Even if we do not know where we are going to end up, God does. Often when something doesn’t work out the way we wanted it or even at all, it’s because God has something better in mind.
After I graduated college, the back pain began. Subtle at first, when I walked a distance, I would feel an awful twinge in my lower back – then in my left leg, and then finally in my right leg. Pain spreading. I knew what it was, but I was in denial. No, I did not want another back surgery. But I was just putting off the inevitable. Sometimes the pain got so bad that I’d just collapse on the floor where I was and sob. I wasn’t strong enough to deal with physical pain when life was already so hard for me. I didn’t want it, so I cried out to God to take it away. I went to my back surgeon and told him I couldn’t take it anymore. X-rays showed what he had expected to see – the lower portion of the rod that was fused to my spine was breaking down. So I was scheduled for surgery, in which he’d just fix that one portion. I should have spoken up, should have told him to fuse the whole darn thing. Maybe that would have saved me from the nerve pain that followed. It was worse than awful. I thought I was gonna die. I was put on steriods – did two rounds of them, but it didn’t help, except on the first day, when the dosage was the highest. I didn’t want to lay down because getting up was completely unbearable. I screamed. I cried. I begged God to end it. But for some reason, He didn’t. He was saying, I am holding you. Be strong and courageous. You can do this. We can do this. It will be over soon, I promise.
Finally, finally, after four weeks of this torture (and it was torture, believe me), my surgeon went back in and saw that bolts and screws or whatever were all loose and that was what was causing the horrible pain. He went back in and fixed it and after another nine days (added to the five already served in the hospital that summer) in the hospital, I finally went home in a back brace. I had to wear it for 3 months. So not my favorite thing to accessorize with, but if it saved me from pain, I was all for it. Except I had lost 10 pounds when I couldn’t afford to and the brace poked me endlessly. It rubbed the skin off of my hips. I took to shoving rags and socks in there to protect myself.
After I was able to shed the brace, I was all right for a while. But then, one morning, I moved to get out of bed and I felt it again – pain. Not the same kind of pain as before, but still pain, nevertheless. Eventually, it went away so I didn’t think too much about it. Except the next morning, it was back. And the next. And the next, for about two and a half years. I told myself it wasn’t so bad because it went away, often within ten minutes. But it still wasn’t pretty. I had a really hard time getting to the bathroom on time in the morning with my back hurting the way it was. One day, I decided that I’ve had enough and was scheduled for a 4th and hopefully final back surgery.
Now I am painfree. I still have and will always have scoliosis, but I don’t have pain associated with it anymore. I never gave up. But because of the pain, I couldn’t really focus on writing. I had to wait. God had more in store for me than just pain, but I had to wait until my head was clear and my heart was free. And then, I started researching childhood cancer, trying to figure out what went wrong in my case. But maybe it doesn’t matter, because God has His reasons even if I don’t know them. And I’m here, aren’t I? So I started following the cancer journeys of kids on Facebook, and learning about different kinds of pediatric cancer. I started reaching out to others. I think I always knew that this was going to be a part of who I’m becoming. I devoured fictional books about kids with cancer and tried to write stories about it. And now, after all that, I know I’m on the right track.
When times get rough, God is always right there with you. He is even carrying you, like that famous “Footprints in the Sand” poem says. His ways are not our ways, and no amount of wishing or praying for something different can turn Him around. He always, always, always has our best interests in mind. Things may not seem right or fair at times, but keep trusting. God knows what He is doing. After all, He has done it before, throughout the ages, and we haven’t. The world is still here, and tomorrow, it will be here still. It may try to take us down, but God is right there, reaching out a loving hand, and whispering, Never ever give up.