Celebrating an anniversary can have a range of feelings. The anniversary of a momentous occasion fills our hearts with feelings of joy as we remember the most important times of our lives. Birthdays, weddings, even buying a home, all bring feelings of pure joy! But there are also anniversaries that bring to remembrance times that you wish you could probably forget. The passing of loved ones, a loss of a job or home, even dreams that were once alive.
May 13, 2017 was the day that changed my life forever. It was on that day that I began the journey that I am now. After a wonderful day, I was preparing for the next day, Mother’s Day with my family. Our kiddos were settling down and I was hit with the worst pain imaginable. It was a 100 on a pain scale of 1-10! It felt like someone was drilling into the left side of my face with a blade on fire. That is the only way to explain the unimaginable pain that I was in. Within 24 hours I had seen 2 doctors and a dentist. Both doctors gave me medicine that offered no relief. And my dentist was left speechless. That following week, I saw my dentist 4 more times until he exhausted his options. He was confident and fearful that what I was experiencing was in fact incurable. Trigeminal Neuralgia. Leave it to google to inform me that my condition was labeled “the suicide” disorder. I would soon come to know why it was labeled that way.
Within the next month, I was referred by my dentist to a pain specialist that offered pain medicine but not answers. At this point, with minimal pain relief and continual pain, I knew I needed to lay it at the cross. More than I had ever done. I knew that going to visits simply for medicinal relief was not enough for me. I wanted answers and healing!!! As I prayed prayers I never thought I would utter, I knew still, that a neurological visit was needed.
The next available visit to a neurologist was 5 months away. I would have to deal with this excruciating pain for 4 more months. The medicine brought my pain down to an 11 out of a 1-10 scale. It was relief! But it was destroying my mind. My mind was numb and leaving gaps in my memory. I was lost in thought often. A simple conversation left me needing a nap from the mental exhaustion. I was so fatigued from the brain fog, that I spent all of my children’s summer break on the couch (Thankfully, I learned quickly that this was not just my journey, but my kid’s and my husband’s too as they each helped me cope). The pain in my face left my face incapable of smiling and even talking. Singing worship in church was next to impossible. I could only lift my hands in thanksgiving that I was able to even stand in service. Did I mention that I was also teaching a class? God’s grace definitely led me through the impossible!!!
Once I saw my neurologist at the end of the year, he referred me to see an orthodontic specialist. She found part 1/3 of what was causing my excruciating pain. I had an infection in the root of a tooth that was completely hidden. It took 3 (YES 3) root canals and weeks of antibiotics to rid the infection. Praise God that it is completely clear!! She also discovered that my sinus cavity was being inflamed from the infection. 2/3 of the issues was now cleared. Part 3, Trigeminal neuralgia remains (Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal nerve, which carries sensation from your face to your brain).
As I sit here today thinking on the fact that I have been on this journey for 1 year, one tremendous thing has become apparent: I CAN DO NOTHING SEPARATE FROM GOD! I don’t say this lightly or absent from experience. There are days where I have to talk myself through the simplest of thought processes because learning to trust my mind again is necessary. In order to continue teaching, I know that I have to depend on God. In actuality, I do so with full submission knowing that He has not failed me this year, OR EVER! When the weather changes and the cold or rain threaten to steal my limited pain days, I stand upon the truth that my God is my comforter. When I want to lay in the bed all day because my mind is weak, I remember that He is strong. When I want to pity myself because I am suffering, I acknowledge the thorn in my side, and acknowledge even more that Jesus bore all pain and suffering at the cross so that in eternity, I wouldn’t have to! Do I suffer? Yes, about 3/7 days. But I still choose joy through the pain!
So I encourage you today! Don’t run from those anniversaries of hard times, struggles, pain, or even death. Although you would want to look at them in sorrow, we can look at them and be confident that, “Crying may last for a night, but joy comes with the new day” (Psalm 30:5). If like me your mind is weak at times and you can’t trust your own thoughts, write down Scripture that reminds you of the truth! When you feel like your emotions are keeping you imprisoned, remember, “Whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything” (1 John 3:20).
DON’T JOURNEY ALONE! Invite God into those weakest of places confidently knowing that He will never leave or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6). Even if you wake up tomorrow and your circumstance is still there, TRUST HIM... My favorite passage to remember in my most difficult of days is 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.” I don’t need to put on a strong face. I have the Living God on the inside of me gracing me with His strength! And so do you…