Pain Helps Me

“Wait, my friend told me you have a pacemaker? I have a pacemaker!”

I’ll be honest, that was the last pick-up line I ever thought I’d hear anywhere. Subconsciously, I put my hand over the scar above my collar bone and made eye contact with the inquirer. I call my Vegal Nerve Stimulator a “pacemaker-like thing” to nonmedical people because most people couldn’t care less what epilepsy-related operations I’ve had.

What the heck was I supposed to do with someone who has an actual pacemaker?

Living in a small town affords for random people hearing my medical story from other super random people. Too often, self-made storytellers get my story wrong, though. I come to my quiet coffee shop in the mornings to get some alone time, but there has been more than one occasion where God whispers to my heart, “You and I have all morning. This person needs you.”

Sometimes, I act like I don’t hear Him. That’s when I discover God has a sense of humor as He throws me into super awkward pick-up conversations.

Twice I’ve been set up to chat with people who are still getting their minds around the fact that they need hardware in order to survive. Once, the man had only had his pacemaker for a month. This morning, my random new friend was processing having a pacemaker for a year and still facing complications. 

My story doesn’t feel similar. I’ve been post-operation for eight years now.

If it was up to me, I wouldn’t talk about my pain with these people. First off, I don’t know them. Second off, my pain is regulated and in the background. Their pain is most assuredly in the foreground. It doesn’t seem fair to them to be lumped in the same category. My pain means chest-pain and thirty seconds where I can’t control my head movement. Totally different from people who can’t trust their heart to keep beating.

But, it’s interesting how God shows up despite the fact that these strangers’ facts about my life are inaccurate. I’ve learned to chuckle when I’m asked about my “pacemaker scar” from someone I don’t know. Then, without much effort, I ask the only question I wish people asked rather than asking me if I was, “doing okay, today.” 

“What’s your new normal and how has that new normal made you look for Jesus?”

I sat with a total stranger today and discussed how pain is a conduit for God’s grace, rather than a cause for depression. As I walked away from my newest comrade, she smiled and asked a question I never thought I’d hear.

“Isn’t it weird how our pain makes Jesus’ love show up in a deeper way?” 

Failing to Defend

I let out a little squeal as I opened the package. I wiped away tears as I realized its contents worked perfectly. I shook my head in wonder as I mentally pestered God about the necessity of my purchase. He was apparently honoring my whimsical desire to steward well what little money I had, but the whole scenario made no sense. I had muttered a crazy dream toward His direction one night and He was orchestrating it without my help. I wanted to be excited; but my faith stuttered and I let my logical argument with my Dream-Painting Lord begin.

After all, though my new possession was frugal, well-intentioned and useful, the fact of the matter is, I won’t need the contents of the monstrously large box for… Well, I don’t know exactly when I’ll need it. I just obeyed what I felt God was telling me to do. Only after the purchase was made did I lose confidence in my act of faith and started regretting and worrying about the wisdom of my decision. 

But, I had to remember one thing. I had prayed about it and God had mercifully worked out details which I never would have thought about myself. Apparently, it was the right move. Apparently, God had His reasons for making me do something as nonsensical as ordering something I won’t be using anytime soon. Honestly, barring all leaps of faith and being the doomsday prophet that I am, it’s possible I’ll never use it.

Too often, I forget what I’m responsible for when God calls me to step out in faith. Without even thinking about it, I act as if my act of faith is only important if I can justify it to those around me. Even deeper, I lose confidence in my obedience when I can envision being told my dreams, goals and actions are ridiculous. The moment I hear that, the joy of obedience is lost because I faced opposition.

It’s as if I can hear my Savior saying, “You obeyed Me, Kiddo. You found joy in the unknowns and in the simplicity of watching Me work until you listened to the world that doesn’t understand Me in the first place. You asked me to use you, you begged me to honor your desire to use your resources well. You answer to Me, not them. 

Because of your obedience, if the time comes, I will not fail in defending your decision. I am the Judge that matters.”