Tuesday, October 02, 2007

In Pain...

What Steve affectionately refers to as "the coronation" was completed this morning. Yup, I am the proud owner of a brand new permanent porcelain crown, bottom right side, huge molar. It's a beauty. The novacaine is now wearing off, so there is a little throbbing going on. Ouch.

As I sat and waited for my turn in the torture chair, a woman was being checked out by the receptionist. She had a brand new dentist-recommended electric toothbrush. She asked the hygienist if she had to floss AND use her new toy. "Yes, use it in conjunction with the floss." I imagine that she left the office with sore gums, freshly scraped. Ouch.

Daniel, my sweet boy, is home today from school. He called me three times yesterday during the morning complaining of a headache, and finally I offered to pick him up early in the afternoon. He climbed into bed at 1:30 and got up only to go lay in our bed or on the couch for the remainder of the day. Lights out at 8:45 last night, and not much activity this morning. Although he and Kristiana are glad to be together again (kinda like the old days of homeschooling), I can tell that he's not his usual high energy self. Ouch.

But more than that, so much more than that are the friends, whose names I will not mention, who are dealing with soul pain, physical suffering far more serious than a dental crown, financial crises, marital difficulties, and the like.

One friend going through a second divorce.
Another friend also going through a second divorce.
A woman abandoned by her husband, after he declared that he is gay.
A daughter whose mother calls her horrible names and threatens her with physical and emotional harm.
Another daughter whose father denies her love and support. I know far too many young women in this situation.
A woman whose husband has checked out of their marriage mentally, emotionally, physically. Completely gone. His body is present, but his spirit is far, far away.
A husband whose wife suffers from a debilitating disease and is sliding into depression. Another husband in the same situation. These two men watch helplessly.
The two women mentioned above, the two who are suffering so severely.

And then there are the "walking wounded."
Those of us who cannot give a clear description or explanation for what we are feeling these days.
But we are lonely, worried, feeling isolated and misunderstood.
We hardly understand ourselves or what motivates us, so how can we expect anyone else to understand us or even care to understand???
The married ones who wish we were single.
The single ones who wish we were married.
The childless who long for children.
The parents who long for a reprieve from parenthood.
The children caught up in the sandwich generation: raising our children and taking care of our parents. When do we get a break?
The siblings of those mentioned above, the siblings who do nothing to help.
The financially strapped who just want a break from the bills.
The wealthy who want a break from the worry and anxiety.
The healthy who wait for "the bad news" to come.
The ill who long for some good news, anything, but something.

As I drove home from the dentist this morning, poking myself in the jaw, smiling at the oddness of the numbness, I looked around at other drivers, and wondered.

Which of them is returning from a dentist's or doctor's appointment? Bad news and hefty bill in hand?

Which of them is on his or her way to a job interview? All the while, bills pile up and collectors call regularly.

Which of them wonders where his or her spouse is or where the children are? Which of them is running away from the spouse and children?

What untold stories lie just below the surface for each person I see? Whose tears are on the verge of overflowing, in their cars, in the office, behind the dental mask, or in the supermarket?

Then a new line of thought began: I am wasting my time in trying to decide who has what problem.
Face it, Gail; we are all struggling.
We are all in need of grace, of mercy, of prayer, of healing, of help.
We are all in pain.

And, of course, I began to pray.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy on me.
On my family.
On my friends.
On all your people all around the world.
On all the people you have created, those who believe in you and those who don't.
Lord Jesus Christ, please have mercy.

This photo was taken in January in Spain. It was a gorgeous day, as the sky and clouds attest. But the only way to see the beauty of the day was to look up. On that day, at that moment, that wall was "the lifter of my head." Had I looked only at the wall, its density and rocks, I would have missed the glory just above.

These verses seem to fit the image.
Psalm 3:3-5 -

But Thou, O Lord, art a shield for me,
My glory and the Lifter of my head.
I cried unto the Lord with my voice
And He heard me out of His holy hill.
I lay me down to sleep and awake
For the Lord sustains me.

Some days I wish I lived closer to this strong tower. I would run into it often and hide. Within its heavy, stone walls, I could rest and be safe. Don't we all need a strong tower from time to time? Fortunately, there is One.

Psalm 18:1-3 -

"I love Thee, O Lord, my strength."
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;
My Shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
And I am saved from my enemies.

Proverbs 18:10 -

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
the righteous run into it and they are saved.


Lisa said...

The Lord numbers our wanderings and puts our tears into His bottle. Are they not in His book?

-Psalm 56:8

With gratitude for your awareness, compassion, soulful expression and powerful prayers,


Laurie said...

I love the way you write. I so admire the way you can put into words things that float around in my own head trying hard to find their way out. I hope, some day, when we get to heaven we get a chance to "look each other up"!

GailNHB said...

Laurie, I love what you wrote - that someday in heaven we will look each other up. That might be a future blog - a list of people I hope to look up when I get to heaven and what I want to ask them. Thanks for that.

Lisa, your comments are always perfectly timed and worded. One of the most powerful moments of my life was a very weepy night at church back in CT. There was a call for people to come to the altar and pray. I went and wept. A pastor came up next to me and quoted that verse to me. Then he said, "God has collected all your tears in a bottle, Gail." What a revelation. What a moment: God is watching and keeping track. Thanks for the reminder of that night.

Amy said...


I think about those other drivers, too, sometimes when I'm heading down the road. We never know what crosses others bear. A cracked tooth can seem miniscule in comparison (although having lived through a few of those myself, I am certainly not downplaying them!). I'm happy about your "coronation!"

You must try the FGT. I'm not big on fried foods, but fried okra is eaten aound here about once a week!