Soaring upon Broken Wings; Becoming Whole


A slight tingling began atop her toes traveling through her limbs, sinews, until each cell was humming with life. The faint sound of clear water dancing happily over and under rocks, limbs, and around bends tickled her ears tempting her to open her eyes. Automatically, her body took a long deep breath filling her lungs with a lightly sweet, clear breath embracing her taste buds with a delectable blend of honey and roses. A sigh releases the air she had claimed as her own.

Willing her eyelids to lift seemed to be a herculean effort causing confusion and a host of inner questions. Her first attempt was met with brilliance so overwhelming she closed her eyes tighter than before. She decided to allow her other senses to communicate to her instead. Beneath her she felt a sun-warmed, soft bed of what her nose identified as tender new grass shoots. Outstretching her arms upon the surface, she concluded she must be lying in a field and not just a bed made from fresh grass. As she slowly caressed the immediate landscape she observed the absence of pebbles, roots, insects or other debris that might have marred her rest area.

A warm honeysuckle breeze danced over her frame causing a slight shiver. It was not cold but the wind skipped atop her skin as if it were trying to encourage her to proceed ever further in her exploration. Softly, slowly the sunbeams kissed her skin bringing color to her cheeks. The rapid beat of hummingbird wings combined with song birds, chirping chipmunks, and the splash of jumping fish soothed her ears. She wanted this moment to last forever as she had never felt such sensations in all her lived long life.

Raising her hand to her eyes she made a second attempt to view the world around her. Gradually her vision began to adjust to the brilliance. It was not a moment too soon as her curiosity had worked itself into a frenzy. At first, the light was so bright that she considered for a moment that the space she occupied was devoid of all color and definition. The adjustment was agonizingly slow but shapes and colors eventually began to come into focus. She was indeed in a field of new grass hemmed in by large evergreens creating an alcove of sorts. Flowers, animals, song birds, and large colorful butterflies among other creatures shared the pristine patch of creation with her. They seemed to be absent of all fear of her and of each other.

Although she considered herself well-versed, the awe inspiring beauty in which she found herself defied description. Still in a reclined position, she found herself looking up into the large brown eyes of a new fawn. A broad smile graced her countenance while the joy she felt bubbled out in the form of a giggle. The fawn cocked his head in wonder at the strange creature that had suddenly arrived in this blessed habitat. Long graceful lashes batted toward her as if the small creature were encouraging her to move. She slowly pushed herself up into a sitting position then froze as if struck by lightning. Two bright blue butterflies with yellow spots were performing a clumsy but intricate ballet within her field of vision but her mind was racing with another thought so overwhelming that she was not able to fully appreciate the pair.

What just happened? Her mind demanded. She returned to a laying position and searched the sky for familiar markers but all she could see was light. No sun, no clouds, no horizon only light. Her breathing became rapid now as she repeated the action of sitting up and lying down in quick succession. Each time she accomplished the task her smile became ever broader until she was squealing with delight. With her last sit-up she followed through to a standing position. It happened with such ease that she was certain this all must be a glorious dream and began thanking her Father for this precious gift.

Looking down for the first time, she noticed she was adorned with a light flowing shift made of the softest gossamer that just tickled the top of her feet. When her inspection reached her hands she took a sharp breath. They were not swollen, red, or disfigured. She flexed them with ease and tears began to accumulate as her bodily survey continued. Nothing was swollen, no sores, and her skin was perfect! None of her digits were bent askew making them unusable; no pain raced throughout her body…no pain. Her hands flew to her head where she found a full head of hair flowing down her back. Her hands lingered in her locks as the welled tears flowed freely from their pools. Without hesitation she ran to the creek, knelt down, and peered into the crystal water. Her thick wavy hair tumbled forward framing her face. The reflection revealed a beautiful woman without blemish. So foreign was this reflection that she turned around quickly to see who was standing over her but the space was occupied by family of rabbits happily munching on clover.

Almost afraid to look upon the reflection again for fear it would be different, she hesitated to return her gaze back toward the glassy pool of water. She chided herself for wasting time in this wonderful dream and returned her attention to a reflection she had to admit to be her own. None of the scars the disease had created were there, no, her skin was so smooth and soft that it felt as if it were a newborn’s skin. Her tongue raced back and forth across her teeth making her smile ever greater. They were all there, perfect, white and shining back through her tear glazed eyes. While growing up she only allowed herself to believe that she had three features that she could consider beautiful, her hair, her eyes, and her teeth. When the ailments and medications attacked them, distorted them and caused their eventual loss, she felt truly hideous in the eyes of mankind. Of course, the skin ulcerations completed the package of ‘monster’ in her eyes. Not only did she not think of herself as a real woman any longer but she barely felt human.

But this…this was not possible…this was amazing, for she was beautiful, she was whole, without blemish. Could this be how she would have existed if creation had not been broken by sin? Could this vision before her be who God sees when he looks upon her?

While these realizations filled her with the utmost joy and thanksgiving her second conclusion blew her away.

“There is no pain…, no…pain but how can this be?”

she marveled as she recounted all the movements she had just performed without giving any of them a second thought. She just thought about them and did it without hesitation or a “game plan” to complete them as per her usual routine.

“No pain? No Pain? No Pain! No Pain!” She cried aloud while jumping up and down in sheer and utter delight.

Born with a chronic pain-filled progressive disease, the woman had never known a single moment where pain had not accompanied her upon her journey. Is this really how other people wake up every day? This is amazing, stupendous, miraculous…yes…it …is….miraculous! Yet, it went far beyond the absence of physical pain. Her heart that had been bruised, crushed, destroyed and reconstructed on multiple occasions did not hurt. There was an absence of sadness. In fact, the very concept of pain was beginning to fade from her recollection as her being absorbed the reality of the world around her.

“Please, Lord, let this be more than a dream. I am sorry to be greedy and ask this of you after you have gifted me such a glorious dream but this is too wonderful from which to awake!” She cried in earnest to her Heavenly Father.

The breeze stilled and the creatures silenced their musings as she felt a presence there with her. It was not menacing but it was quite powerful. Trembling a bit, she slowly turned instantly recognizing the lamb standing before her. She fell to her knees and worshiped him and thanking him for this glorious gift. His hand encompassed hers bringing her to a standing position.

“My child, you are home. Your work is complete and now you are finally home. Your body is perfect, without illness, without pain, without a single symptom of a creation broken. This is not a dream child. This, my dear daughter, is eternity and it is with a glad heart that I welcome you to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
_____________________________________________________________________________________

To all my friends and family who are broken in some manner,

Remember, this is not your home. You were put here to do a job and when that job is complete, the Father will bring you home so do not despair in the pain and sorrow of today. Do not overly grieve for loved ones who have gone home, for they have earned their reward and are enjoying eternity. After all, it is not good-bye, not really because we will be reunited. Pain is the weapon of Satan because he knows if he weakens us then buries us with troubles our spirits will weaken and our faith may die. Nothing would please him more.
However, have fair warning, if you choose not to follow God’s plan for your life and never start or complete the job he created you for that will not preclude you from death. It will only mean that you wasted your life delaying the healing of creation, for the Father will create another to do the job you were supposed to do.

Why Am I?


Opening my eyes
greeted by my pups
yapping good morning.

I have to move,
I must get out of bed
and I think, ‘Why again,
did I want dogs?’ but then
their exuberant kisses,
happy eyes and wagging tails
quickly remind me.

I muster my strength
and pull myself to the edge
of the bed, simultaneously
praying for the ability
and offering praise for
each and every inch.

My pups cheer me on
until I am upright
wobbling my way
to the bathroom.

Putting on my robe
releases another round
of barking, but now in urgency.
I move as quickly as
my body will permit.

By the time I hobble my
way to the living room,
start the routine and
hook them to their
leashes they are
dancing in circles.

I grasp the leashes tightly,
grimace at the pain,
then open the door.
They bound outside
to find their favorite
spots then scout out
the yard for nightly
critter activity.

I descend the five steps
that lead to my home
stiff-legged holding
firmly to the leashes.
Walking to my favorite
spot, a lawn chair
providing a picturesque view
between several large,
beautiful trees. Wispy
white clouds are
streaked across the
blue expanse.

I praise God for this gift
and begin thinking. First,
I think of the tasks
that need accomplished,
the tasks that I would
like to accomplish,
and then the ones that will
actually get accomplished.

I dismiss the aches and pains,
and the spasms in my back,
while inspecting the ulcerations
upon my skin.

Now I have time to ponder,
“Why am I?”

“Everything will be okay…”


“Everything will be okay…”

 

                How many times have you heard this phrase uttered by someone who is trying to offer hope or support? Regardless of whether your pain emanates from a broken heart, mind, spirit, or body makes little difference. We tell others, “It is going to be okay. I know it is hard now but you are going to be okay.”  This may offer solace in the moment but the harm it can do when circumstances never become, “okay”, can be severe. Worse yet is when these misguided comforters bring God in to reinforce their statements. A person enduring severe suffering hasn’t the strength or the ability to see a distant light at the end of a proverbial tunnel; therefore, our words must be chosen with care. At times, silence is better than anything we can offer except a soft and strong shoulder to cry upon.  Words have immense power to create great good or great evil so we must be wise when we use them.

             This seemingly innocuous statement holds hidden harm because many situations in life can never be made, Okay. Things do not turn out alright every time and the good guy doesn’t always win. Sadly, when God is attached to the ‘Okay’ thinking it sends the message that God promises to make everything turn out positively, the way we want them to turn out. This false reality is one in which those who have enough faith are healed, the poor are blessed richly, and disease and pestilence are eradicated. As I have stated in previous posts, the strength of one’s faith does not equate to God giving us whatever we want. He is not a genie in a bottle and our faith should not depend upon whether or not we are happy in life.   Pain, of any kind, is a game changer and is the reason we question our faith.

              Acknowledging that God will heal His creation does not mean that every crisis in our lives will turn out ‘Okay‘. The truth is much more difficult to accept; therefore, believers alter it so that they can cope with pain and crisis compounding their own and other’s suffering. God promises us many things in scripture and some of those things are wonderful and easy to accept while others are not so easy. God tells us that if we follow Him then our lives will be difficult (Luke 21:17; Mt 24:9; Gal 3:4; Rom 8:18, etc.). He is not the cause of our suffering, for His perfect plan for our lives and creation is for our good, to build us up and not to tear us down (Jeremiah 29:11). He wants us to prosper but above all, He wants us to love one another as purely as He loves us.

             Just imagine what the world would be like if we would just try to treat others as if everyone we met mattered…because they do matter… an awful lot. We meet so many people while trying to live our lives and this has never been truer than in modernity. In this age, we have the possibility of interacting or affecting millions of people. Time and distance are no longer the barriers they once were. We have the power, through our choices, to impact the walk of another.

            The people we meet are as varied as the fish in the sea or the flowers in the field.  There are people who know pain and are either surviving it or have survived it. These are the folks who keep getting knocked off the path, by Satan, but choose to claw their way back up time and again. Then there are those who were on the path the Lord wanted them to be on but when they got knocked off they could not find the strength to climb back. Next are those who never got on the path because no one told them it was there and they ignored the evidence of God all around them. Finally, there will be those we meet that actively and viciously fight the truth and cling onto worldly things in order not to be swayed. These people know the path exists but make choices that actively take them further and further away from it. They are concerned about their own pleasure and prosperity.

            Each and every person we come into contact with will impact us and we them. Regardless of the degree of impact, we need to remember that what we do, say, read, write, or create has an outcome, good or bad.  No matter how infinitesimal you believe it to be, your choices have a ripple effect throughout all of creation.  God uses everything that He has created, including you, to bring about the fulfillment of His plans. You needn’t acknowledge Him or cooperate with Him but he will use your choices to bring about the good of all of creation. That does not mean that He approves of the choices that his children make. It only means that He will use anything and everything to bring about his plan to destroy all pain and suffering (2 Thess. 1:5).

            If God is all powerful and all knowing then why is there so much suffering and heartache? Indeed, He has the power to stop your suffering and bring justice to those who caused it whether it is another human or the result of a broken creation. Why then doesn’t he just stop it all right now? Why doesn’t He make things ‘okay’ for His hurting children? Is He deaf to our pain? Of course not, He hears us and feels our struggle as His own, His heart aches for his children, all of his children. None of us were ever meant to suffer. This was never part of His plan but we were given choice and that changed everything. We may not like or accept the answers we seek because they may be difficult for us to hear; however, if you want to get beyond the pre-packaged one-liners then you must investigate and delve deeper. In doing so, you will likely find more questions than answers because our finite minds and limited perspective can only take us so far into understanding.  

            The reason He does not stop the pain and suffering this instant is because He is merciful and patient. You may feel this to be a ludicrous statement but He tells generation after generation who have been persecuted and had injustices thrust upon them that He not only hears our suffering but he mourns for it too.  Yes, He could come back while you sit here reading this post, eradicating all evil and pain from the lives of all his children. He does promise that He will destroy all evil in His creation, He will rescue the children that have chosen Him but it will be in His time.  He will create a new heaven and a new earth and all who have chosen him will live in a world so pure that our minds cannot fathom it. No pain, of any kind ever again! He will reward his faithful children by living among them and eliminating all brokenness. This is not only a promise made to us but it is a warning to all who have rejected Him. There will come a day when His patience and mercy will end and He will judge all. It will be a fierce day of many losses and God’s anger against those who have rejected him and persecuted all of us who have held unto him will be unmatched in all of human history. No one knows when this day will come but it will be a day when God says, enough. The cost to all those who do not know him or actively oppose him will be so great that it will be incomprehensible. If he would act now many of his children would be lost for all eternity. He holds back his hand of judgment in order to allow non-believers, his lost children, every opportunity to come home before they are weeded out (Mt 3:12 NLT).  

            Knowing this, we must be patient as well and I am saying this from a position of chronic pain and disability; therefore, my words are not uttered lightly. We are not the first to suffer greatly throughout our lives, although it may feel like it at times. We are not the first to feel heartache so deep that it threatens to cease our breath altogether.

             When you become a flickering light within the vast empty darkness, Satan will do whatever it takes to snuff you out. This does not mean that he will kill you. Nope, all he has to do is kill your faith. You get to keep suffering and he has stopped you from reaching out to the creator for help. He wins this battle then will move onto the next person.  He actively attempts to destroy God’s followers every moment of every day regardless of how you pray or the strength of your faith. In fact, if you have strong faith then Satan will try that much harder to destroy you because he knows if he is able to make you to give up then he has won a victory over his creator. Imagine the ripple effect it would have upon all humans if a person, who has been a champion for Christ, begins to succumb to Satan’s tricks. Of course, you do not have to use too much of your imagination because one viewing of the nightly news will provide several examples of “godly” people who have committed horrible atrocities and in doing so soiled the name of God.

              As illustration, if your pastor/priest were suddenly accused of adultery, molestation, murder, or some other crime/sin, how would you react? How many would fall with him or her? How many unbelievers would use the failures of these “pillars of the community” as reason to flee Christ or blame God for their troubles? When things do not turn out ‘okay‘ then both the misguided comforter and the person in crisis will have their faith shook to its core. Their pain may turn to poison and serve to kindle anger against God and everyone else. In our limited understanding, we believe what others have told us (instead of investigating it ourselves) and then blame God for our disease, heartache, poverty, persecution, etcetera but all of these things are a direct result of evil’s reign upon the Earth. Collectively, human sins have not only opened the door wide to evil but we have taken the door off its hinges allowing an acrid sea of evil to invade our lives. Nothing has been untouched, nothing.  No, I am not saying that we cause our own suffering, although that is true in specific incidences. No, the problem runs much deeper than the suffering specific to our life at this moment in time.

            Suffering is caused by a shockwave from each sin committed by every human being that has ever breathed life on this planet. This wave of evil permeates every molecule in creation; therefore, all of creation is broken. We are living within the shockwave of sin the generations that came before committed. Plus, the sins we commit ourselves will strengthen that shockwave laying waste to future generations. None of us are sinless; therefore, none of us are blameless. We invite evil into our world and its only purpose is to destroy us and all we love for only through our pain can it thrive. Obviously, you have the choice to dismiss all of this as spiritual mumbo jumbo and that is your God-given right but its truth is not dependent upon your belief.

             Here are some examples that illustrate the ripple effect of sin throughout creation.  If a land developer decides to decimate thousands of acres of untouched land for the purpose of building a shopping mall and in doing so inadvertently destroys an insect or plant that held the cure to cancer? Has not his sin of greed affected us all? If one child takes the life of another because he/she wanted something the other had, are we not all the cause and the victims of this deadly transaction?  “I do not want my kids to grow up the way I did so….I will give him or her everything I never had.”  Advertisers use psychologists to feed the idea that to be a good parent is to give everything to your children. They deliberately try to make us think we need what they are selling! Our entire “free-market” society is based on the premise of greed and over consumption.  Hence, should we not hold ourselves, as part of the human race, culpable?

            A few more examples: You are the best friend of a woman who has just found out that her husband has been sexually abusing her daughter and son who are now 8 and 4 respectively. Her husband purports to be a Christian and has twisted God’s truths to reconcile hurting his children, his wife, his community, his church, and all Christians everywhere. What do you say to your friend, “Don’t worry, everything is going to be alright…”? This is never going to be okay, this has caused a wound in creation that will swallow both the faithful and faithless alike because it is evil. No matter how much time passes, this will never be okay for any of them. Will God make good from the evil that was clearly intended and perpetrated by Satan? Absolutely He will! However, there is a catch of sorts. God gave each of us free will or choice because he loved us. It is the choices made by the abusive father that brought another wound upon God’s creation. It will be the choices of the mother and other relatives that will affect how the children heal. And it is the choices of the children themselves that have the potential to bring about God’s will or to perpetrate further evil. God allows us to choose to follow Him and do good to bring His plan to fruition or to become embittered and then toxic to others. Will God’s plan come to fruition if you choose not to follow Him? Yes, He will work through another, who has chosen to work through the pain that is certain, to bring about healing in His Creation.

             Consider this one; you are sitting with a husband and wife who have just been told by the doctors that their child can look forward to a life filled with unimaginable pain and mobility problems. There is no cure but there are medications that can be taken to manage the disease but they will cause all sorts of nasty secondary health issues the longer the child takes them. What do you say to them? Their hopes and dreams for their child have just shattered into a million pieces. However, God will use this child to fulfill His will for good if the child chooses to follow Him. Regardless of whether you were born with a debilitating disease or have one diagnosed later in life, it will never be okay. Yet, good can come from it.

             The disease itself will bring no good to anyone BUT our reactions to knowing someone who has chronic sickness or our reactions while enduring it ourselves has the greatest potential for good or evil. Does that mean we are supposed to be smiling all the time and be a joyful sufferer?  No. That is not humanly possible and anyone who appears to be “joyful” in their suffering is faking it, which will later lead to resentment and anger toward God and others. However, chronic suffering does not give you license to be angry and bitter toward everyone. You can be joy-filled because joy comes from God but no one can sustain happiness all the time. If you truly want to see someone’s character or whether they live what they believe, watch them during times of suffering because anyone can be a good Christian or just a good person, in general, in times that are happy. Remember, only under great pressure can a lump of coal shine like a diamond; therefore, your thoughts and words will shine brightly when they are born in hardship if tempered with love and faith.

            As you read this post you have probably thought of at least ten sins/crimes committed by those you know or know of  and can see how much damage their sin has done, but have you dared look inward and identify the sins you have perpetrated? Evil is very real and our sin allows it to corrode us from the inside out.  So much harm is caused in our world by those who ardently call and fight for justice but refuse to stop and look at what they, themselves are doing to perpetuate the crime, violence, and brokenness of this world. None of us are innocent. Our ideas and words have power regardless of whether we think anyone is listening. The ideas we purport to the next generation either deepen or help heal the brokenness.           

             The idea that “everything will be okay, if you just hold onto your faith”, is a lie and telling it to someone who is suffering may set them on the road to faithlessness or self-destruction. In the end of time, yes, God promises to eradicate evil but many lifetimes have come and gone in which people wasted their entire lives waiting for God to reward their faith by taking whatever hardship they were enduring and making it, Okay. Some things can NEVER be made okay and instead of accepting that and working hard to make our little corner of creation better; some of us fall into angry, destructive bitterness. If we provide false hope to a suffering person/family it would be as if we added gasoline to a smoldering fire.

            Understand this, Satan’s days are numbered and he knows it! His reign over the earth is coming to an end and he wants to cause as much pain to God as possible in the time he has left.  How then can a parent’s heart be shattered? Yes, by attacking his children (John 10:10).  How does this equate in real life? Pain, lots and lots of pain for all humankind but those who have Christ in their hearts will have hope; whereas, unbelievers face the same evils devoid of all hope. (Luke 21:17; Mt 24:9). God promises to give us strength through His grace to survive these attacks. He will use our weaknesses because in them there is strength (2 cor.12:7-10). It will not be easy but with God all things are possible, if your will and God’s will are aligned (Philippians 4:13). Yet, you must be careful in how you interpret this statement as well. Just because we have this “great idea or notion” does not mean that God promises that it will be fulfilled. It may be a fantastic idea and glorifying to God but you may not be the one he needs to do it or it may not be the right timing. Recall the story of David, Solomon and the building of the Lord’s temple as an Old Testament example. Our thinking is finite, constricted to the problems we see or experience in the now but we need to widen our scope if we hope to understand what God wants of us and how our particular suffering plays into His plan. No, he hasn’t caused our suffering but it is through the most broken that he brings healing to his creation. If we choose to follow him then our suffering will have purpose and positive things can be born of it instead of it leading to destruction.

            I know that I am headed for excruciating levels of pain that no medication will touch along with being bed-ridden some day but knowing the end does not exclude or excuse me from the good I can and will do. There is purpose in my suffering but it will be the choices I make that determine whether that purpose is going to heal creation or tear it further apart. Do I give in to my desire for self-pity and woefulness? Yep, I have been known to throw week-long pity-parties but then I get back up and step back on the path and keep climbing.           

            What should we do to offer help and hope to others? Should we even try to offer hope to someone suffering? Absolutely, just remember that God never created us to suffer. That was not in the original plans; therefore, any suffering we or others undergo is from Satan not God.  We must offer hope but do not make it false hope because that is a faith-killer. In an attempt to soothe the wounds of another, you may drive them away from God all together by misinterpreting scriptures or simply delivering trite statements to those in pain. Scripture must be felt within one’s soul in order to be useful; otherwise, they are only empty words. Scriptures like, “What Satan meant for Evil will be used by God, for Good (2 Thessalonians 1:5),”  “All things are used for the Glory of God so that his will may be served”. These phrases are rarely understood in full by the user but are commonly offered for counsel or support during a crisis.            Understand, both of these statements are true; however, when and how they are used is crucial. The bearer of the pain hears, “God wants me to suffer this horrible _________ to give Himself glory”!? “I have lost my child because it was God’s will?!” or “God gave me this debilitating disease in order to glorify himself? Why does my suffering bring him pleasure?” These thoughts are knee-jerk reactions to the pain and our minds need to hold someone accountable for our suffering. When no human can be blamed or justice is denied then we blame God for the agony that threatens to swallow us. When consumed by the apex of pain, nothing else can be seen or heard. You are raw and every fiber of your being throbs with an inhumane intensity regardless of the type of pain (Physical, psychological, spiritual, emotional, etc.).  It is better to say, “God will provide you the strength to bear this and he weeps with you as you mourn.”, rather than ‘everything will be okay’. This is a true statement that can offer hope after the person/people have come down from the crisis period. Your words must have fertile soil to grow and nothing will get past the intense pain of the apex. 

            We live within the New Testament era where Christ has paid for all of our sins; therefore, the pain we live in now is a direct result of the sins committed before us, the sins committed now, and our own life mistakes. Again, here is another chance to misunderstand what is being stated here. I do not mean that the sins you committed this day have caused your direct suffering; although, that can and does happen frequently. Sometimes A + B = C, meaning if we choose to rob a bank, are caught, tried, convicted, and then we experience abuse in prison making our existence a living hell, who is to blame? Is God to blame for this consequence or are we ourselves responsible for that suffering? If you abuse alcohol and are later diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver who then holds the blame? If you smoke like a chimney and are diagnosed with lung cancer, again, who is to blame? I understand all of these examples have exceptions and there exist many details that make each one unique, which is why I stated that Sometimes A +B=C.

            However, suffering does not only hit those who have made poor life choices. This is where it gets sticky.  If we concentrate on the immediate ramifications then we will miss the big picture. The first sin committed started a ripple effect throughout every molecule of all of creation. In the instant evil entered creation, everything changed. Nothing was untouched, nothing. The brokenness spread like a voracious poison. Pain, shame, anger, envy, jealousy, and bitterness made their entry into creation. God never intended for any of us to suffer. He never wanted us to suffer sickness, bitterness, depression, desperation, hopelessness, or fear but these are natural consequences of human choice. We were given choice and we blew it and we keep blowing it making that ripple effect of pain spread throughout all the future generations.

            I struggled a long time with the scripture stating, ‘children will suffer due to the sins of their fathers’ because I thought it was saying that God would punish and afflict the children of a sinful parent but I have come to understand that this is not the meaning at all. I believe this is what it is really saying; if the father/mother commits sins then the consequences will be felt by the successive generations not as a punishment from God but as a natural consequence of sin. Again, the ripple effect of sin is fearfully awesome in its devastation. Consequently, sin has both immediate and long-term negative ramifications. And lest we become self-righteous and blame those who came before we must stop and think of how many sins we have committed this single day. All sin allows evil into the creation bringing with it pain and suffering; therefore, we must guard against it so that we are not inadvertently hurting our loved ones or those who must bear the weight of our sin in generations to come.  Things may never be okay but you will be given the strength and endurance to create something good from the ashes of suffering, IF you choose that path. 

2 Cor.12:7-10: 7.though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. 8. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.  10. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (NLT)

F.L.A.R.E (Finding Life lessons Amidst Repugnant Experiences)


If you endure or love someone who suffers from one of the chronic and largely invisible diseases which attack the body, then you will be familiar with the concept of a flare. Working on the premise that some may be unaware of this term and the details assigned to it I will attempt to shed some light on the topic. With many chronic destructive diseases there exists a pattern of destruction, which the disease is likely to follow. Many exceptions and variations could apply to the specifics of the disease and to the individual living with the ailment. However, I am offering a general explanation that could be applied across the board noting that there will be exceptions to some of the conclusions offered here.

A chronic disease can be compared to a long expansive road devoid of a recognizable termination point. The person in possession of the disease walks upon this road throughout his life not looking to the right or left but intently concentrating on the vague horizon hoping to define the end point. Each step moves him ever forward upon his journey hoping and praying that his efforts will bring him to the fulfillment of his purpose and a day where pain is not recognized. Each carries with him a pack representing the level of pain, dysfunction, loneliness, happiness, contentment, and joy that he has accepted as his normal level of functioning. When he had first received the news of his disease he had great difficulty finding, adjusting, and then accepting his new norm. Interestingly, those born with a disease develop stronger coping mechanisms because they quickly learn that their norm is in a constant state of flux and that if they want to be functional then they must overcome and adapt to the progression of the disease.  These folks also understand that there is purpose to their suffering and are more likely to find hope and acceptance. He who has been diagnosed later in life struggles mightily against acceptance and adjustment because he has tasted what the world considers a “normal” functioning life. These folks go through an intense mourning period while their lives are systematically dismantled requiring them to initiate reconstruction within the new parameters. This takes enormous effort and fortitude, which cannot be achieved in a brief time frame. Essentially, the “later-in- life” folks are starting their lives over again with much uncertainty and that fills them with great fear.  Those who have never inhaled the air of a normal life adjust and adapt more readily when challenges, such as flares, rear their ugly heads.   Yet, that is not to say that either group suffers more than the other, they just suffer differently.

One of the most disconcerting characteristics of a chronic disease is its persistent progressive element. The very nature of a disease being progressive indicates two sure things, 1. The disease is going to change and, 2. The change will not be for the better. This point of change is usually kicked off by a FLARE, which encompasses an overactive stimulation of the disease. A flare pushes the individual beyond the norm to a point of distress. The elements of the disease are in overdrive and there is little to be done except for the individual to hold on and wait for the frantic ride to end. The type of ailment, the individual, and the trigger of the flare will give designation to its length and destructive force. During this time of flare, the individual is at the mercy of the disease with little or no recourse. A flare pushes the person so far beyond the norm with which they had reconciled themselves to endure that the battle plan holding the disease at bay, fails. All previous treatments, coping mechanisms, and resolve are useless in the face of a flare. A flare can last hours, days, weeks, or even months lacking both rhyme and reason.  Flares put the person in crisis because their entire perspective must be altered in order to survive. When the flare comes to an end, the disease has taken residence upon a higher plateau requiring the individual to accept or reject the new norm of functionality, pain, and overall dysfunction. The road to which they had become familiar and had accepted as the norm no longer exists. The path is now shrouded by a thick fog of uncertainty and includes more inclines, pitfalls, crumbled sections, and toll booths making the journey ever more arduous and seemingly impossible. Additionally, there are several more critics and “well-meaning friends or family” crowding the shoulders of the road eager to offer advice, criticism, or farewells. Yes, because it is difficult to bear witness to the suffering of those we love, some former supporters will choose to walk away reinforcing the solitude and loneliness that accompanies such a journey.

As with all events upon one’s life journey, there exists both positive and negative elements. The negative characteristics and outcomes of a flare are obvious; however, positives do exist and can be identified if the individual is ready to see them. It is these positives that will enable the person to continue their journey. Through a  readjustment of their parameters and assumptions they can form a new norm. Just as some friends and family choose to flee, others will dig in deeper and help you prepare for the coming storms. Some will not only stay by your side but also lend you their strength. In the face crisis, some will leave while others will become your champion. Just knowing they are there offering support and prayers can be the difference between success and ruin. Crisis reveals the very worst and the very best of you and all others who share your journey. It is during these times where wisdom or ignorance can be earned and spread. Of course, during the flare the only thing on your mind is survival but it is in the aftermath where growth can happen, if you are open to it.

Finding Life lessons Amidst Repugnant Experiences becomes critically necessary if you are to move forward. A person with a chronic progressive disease walks a razors edge using their precious energy to cope with the day to day aspects of the disease. The onset, duration, and level of ferocity of the flare have the potential to jettison him or her from their precarious perch of functionality. The available choices are few, yet offer us the foundation of who we really are and the person we want to be. You can give up or become ever more resolved. You can become the embodiment of rage and bitterness or gird yourself in faith and perseverance. You can wallow in self-pity or find the purpose in your pain.  You can listen to the critics or find the truths within yourself.  Or, you can accept the world’s view of you and become disabled. Otherwise, you can work hard to define yourself on your own terms.

After arriving on the other side of a massive flare, you are likely to be floundering for purchase and the best way to gain it is to begin identifying the positives that followed you through the black hole of suffering. There are a multitude of positives but identifying them can prove to be a herculean task. Everything we see, hear, or feel is filtered through the lens of pain and suffering. Additionally, our psyches will be vulnerable to the concept of injustice within our own lives and throughout creation giving opportunity for resentment and discontent to take root. If allowed, these concepts will fester to the point of rot injecting us with acrid bitterness.  If you allow this to occur then your loneliness and self-loathing will become unbearable creating a toxic environment in which happiness and joy cannot exist. This is a very dark environment in which you do not want to dwell lest it consume you. What should you do then? How can this experience be survived with more positive outcomes than negative?

First, identify any new problems resultant from the flare then concentrate on creating a strategy that can be used to combat the new quirks and demands of the disease. Next, formulate a mental tally of everything that you can still do and make any necessary adjustments that will aid you in the pursuit of that which you have set as your life goal. Thank God that the flare was not as bad as it could have been because a flare can ALWAYS be worse. Unfortunately, something is always stolen from you after a flare. The disease can steal a portion of your energy necessitating a recalibration of the things you can accomplish during a given day.    It is also wise to perform a self-inventory of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual changes that possess the potential to complicate or aid your journey. A plausible game plan must be formulated and implemented. A deeper appreciation of the costly expense of time and the limits lying therein must be considered and reconciled. Most importantly, appreciate those in your life who cherish you and let go of the ones who need to leave without allowing resentment or dependence to claim a foothold. These examples of give and take, loss and gain, pain and perseverance barely scratch the surface of the complex amalgamation that is chronic suffering.

In the throes of a full-blown flare there is nothing you can do but hold on with every fiber in your being until it subsides. Yet, it is your choices and actions in the aftermath that will define who you are and who you will become. Anyone can be angry, hateful, and bitter but it takes a hero to choose to become more.

Tina Blackledge, MS

4-30-2013

Wait a sec, hold the phone, put the ponies back in the corral…


 You’ve now had time to digest the information. Actually, you may be more confused and frightened than ever because you may feel as if an information “bomb” has knocked you out of the realm in which you were sure of how things worked. Now nothing makes sense. How could I develop this type of disease? I am far too young. The doc said there was no cure but “we” had plenty of treatment options to try. He said it like it was a good thing but now fear of the known replaces fear of the unknown. You thought a diagnosis would make you feel better and on some level it does but the more you learn the more frightened and disheartened you become. Your friends and family act as if it is nothing serious and you may find yourself beginning to resent their reaction because you are in pain and it is not going away. This isn’t some minor problem, you are going to have this the rest of your life. What was the term the doctor used…progressive? That means…this is going to get worse, much worse but it is not going to kill me? Your mind begins to race again as you try to process this overload and subsequent realizations. What are you going to do? How are you going to work? What kind of future do you have? What is my future going to look like?

            As your good days and bad days hit at seemingly random times, you begin to take note of what circumstances surround each type of day. You quickly find that the weather plays a huge role in your pain. The higher the barometric pressure coupled with the rapidity of the change will dictate whether it will be a day of dread or of your new level of “normalcy”. No one understands that your lifestyle must change. Heck, you are having great difficulty understanding the changes you must make. This is not an easy transition and you will fight it every step of the way. You start off by lying to yourself and ignoring the symptoms until they knock you on your butt because they will not be ignored. You refuse to ride in a scooter type vehicle because those are for “disabled” people and you are NOT disabled…are you? My God, what if you cannot work…will you become a “burden” on society? How will you pay your bills? What kind of insurance do you have?  You are nowhere near retirement age so what are you going to do, how are you going to live? If you have children it becomes more complicated especially if you are the bread winner.

            Depending on how you react to major life stress will dictate the order in which you arrive at the various coping mechanisms. I have found that people who have developed arthritis during childhood have stronger and more effective coping mechanisms in regards to their disease and life in general. People who develop disease onset after a relatively long period of normal activity, say in their 30-40’s, have a much more difficult time accepting and coping with the disease. You see, folks who were essentially born with the disease have never known a day without pain and/or limitation in some fashion. People who have lived their lives with no real incidents of serious health issues experience mourning when they are hit with this type of life altering disease. Likewise, folks who develop arthritis in middle age experience a very active voracious level of the disease. It’s almost as if the disease were making up for lost time. This type of disease is devastating on every level. You will question your faith, your relationships, and your own sanity at times. Nothing is “normal” any longer. Life, as you know it, is over and the journey begins to rebuild your future. There are six stages of grief and you will revisit them time and again throughout the progression of the disease because your mind and soul need answers and when it is faced with the impossible it has to try to make sense of everything. Very soon you will come to a horrific realization. That day in the doctor’s office when you felt relief when told that your ailment was not terminal was borne out of ignorance, for now you realize what he was telling you. People with chronic deteriorating diseases are given a life sentence of torture, ridicule, condemnation, self-defamation, depression, pain, deformity, a constant fight for treatment depending on their socioeconomic level in society and no possibility of release. So what are you supposed to do…give up, give in, and accept societal labels and live down to their stereotypes? No…Hell No!

What is this blog all about?


Have you ever had the flu, injury, or ailment that you thought would never go away? Have you ever suffered to the degree that you earnestly believed that you would be better off dead?  Just when you thought you could not take it anymore, relief came in the form of medication or with your immune system kicking in and fixing the imbalance. Well, think of that time just before you experienced the hope giving relief and you may understand the life of someone who is disabled and/or in chronic pain. Whether you are that person yourself or you know someone who suffers to this degree then this blog might appeal to you. The purpose of this blog is too offer insights I have learned along the way, share stories of faith and hardship, or just to swap positive coping mechanisms.

I have an abundance of experience, knowledge, and education that will help me offer you a compassionate, if virtual, ear. I will offer whimsical stories as well as serious information that will aid you in a various topics. I have been a high school history teacher, a care-taker for a disabled parent (37years) and a therapist (non-licensed). I am a person of great strength of character and resolve , which has helped me overcome a learning disability (dyslexia), physical disability (rheumatoid arthritis from age 5), a person who suffers with chronic pain, and who is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I have earned a BA in history and an MS in human services with a self-concentrated study in childhood abuse and violent sexual predators.

I love painting landscapes with acrylics. I also love animals, children and writing. I am currently writing three books in different genres and for different audiences; however, that takes time and I wanted a more direct and immediate way to help people. As a result, I thought I might try the blogging venue and attempt to help as many people as I can for as long as I am able. So, if you are experiencing any kind of pain (emotional, spiritual, or physical) or know someone who is  then my fervent prayer is to be able to offer you the possibility of understanding and hope.