Surgery Without Lidocaine

A year and a half ago, when I had my arm sliced and diced to get rid of some scary looking cells, I yelled loudly when the doctor made a cut.

“You can feel that??” he looked at me with panicked eyes.

“YES!!!” I shouted back.

He grabbed a needle full of lidocaine and jammed it into my skin, immediately numbing any and all sensation. I felt instant relief and made the terrible decision to peer over the surgical drape and look at what was happening. Bad idea.

After he cut out anything suspect and stitched me up, he wrapped my arm in a bandage and warned me I’d feel significantly more pain than the same procedure on my leg from the week before. My arm was still numb so I brushed off his concerns but accepted the prescription for a few vicoden.

Slowly but surely, the lidocaine wore off and I started to feel blinding pain. I tried to distract myself and power through but the intensity grew with each passing hour. Eventually I couldn’t even pick my food up with my right hand because my arm hurt so badly.

The only thing I could think about was that I would never not feel pain in my arm again.

But as it does, the wound healed. It took time and was sensitive and pink and angry and a deformed scar built up which my doctor had to fix. I see that scar every day. Sometimes running my finger over it lightly, to remember all it represented. Sometimes not even seeing it though I’m staring straight at it.

And just like with my body, I had forgotten the numbness after emotional trauma wears off. That first slice is searing and you yell out for it to stop. Your heart and mind take over and inject their own form of lidocaine to keep you from pain. The evidence of the wound are there but you can detach. You can examine it for the bloody mess it is but not feel the depth of it because you’re numb.

But then the pain of loss and confusion and hurt set in. They creep into the hole in my heart and start to wake it up. They scream to be acknowledged and validated and given their time. It makes my brain fuzzy and the truth less clear. It distorts the words and memories and puts them in a wrong place. It disorients me.

As the pain grows and the lidocaine wears off, I start to think the pain will consume and remain and never leave. I start to think it will always be this way and always hurt. I try to find more lidocaine, more things to numb and cope. But what I forget is that just like my little pink scar, the wound will close, it won’t hurt to touch, and my brain will clear. I’ll be able to lift my hands to dance around in the sunlight.

I’ve decided to stop searching for more lidocaine because now I can remember that I’m strong enough to mend again. And if I keep myself numb I might never remember what it’s like to be whole.

 

Airport breakdowns 

I slipped on my shoes and went running towards the gate. My first attempt was 4 gates too early so I kept going, sweaty, with the lump in my throat growing. 

The yellow “boarding” sign was flashing on the screen. With desperation in my eyes I asked if there was any way I could get on the earlier flight. I was politely turned down for any flights before my scheduled one, an hour away. 

I turned around, disoriented and distracted, and started looking for some anchoring point. The lump in my throat was growing larger with each passing second threatening to choke the life out of me. 

I remembered seeing a sign for a chapel so I wandered that way. I was a mess, tear-filled eyes, splotchy cheeks, and shuffling feet. Eventually I found the elevator to the chapel. I walked in and found it blissfully empty. 

I collapsed into a chair and my sobs became audible. Tears streaming down my face, my shoulders heaved and I could feel my body shaking. 

I hadn’t been expecting it but I wasn’t entirely surprised. 

The ending was kind, full of hard things and confusing words and missteps and right steps and quiet words and tears. It wasn’t dramatic though it was filled with emotion. 

There are no good reasons and things to pin it down on. Only a feeling that this was the end. I warred with myself — fighting to hear Papa and exit gracefully. At one point I heard the Holy Spirit whisper okay, say okay and then trust me. Lean into me. 

Soon after I said those words and found myself fighting to open the car door. It never gets any easier to see someone for the last time and know it is the last time. It never gets any easier to desperately want to be anywhere but there and yet not want to be anywhere else. It never gets easier to utter final sentiments and sayings and choose your very last words. Knowing what will echo in his mind and yours. 

I stopped to call my mom outside the house before I went in. I cried into the phone and heard her sadness for me too. We spoke briefly and then I walked into the home of the woman who has known me longer than almost anyone. She called my name in greeting and I struggled to say hello. 

When she peeked at my face it told her everything she needed to know. She walked down the stairs and wrapped her arms around me. Holding me as sobs wracked my body. Her husband followed suit and pulled me into a deep hug as I shook. Eventually we managed to sit down on the couch and I tried to piece together what had just happened.

Silence and questions and answers and more silence. 

I wept more and more, a deep well of sorrow I forgot existed. 

With swollen eyes and an invitation to call to them for anything I needed that night, I took some sleeping medicine and cried myself to sleep. 

Morning didn’t bring the wave of grief I expected. There was something about my dreams and my sleep that knew I was grieving. My heart protected me from the unexpected allowing me to wake in aching pain without the initial onslaught of sorrow. 

All day I cried off and on. Being given the space to talk or not talk, meanwhile the expected torrent of text messages and phone calls and any other form of communication invaded my phone. I’ve learned enough in this past year to know I can answer or not answer in whatever time I need and it’s absolutely okay. 

Sunday passed in a blur, only knowing I was safe and cared for and protected. Monday brought a gentle invitation to go see the family who has known me since I was a tiny little girl. That time was full of sweetness and prayer and blessings. Hope and healing and space to be exactly where I needed to. 

As we left and headed to the airport I felt the apprehension mounting. The memories of the last time I departed that building. Of being on the phone getting ready to fly to Denver, floating on a cloud and my cheeks hurting from smiling. 

I thought about 3 days previous when I arrived after a hellish journey to get there but knowing I was about to see a man I cared for deeply. 

So as I sat in that chapel I wept. I wept loudly and ugly and deeply. I wept from the pit of sorrow. I wept from the pit of disappointment. I wept from the pit of trust. I opened my hands and told my Papa it was all His and I am all His and I believed He is good and I am loved. 

I asked Him to put the blanket of love I had felt the past 48 hours around me to not feel so alone. I felt His strong arms wrap me completely and I heard Him to tell me to look around and see how not alone I was. 

Through blurry eyes a once dark room filled with faces. Familiar faces. 

I looked at empty chairs and I saw you my friends. I saw you sitting in those seats, petitioning Papa. I smelled the aroma of Christ as I wept in the corner. I felt your strength giving me what I needed to stand up. I heard you crying out on my behalf, words of love and trust and hope. 

I wept harder as the chorus of the saints claimed truth for me when I haven’t been able to claim it for myself. 

You were there with me my friends. You have gone with me as I sit on the plane and let tears stream down my face. I feel you in front of me, to my right and left, above and below, and behind me. 

My heart may be broken but it’s broken in the safety of a tribe who cover me night and day to keep the enemy at bay while Papa gets to tend to my heart. 

Thank you for standing around me and with me and fighting for me. 

He is good and I am loved. 

When You Love the Right Things Wrongly

There was a moment a year ago when I was seriously convinced I would never feel anything but pain. Deep, cutting, all consuming pain.

I heard all of the words and sentiments and prayers but my raw soul couldn’t absorb anything.

As you all have journeyed with me we’ve seen the Lord reveal bits and pieces of why this season occurred. He’s given me the parts of the puzzle in His timing. Always gentle and kind. Always good. Sometimes calling me to repentance, sometimes calling me into healing, always calling me to Himself.

My personality is the kind where I analyze and examine and poke around a situation until I understand it. I have to understand it in order to let it go. Which may be part of why this process took so long. Because I didn’t understand. Part of my journey has been to let go of my need to understand and trust.

But because my Papa is infinitely good, He gave me the final piece of the puzzle. On the one year anniversary of the worst Sunday of my life.

My whole life I’ve longed to be married. As a girl I longed for a wedding, as a teenager and a college student I longed for a boyfriend, as a young adult I longed for a husband. The depth of longing ebbed and flowed in every season and year. Sometimes unbearably strong and sometimes just a dull ache in the back of my heart.

18 months ago it became suffocating. It became all consuming. I was angry at the intensity of it. It felt cruel to desire something so much and have it be so unfulfilled.

I didn’t know it at the time but I was starting the process of turning inward and downward. A spiral of sin. The thing I desired was good. It was a right desire. But I desired it wrongly.

And then as you all know, he came into my life. Frankly I’m tired of telling the story of him so if you’d like to read more, go here, here, and here.

But, he showed up and instantly my heart shifted. It felt like it had been given a drink of water after being in the desert for years. So I gulped it up and just like anyone knows, if you drink TOO much water when you haven’t had any, you get sick.

Throughout our entire relationship there were very distinct moments when I turned inward and downward and kept going. I was loving the right thing wrongly. I was telling a finite thing it had to satisfy infinite longings.

Something I’ve not shared much is what happened 12 days before the very last day.

Our relationship was frantic and dramatic and passionate and intense. I spent more nights crying in my bed than I ever expected to throughout the entire time we were dating. Which… probably should have been a clear indication it wasn’t a healthy relationship, but I digress.

The first day of July I decided to spend more time praying for him, and for me, and for us. Friends had voiced a few concerns about how volatile our relationship was and how I didn’t seem totally like myself. I took it to heart and took it to Jesus.

I genuinely asked the Lord for His best. I asked Him to make us better for the Kingdom, I asked Him for His will. I asked for more of Him. Not once thinking it might mean the end of the finite thing I expected to be my infinite fulfillment.

So 12 days later when my finite thing was taken, it was devastating.

I had been making all these choices to love the right things wrongly and I was dangerously close to being given the thing I ultimately wanted to love the most — myself.

But Papa, in His sweetness and goodness and mercy decided to stop my inward and downward spiral. When I cried out for more of Him and less of me, He heard me. I fully believe the Spirit interceded on my behalf and asked for the thing I didn’t know I needed nor would I have ever chosen but I am so glad was given to me.

Today I realized this past year, to the very day, has been about re-ordering my love. It’s been a slow deconstruction of loving the right things wrongly and a reorientation to love the right things rightly. Without expectation for them to fulfill my infinite desires, without making them the centering force my life spins around, without seeing it as the end goal. Rejoicing in the goodness of the desire but repenting of the wrongness of the worship I gave it.

But my friends, do you see it?? Do you see the overwhelming LOVE the Father has for me? To take my inward and downward worship and stop me from ultimately getting myself? So this year has been about LOVE. All consuming, beautiful, glorious love.

And with that, I think the last few words of the chapter of him have been written. I will always be grateful Papa used him to pull me deep into His heart but the story of us is an ever fading memory which I’m glad to tuck away and move forward with longing and expectation and hope and love.

 

*shoutout to Glenn Packiam for giving language to the puzzle pieces Jesus has been showing my heart for a year! 

 

351 days

It has been 351 days since I watched the man I thought I loved walk out of my room for the last time.

351 days.

351 sunrises and sunsets.

351 twenty-four hour periods.

351 times I’ve caught myself wondering if it was real life.

I’ve been quiet these last 8 weeks. Really quiet. Intentionally so. Because well, you know, I started dating someone new. And I’ve been so terrified it will end and I will have to relive the pain both in real life and in my social world that I just sort of shut it down.

So I went dark. Because the echoes of 351 days ago still haunt me.

He doesn’t haunt me.

But the pain haunts me.

The funny thing about love is that it can’t fit into a box. Just because I don’t want him or us or the girl I was doesn’t mean it doesn’t try to creep into my moments. My life. My dreams. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t whisper on the edges of my days and try to take me prisoner, promising to keep me safe.

I always thought love to be more black and white.

You’re in love or out of love. You want someone or you don’t want someone. You fight for it or you walk away. But what I’ve come to find is that you don’t necessarily come out of love or back it into. It’s more vivid colors than one or the other. You fight for yourself and walk away from the lies. It’s all of the things and none of the things.

It matters but it doesn’t.

There are pieces of the past that find their way into my new relationship. We brush up against them when I withdraw or shut down or get upset. He carefully walks around fighting to find me and not the landmines waiting to go off. And I do the same. Watching for the wounds from his past, expectations that might be unclear and unexpressed.

I’ve found the fear of falling in love again to be paralyzing. He asks me to trust him. Something I would have done without reservation 351 days ago. And yet in the quiet moments my chest gets tight. I start to think about the nights I sobbed in my bed, alone, with pain beyond anything I had ever experienced before.

I wrestle through choosing to trust. To not hold the sins of another against him. Because he has consistently been different. He has consistently been trustworthy. He has consistently shown up. He has consistently sought Papa. He has consistently fought to choose Papa instead of himself.

So we look to Him. We choose Him. We fight to find Him so we can find each other.

Slowly but surely I see He’s taking the in-love’s and out-of-love’s, the full spectrum of colors, the fight and defeat, the fear and past, and He’s turning a fractured mess into a reflection of His beauty.

And I start to realize that 351 days is enough time. 351 days is 350 too many to let my heart stay captive. It’s time to sing my fight song. It’s time to break off the remaining pieces, step out of my shell, the shadow of what was, and trust. It’s time to uncurl my fist and let the world see what a mending broken heart looks like, what it feels like, what it’s capable of.

Because my mending broken heart is now capable of loving so much more than it ever was before it shattered. And that will always be worth the shattering process.