quite a bit and began to count the days until the consult. 

Last week, I met with the surgeon and surgery was denied. It was suggested that surgery would only increase my problems and that a different approach must be taken.

I was deeply disappointed and the tears burst out of me in the doctors office. I wanted so badly for this idea to work. I liked the idea of surgery so that all that was wrong on the inside could become visible. It's been 13 years since my last surgery and so I was sure they would be able to find something distinct they could remove or zap or unwind.  But the idea was not right. It didn't matter how fond I was of it, or how I thought it might have been right, it wasn't. The doctors chose a more suitable 'shoe' for me. It seemed to cost more emotionally and mentally.  It involves pain management, new medications, a slow and painful process of reintroducing solid food again to my diet and more doctor appointments and follow ups. It offered hope of improvement but not total change. I was SO ready for drastic, dramatic, total and complete change.

 I feel sad and weary.

That day, I went in my room and had a good cry and spent some time in prayer. I went to my favorite 'prayer place' with Jesus.

This is what I do, I imagine climbing up a hill and seeing Jesus sitting down on the edge of a hill, kinda swinging his legs and chillin. I sit down with him and he smiles and nods at me, then turns back to look down on the city. We don't talk alot, cause he just knows everything about me and I don't have to explain anything. I like that. I look over at his hands and feet and see the holes . . .  that's how I know he understands pain . . .This time, I lean in, pretty tired and put my head on his shoulder. I start to cry and he lets me. I settle down after awhile and then asked him, "Was it ever too much for you, the suffering?" and I expected him to say something valiant . . . But instead, he said, "ya. it was actually. it killed me." and I leaned back a bit to look at him and catch the meaning of what he was saying. I look at his hands and feet and see the holes . . . I look up and see that he's looking at me. He knows, he understands how weary I am of all this pain. "But," he said with a determined look, kind, and determined . . . " I conquered it, pain, suffering, death . . . and now here I am with you, and all my power is for you, for your life." He let the words sink in and put his arm around me and pulled me in tight . . . "So, when you're ready, we've got stuff to do, and its going to be good."

I'm holding to that truth. Jesus has experienced it all. He understands it all . . . and He hasn't stopped accomplishing His purposes. Pain doesn't win. Suffering doesn't win. Death doesn't win. Jesus does. 

So, am I throwing my flip flops out? No, I still love them. I am willing, however, to surrender my idea that they are right for all situations. Does Jesus scold me for arriving at the mall with tired feet or getting my hopes up for a particular method of medical treatment? Nope. He loves me. He comforts me and understands hope and disappointment. His power is for me. He is for me. That's gotta be enough. . . don't you think?

I'm counting on it.