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.”
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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.

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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