Finding beauty in brokenness is something we all desire — a way to find meaning and eventually graceful acceptance for whatever damage has been done to us. When it isn’t forthcoming it tends to create confusion, more pain, even bitterness. I see many people shake their fists heavenward and blame God for their suffering, asking why God chose them to bear particular burdens.
Like everyone else in the world I’ve survived my share of pain, even a few atrocities. I buried my first husband when I was 21, bore his child four days later, spent 16 years in an abusive marriage while at the same time being isolated from my family, I’ve come close to dying, survived illness, and now I’m living with a debilitating, incurable disease. Yes, there’s more, but who needs to know it? I’m not here to compare my pain to yours, just to help you grasp that yes, I’ve known suffering.
I’ll be honest with you, I’m tired of hearing people tell me that there was a reason God chose me to bear the pain and frustration of this disease. I’m really past having patience with anyone who tries to tell me God only gives me what I can handle, so it just shows that I’m one of the strong ones. If that were the case, then at any time I could just choose not to be strong then, right? That’s not going to stop this disease.
I suppose people blame God for the bad things that happen because they need someone to be angry with. It’s how they make sense of their problems. God did this to me. WHY, God?
I’m not one to believe God does things to us. My reasoning is simple: waaaaaaay back at the beginning Adam and Eve decided they wanted to make their own choices and God gave them free will. Along with that came an imperfect world full of disease, decay, and ruin. This was never something God chose for us, even back then — it was something man chose as God looked on with a grieving heart, knowing there would be consequences with the ‘freedom’ Adam and Eve chose.
Bad things — death, disease, even the weeds in our gardens, came about from man’s choice — not from God’s.
So what about the people who say it’s still God’s fault because He could stop the bad things? He could have stopped a miscarriage, a murder, a death from cancer, a rape, a child abduction. I’m not telling you He couldn’t stop anything, but why do we think He would? God is a God who is unchanging. He doesn’t give His word — make a covenant — and then welsh on a promise. He doesn’t alter who He is because the times have changed. He is the one constant this world has ever known.
I said this a few months ago to a man who blamed God for not stopping the sexual abuse to young boys in the Catholic church. After his bitter and angry tirade about detesting God because He didn’t intervene, I asked him what free will really was if God stepped in and took free will away from people who chose to use it poorly.
Like it or not, when Adam and Eve chose free will, they chose the good and the bad of it. God warned them that it wasn’t at all like they were being led to believe, but they thought they knew better. So here we are suffering the consequences of the choices made thousands of years ago by humans, yet we have the gall to blame a God who knows nothing but love for us.
It sucks to slowly lose my autonomy at the hands of a disease with no cause and no cure. Honestly, suffering in any fashion sucks. Let’s not try to make it sound heroic or as if we are supposed to feel honored we were chosen.
God didn’t choose diffuse idiopthic skeletal hyperostosis for me because I earned it or because I’m strong or because I could be an example or because I was bad. He didn’t choose it for me at all, but He does give me the strength to endure, especially on the days I tell Him I can’t do it anymore. He’s promised to not just be by my side, but to go before me in battle, to surround me, and to cover my backside all the while providing whatever I need to keep at it. As I feel the disease begin to compress my spinal cord and the reality of losing the ability to walk overcomes me, I know that my constant and unchanging God will be beside me, surrounding me, providing for me, and cheering me on.
I’m thankful for this knowledge because I already know I can’t count on people all of the time — we all grow weary of dealing with chronic pain. My loved ones have times they don’t want to deal with my disease and I understand it and I know during those times God’s got me.
I’m not okay with having this disease. I haven’t reached that stage and I don’t know that I ever will. To me, accepting means giving in. I fight to continue to do everything I’ve always done to one degree or another. I’m not ready for canes or scooters or assistance other than the gentle arm of my Atticus to steady me as I stagger my way along.
I don’t see beauty in the disease, but I see beauty in others as they assist me or just lend a sympathetic ear. I see beauty in the women I know who take time to help me figure out whether an assistance animal would benefit me. I don’t feel beautiful inside right now because I’m angry at the disease, I’m frustrated at my limitations, and I’m always in pain.
Here’s the thing, though. It’s up to me to find that beauty. When I look back on all of the pain and suffering I’ve experienced, I recognize that it was how I learned to see each heartache, each betrayal, each torment that helped me find the beauty in those situations. When I’m ready I know I’ll find it here in this disease.
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