Thursday, April 16, 2009

With the Bad Comes the Good

I met a lady the other day at work (my nursing job) whose feet were red and slightly deformed.  She required a cane to walk, or hobble as it were, and she told me as I walked along beside her, "I have neuropathy."  

"I'm so sorry.  Does it hurt." I replied back.

"No.  That's the problem." she said in a discouraged tone.  "I can't feel my feet and they get more numb by the day.  I can barely walk now."

The conversation stuck with me throughout the day and here I am blogging about it two days later.  Why?  Because as someone who has dealt with pain issues this past year, the idea of getting to be numb is intriguing.  Wouldn't my life be SO much better if I couldn't feel anything at all in my "trick hip," as I call it.  Wouldn't that be my ultimate relief, in a perfect world?

Not so much.  As I pondered this little lady's condition, it occurred to be that numbness is a double edged sword.  Sure, she doesn't feel pain, but she also can't feel pleasure...a foot massage, cool fescue grass between her toes, playful tickling, a hot foot soak with tingly lavender and mint.  What's more, she can't detect those little signals her body sends her that say your foot is hurt, you have a wound you need to tend to, this water is too hot for you to be in, etc...  And perhaps the worst part of her state is that she is losing her freedom; something must of us take for granted daily...simply walking from point A to point B.

Chronic pain isn't just limited to the physical realm.  How many of us have endured something painful, scarring, utterly life changing (and not for the better) that we wish to NEVER think about?  How many of us have a memory so hurtful to us, we'd do anything to block it out?  We'd do anything to protect ourself from the power it holds on us?  Maybe we busy ourselves to distraction, find solace in a bottle or a little pill with a lot of punch, or lose ourselves in relationships that aren't good for us.  The "mind numb-ers" are endless, but all yield the same thing...emotional anesthesia; essentially insensitivity to pain.

Perhaps what is true of the sweet little lady I met, is true for all pain.  If we are numb to the pain, we can't feel the pleasure either...  With the bad comes the good.  With the bad comes those warnings we desperately need to heed.  With the bad comes a greater appreciation for the good.  And perhaps the most poignant thing of all (to me anyway) is that with the bad comes an increased need to seek something (or Someone, in my case) higher and bigger than us.  

I have never been so dependent on Christ as when I am in pain of any kind, so honestly how can I not embrace the pain and be thankful for what it opens me up to?  Because this is a very good thing.

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