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Last Year- past the end of my rope.

January of last year I found out I was expecting our second child. I was half excited and half terrified, my dream and my dread all wrapped up in one.

New Years Eve of 2015 I had prayed more earnestly than that whole year before that I would conceive again. It was the first time I wanted another baby more than I wanted to escape pain. I prayed, and believed God would answer that prayer in the following year. It was the end of a hard year. Over three hard years. I had so much physical pain with my first pregnancy, and that pain was only just starting to fade three years after my daughter was born. Pain that stabbed me every time I walked and prevented me from doing so much of life. Pregnancy causes severe back and pelvic pain for me, and experience told me that healing from it and getting back to life was a nearly impossible task.

That New Year’s Eve I wrote:

“I don’t know that I’ve ever been so low
As this year
Or as high,
It was a battle knowing no retreats
Though bombs like rain
Fell from the sky.”

I was still scared that God would answer my prayer for a baby at the end of a year in which I battled so hard and was left weary, needing rest. If He did, how was I going to survive it? I was so spent with pain, so ready to move beyond it, yet I wanted another child so desperately. I ended that poem praying:

“Here I am- empty without You,
Take me up
Upon Your shoulder bear,
This year I pray you will surprise me
But You must carry my care.
Be it dark
Provide for me a spark-
Be it bright
Then dance me in that light.”

Praise be to God He answered my prayer, and swiftly! At the end of January we found out we were expecting. He is a good God. But how could I suit up for battle when I already felt as if my limbs hung weak and injured, my mind dull, emotions wasted, and my heart drained? My strength was so small and the trial was just beginning. But the pain, it came so fast, and I knew it was only going to get worse. I wrote at its onset:

“The pain is coming,
Already it starts,
How can the victim
E’re prepare the heart?
The pain is coming
Already it grows,
I’ve known before and
It is worse to know.

Vain is the effort
Useless to prevent
The body’s breaking
I can’t circumvent.
I wish a sliver
Of light would prove wrong
The thickening clouds
And break out with a song.”

Then, it was my last short walk of the year, as the pain was becoming too difficult.  It was maybe two months into the pregnancy, and I was angry. Angry and scared. For the first time in my life I was afraid of losing my faith. Yes, me the Calvinist. I sat down on a bench, looked up at the gray sky and prayed, pleading with God that He would not allow me turn away. You can read the whole poem “Blessings in Those Dreaded Clouds” here, which I wrote about this time, but for the purpose of this blog I’ll share pieces:

“Rage at that night?
Or know defeat?
Both these efforts
Sorely beat.”

God made me aware of my options. I can rage, or I can be defeated. If I choose either of those paths I will only be further beaten down. There was a better option, and that was to bow. Here is a piece of my conclusion, or what God did for me on that bench.

“I swallowed then
My pride to slay,
And bowed, for God
Holds my way.

“I’ll trust Him in
The storm” I said
And broke blessings
On my head
And out they poured
As rich and bright
As ever seen
Stars at night-

That goodness seen,
That kindness felt,
Undeserving
Heart to melt,
The peace of God
Who can explain
Joy filled hearts in
Pelting rain?

That hope that blooms
Pure in the pain?
Hope undefiled
Without stain?

… One day these clouds
Will split and light
Return and end
This long night.

Till then I’ll sing
And waiting sigh
With eyes peeled
To the sky…”

I made a decision there that I would not be angry with God. I know, you cower at the notion that someone could be such a fool as to even entertain the concept of being angry with God. I was a fool, and have been a fool many, many times.

Proverbs 26:12 “Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”

Thank God there is hope for fools who see the error in their way and cast themselves on a merciful God. If not for Him… where would I be?

I felt as though I was almost destroyed last year. I think people thought I was strong, but I was living an entire year with the figurative “end of my rope” so far behind me, frayed and burnt up, it seemed at times there wasn’t any way to ever climb up out of the pit I was in. I was in physical pain- yes. So much so I couldn’t look after my own daughter, or set the table, or go out for dinner, or run an errand, or sit in a regular chair at church. It was a year of walking sticks, and walkers, and even a wheelchair if I wanted to go anywhere that involved more than a few minutes of walking. That pain tormented me, but it was not worse than the spiritual and emotional hurdles I had to overcome each day. Never have I felt more broken down, reduced, down trodden.

I sang hymns every day. I read my bible every day. I prayed. I bowed. I didn’t get angry at God. I clung to hope in Jesus like my life depended on it because it did. But I also struggled every day, and of a depth that I still fear and pray I will never have to return to. It was very dark, but it gave way to light.

When I think about returning to this blog, I always come back to the thought that I need to share this poem. I wrote it about three weeks before my beautiful baby girl was born- oh my beautiful girl! Can I pause to say she reminds me that all our earthly suffering is not even worth being compared with the glory that is to come (Romans 8:18)!? To even make a comparison would be lunacy. To ask if the pain was worth it does not even enter my head. Last year’s pain, though I still cannot think of it without tears, holds nothing on the joy of having her. But I have been side tracked.

The poem. It is the most accurate reflection I have of last year. Sometimes people would tell me I was an example of faith. That I was always smiling, always positive. In honest, I don’t know how else to be in person, but I would often think, “if you saw me when the people leave, and the doors are shut, you might not think I am such a good example.” And so I wrote this poem. I guess, its a difficult poem, but I don’t know how else to move forward in writing without being honest. I think it sums up what it is like to cling to hope when beyond the end of your rope, and yet- Christ who is faithful, who would not let this sinner fall away, brings those barely holding on safely through the storm to shore. Praise be to His Name.

An Example Out of Me

An example out of me.
What example can I be?
Did you see
When my hands out-grasping
Shook with want
And fell distressing
Empty, bare, and weak with care?

Did you see
When my legs were tied?
And thrown off a cliff I flied
Out over the edge of sane
And seeing there deadly terrain,

“Oh God, those rocks like jagged ice
Will slice me through,
If not for You.”

An example out of me?
Pleading there for sanity-
Even a small bit to keep,
When after the whole day I weep.

An example when I ache
Not only since my body breaks,
But since terror fills my lungs,
Seizing me with fiery tongues.

An example- why?
For still alive?
A song said “we were made to thrive.”
It sounds so nice
But such a sham
When just surviving’s
What I am.

But then I think-
All this and still
I wake up and exert my will
To rise, and sit
And bear with it,
While speaking unto my own mind
“Be patient still
And still be kind,”
While plunking on my lap
God’s word
Where grief and hope will both
Be stirred,
While praying to example be
Though every hour
Thrashes me.

While secret tears wash my face new
Before I grin to go greet you,
While leaning only on the Christ,
The only perfect sacrifice.

And if His blood does sure prevail
Hurricanes can’t rend my sail.
An example can I be?
When clinging I come through the sea?

Psalm 145:14 “The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.”

I am hoping this serves as an explanation of where I’ve been all of this time, and I hope my point is clear- only through Christ can we persevere, overcome, and land victorious on the other side of trials and of this life. We fall and He lifts us up. He sees fit to use us as examples even when we are broken down and very weak. He does it by His power, and for His glory. I am still struggling to make sense of all the things I have experienced, and learned, and failed to learn. My daughter Liza is already nine months old in a few days, and I am hoping to get back to some writing, so welcome back to the blog and God bless.

One thought on “Last Year- past the end of my rope.”

  1. Hi Charlene- thank you so much for your honest words and reflection! I, too, have been struggling with lower back and hip pain from SI Joint dysfunction for over 2 years, unable to walk more than short distances and being in pain, sometimes unbearable everyday. But God is working on my heart in ways He couldn’t without this trial. Thank you for your post. Praying that God would giveth more grace for your daily needs as you care for yourself and family each day.

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