Thursday, September 19, 2013


Disclaimer: I have an aversion to any public discussion of squeamish bodily conditions, which is why I've debated about sharing this one. I'll spare the details.

Several months ago or maybe even a year a stupid cyst developed on my back. I ignored it. It was a little unsightly when I wore a bathing suit but oh well, it wasn't bothering me. Then it began to grow larger and larger and finally I reluctantly scheduled an appointment with a dermatologist. (Find a sitter, spend money). She injected it with Cortisone but within a few weeks it was even bigger. So I made another appointment (find a sitter, spend more money). More cortisone, soon an even larger cyst.

The lump by now had grown way beyond a little unsightly. It became angry and bruised, extremely tender and swollen. Eventually I couldn't sleep on my back, yelped if it was touched it, etc. But it was just a stupid cyst. Nothing life-threatening. I had already bothered this doctor twice with my problem, I'd scheduled a follow-up appointment in a few weeks and so I just would wait until then.

But the cyst became uglier and more and more painful and so finally, reluctantly, I called and apologetically explained that the treatments she had given me weren't working and "it's really not that unbearable, just uncomfortable, I mean I think I can live with it until my next appointment, but it's pretty big, and, well, I hope I'm not overreacting . .."

She had me come right in, and, in order to avoid the squeamish factor I will leave it at that.  I had probably waited too long and it was a good thing I called the doctor when I did. Taking care of it hurt, but now it is gone and I'm not living with this painful thing any longer.

So I am always wondering what I am meant to take away from these kinds of random events. It was nothing serious, and the problem has been taken care of, but is there something more here? These are some things I learned from a big stupid cyst . ..

I want to believe things will just take care of themselves, and go away.

I hate to overreact. We are trained to downplay our experiences.

I tend to prefer discomfort more than change.

The way this plays out in life is . ..

As a parent, I often defer to distracting, redirecting, or soothing an issue rather than a firm No. Jim helps me to see how this is not helpful to my children in any way.

As a friend, I avoid messy subjects or confronting misunderstandings in hope that the issue will just go away.

I don't always trust my feelings.

Spiritually, I tend to think of doing the right thing as being the pleasanter, least offensive route rather than the often painful work of healing or disruptive work of peacemaking.

I feel responsible to keep peace and make sure people are happy (control), rather than trusting God's work both to tear down and to build up.

This week I had to deal with a painful situation. There was this thing that wouldn't go away- it wasn't life-threatening, I could have continued to live with it possibly. But it was becoming more and more uncomfortable. I avoided dealing with it for a long time out of hope that it would just work itself out. Finally I could ignore it no longer.

I dreaded- grieved, struggled in prayer- over how dealing with this issue would cause disappointment or possibly pain for others. But avoiding it was only creating more pain.

In the end, it hurt, yes. There was a breaking apart, a wounding, but there also was healing. It was healing not only for me but I think too for the relationships involved. Even though I still don't understand all that happened or why, I feel a sense of health and love being poured in.

I do believe however that there could not have been healing were there not also grief. Acknowledging pain is the beginning of healing.

While I find petty complaining just as unbearable as anyone, to not complain is entirely unbiblical. The Bible is full of complaints, tears, grief, conflict, sorrow. Being in touch with pain is the way we cry out for healing and blessing, both for ourselves and for others.

I also tend to avoid reckless truth-tellers, the people who feel so compelled to distribute Truth that they seem to have small concern for hurt they might cause.

Neither avoidance nor reckless confrontation bring healing. The only way to heal is first by admitting this hurts.

Healer of our every ill,
Light of each tomorrow,
give us peace beyond our fear,
and hope beyond our sorrow.

You who know our fears and sadness,
grace us with your peace and gladness.
Spirit of all comfort, fill our hearts

In the pain and joy beholding
how your grace is still unfolding,
give us all your vision, God of love

Give us strength to love each other,
every sister, every brother.
Spirit of all kindness, be our guide

You who know each thought and feeling,
teach us all your way of healing.
Spirit of compassion, fill each heart.

(Marty Haugen)

(I often think of Paul as a blunt truth-teller, but I was struck this summer as I read 1 & 2 Corinthians by how deeply Paul's correction to the Corinthian church grieved and distressed him).


Corinne Cunningham said...

This couldn't have been easy to write, but thank you for writing it :) This summer brought some health issues here as well, but I hadn't really thought to look deeper for the lessons (which I'm sure there are many...) I could learn from the process of it all.

Cara said...

Much love to you as you continue the healing process from this situation. May you find God's peace and love and comfort in knowing that you are following God! Love you, friend!!