my jelly donut

T.J.Children, Faith, Family, Friends, Marriage, Parenting1 Comment

Jelly Donuts

There are a lot of questions in life without answers. One of my favorite sayings is “God is God; I am not.”

People, amidst difficult and despondent situations, tend to ask, “Why would God allow this (bad/wrong/evil) to happen?” Or they take the situation and validate their own belief, their guess, that there is no God since this “bad/evil” has happened. We live in a world full of evil people! Therefore, we see and experience evil things. We live amongst the corrupt and greedy. Look around!

We live in a world full of sin. We are sinners. We are born into this sin-filled world, we ourselves are full of sin. With sin comes pain, suffering, and trials. The effects of our’s and Adam’s sin are evident in our everyday lives.

There is hope (a bit of a spoiler alert for those who read on).

I am in pain. I sit here now, typing, literally in pain. As I’ve pointed out, I am a sinner (just like you). Sinner as I may be, from a worldly perspective I am actually a decent fellow. I don’t say that to be arrogant; I say it to point out that in a world where stealing is worse than speeding, murder is worse than assaulting someone, and adultery is not even a crime, I am pretty darn good.

Sin affects even “good” people. Job was “blameless and upright,” he “feared God and turned away from evil.” Even so, after getting permission from God, Satan attacked Job, giving Job the most miserable life imaginable, heartache and pain none of us will ever understand, all approved by God. Satan ruined Job to the extent God allowed, “Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” Not only is Satan, “the ruler of this world,” attacking us every day, our world is different than the perfect place God intended it to be and will restore one day (hopefully soon). When Adam sinned, pain and suffering, embarrassment and shame, greed and need, long and hard work hours, birth pains, and more became our norm. Perfection, need-free, pain-free, sin-free, was and remains gone until His return.

Getting back on the personal track… I have a desiccated and herniated disc in my lumbar spine causing all different kinds of pain in my low back. The disc presses against the nerves in my narrowed spinal canal causing excruciating pain down my perfectly formed buttock, sculpted thigh, chiseled calf, and into my J.R. Tolkien picturesque Hobbit-like foot. Some of that is true (the Hobbit foot); some fabricated so you don’t have to imagine my fat butt and hairy leg.

My disc, the jelly donut as I have come to call it, oozed its jelly more than three months ago. I have been off work since, unable to perform my normal duties, and following the doctor’s advice, not working “light-duty” in the office, so as to not exacerbate the problem sitting at a desk, driving to and fro, up down up down, etc.

For the first few weeks, I couldn’t move without some of the worst pain I’ve ever experienced (don’t think I haven’t experienced real physical pain in the past; ask me if you want to know). The pain was primarily in my back, at times shooting down my left leg. The pain in my back slowly started to get better with physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments, non-invasive spinal decompression, and acupuncture. The pain in my back had decreased so much, I was optimistic about the future and ready to go to work. Then, one morning I woke up, sat up in bed and had an odd tingling and heavy feeling in my left leg. A painful, dead leg like, feeling. It didn’t go away. Throughout the day, the days following, and now, it has turned into excruciating pain that at times sends bolts of more pain from my back to my foot.

I have lived in pain this whole time.

Making it more difficult, I have lived with my thoughts.

It is hard to be away from work. Yes, I love my job. Yes, there is a lot I don’t love about my job. That’s besides the point. The point is, why it is hard, I feel like I am letting people down by not being there. I feel guilty that someone has to pick up my work because I’m not there. I feel like a bad employee to the people who hired me. I got hired to do a specific job. I feel like a failure because I can’t do that job.

If I am being honest, I have always judged people who “go out on injury.” I looked at them with a certain, “how dare you,” attitude. I let the sinful stereotype – people who take advantage of the workman’s comp system, people who lie and deceive – become how I thought of everyone who did not work because of an injury. Maybe not everyone, but most. I confess I was horribly wrong and I am very sorry to those people I judged. I can think of one in particular who did not work because of a herniated disc. I get it now.

Part of the reasons I judged these people are now the metaphorical stones being thrown at me. A few examples… One of the things the doctor and physical therapist recommend, one thing I enjoy doing and alleviates some pain, is walking. So, if you see me walking in my neighborhood, at Costco or Target, if you see me out and about, walking around, it does not mean I am not in pain. It means I am in a little less pain cause I’m walking, and a little less stir crazy because I got out of the house. It does not mean I can go back to work because I can walk.

I still go out to dinner with the family. Kelli and I have gone on a few dates. I have been to a couple movies with friends. I attend church. I sit in this coffee shop typing. I do it all in pain. If you see me sitting in a restaurant, it does not mean I am ready to go sit at my desk for 8 hours a day. If you see me out on a date with Kelli, it does not mean I am pain free and celebrating. It means I am in love with my wife and dealing with some pain so the two of us can go out. When you see me lift up my daughter, it does not mean I am ready to wear thirty pounds of gear everyday. It means I am a dad who loves his daughter and will painfully pick her up on occasion to give her the physical affection she wants and needs. I also like to throw her up in the air; her giggling out weighs the pain. Since Santa brought my son a train set, I got on the floor and played with him. I laid down and iced the rest of the morning, but I did it because I love my son and want to be a good dad.

Praise God I can fight through some of the pain to still live my life as husband, dad and friend!

Don’t judge me, as I have judged others. You may see me out and about; you probably haven’t seen my tears (maybe two, I don’t cry). I can’t, I physically cannot, pickup Jane every time. I can’t wrestle with Mac on the floor. Wrestling with me is his favorite thing to do. I stand helpless as Kelli lifts up the case of water bottles at Costco while the North Ranch wife looks at me with disgust (while her maidservant lifts her case).

I am living in pain with, as you see now, my thoughts.

Please do not read all of this and think “poor guy.” I am far from it. I am extremely blessed. I am not Job. My family is happy and healthy. I have a house, a wife, two kids and a dog (“and the troops will bring the freedom” -Chipp McCap, Parks and Rec – I’ve watched a lot of TV lately). I have a “small” 60” television and long enough couch to lay down on. Although my 150 pound 8-month-old puppy has not mastered fetching me a beer (yet), there is a fridge full of beer. I am very blessed. Do not feel bad for me.

Why should a decent fellow like me live in pain? Why would God allow such pain to hurt me? That is an easy answer! I am a sinner; I live in a sinful world.

The more interesting question is, “What is God going to do?” I am not in pain in vain. God is the orchestrator of all things, and, “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good…”

I do know trials in our lives are used to build us up. Build our character. Teach us to be steadfast. “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”

Now I am not, by any means, claiming to be the best or even a good example of this. But, I do know where to look, am striving to that end, and hope to encourage at least one by doing so.

“As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.”

It is easy to let your thoughts interfere, “Maybe this is why it happened,” “Maybe God will do this.” The “what ifs” are never ending.

God has a plan. I wish I knew what it was, but I do not.

God is God; I am not.

I may be sounding a little “emo,” sorry, my inner hipster coming out. For the most part, I like to think I have actually maintained a pretty positive attitude about all of this. My hope is in Christ. My hope is in my future. My hope is found in the truth that Christ has conquered death and will one day restore perfection…

Pain free perfection.

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