Learning the unforced rhythms of grace


What Have I Done Today?


I serve on the board of our church and at the end of every meeting we ask ourselves a series of questions . . .

One of the questions is "Did the church move forward as a result of this meeting?"

I love that question!

If we answered yes, then it meant we stayed focused on priorities and if we answered no, it means we got sidetracked somewhere in the nitty-gritty that was either about the past or something not beneficial.

I've been thinking about that a lot lately.

Today marks the 4th week of dental issues for me. It started with a tiny moment while flossing my back molar where the cracked tooth that has been cracked for a long time started to lift up as I flossed. Hmm, I thought,  probably should get that checked out. It turned into the need for two teeth to get crowns put on . . . which turned into an infection a few days later . . . which landed on the Canada Day long weekend when all dentists and medi-centers and doctors were closed and the pain was excruciating! When I finally got in and was put on antibiotics and pain killers, I was able to recover and then three more dentist appointments, refills on drugs and a root canal - first part done and second part still to come.  All that to say, my mind has been occupied with pain and the relief of pain. 

I asked myself today, "What have I done?" I mean, what have I done with all that time? (Please know that I am completely kind to myself to understand that coping takes energy and I believe it's okay to cope–absolutely). But in light of the fact that it has been four weeks and thinking about that question that we ask ourselves as a board, I want to ask myself a similar question for my personal life. 

Two weeks from now, just a few days after part-two of root canal is completed, I'm scheduled to speak at a conference luncheon for about 200 women. The topic is on how we are shaped by God. I'll be telling my own story of living with chronic pain of Endometriosis and the past 24 years of pain. Funny isn't it?

I know THAT story really well. I can tell all the highlights, the lessons I've learned and the ways that God has renewed my mind and given me a new perspective on life. I've told that story many times.

But that story is worth nothing, if right now, at 12:15am, as I write this, and as I wait for the pain killers to start working, with an ice pack beside me that I occasionally hold up to my face . . . if I am not trusting Jesus with THIS pain, then my other story is worthless. 

Right now, in this moment, Jesus asks me to trust him.

He holds my face with his hands and looks me in the eyes and asks, "Heather, do you trust me? Do you trust that these past four weeks of cancelled plans and hours with your mouth open in the dentist's office and waiting in pharmacies and getting up at night to replenish your cold packs is still within my plans for you? Do you trust that I'm doing something? Will you trust me if the purpose is never revealed?" 

Having lived with chronic pain for most of my life, I've 'matured' in my understanding of what pain relief means. I've gained endurance and patience and some skills to live with pain . . . but all that was tested in a fresh way these past weeks and I found myself just wanting it all to be finished, fixed and done. 

So I find it FASCINATING that today, I got a refill on my pain meds and am instructed to finish my antibiotics for a few more weeks until my root canal (part two) is done and then . . . a few days later, will stand on a stage with a podium and microphone and talk about God's love in the midst of pain. This event was booked almost a full year ago and yet, here we are. 

This is not an interruption. These have not been wasted weeks. I may not have always been paying attention, but Jesus has been with me, day and night, speaking words of love to me . . . if I was listening. And so, I listen now, with a quieted heart, that what He is preparing to do through my life is something that I can't even comprehend. It is God's action, His initiative, and His love that He wants to share with the world and these particular 200 women through my particular swollen and aching mouth. 

I'm intrigued and curious at the timing of it all.