We All Want A Pain Pill

As a doctor much of my days were spent hearing about the pain and suffering of people. The older we get the more things go wrong with our bodies. We have more aches, more pains and more illnesses. Then there are those that have had health issues since they were children. They are no stranger to suffering. Very few people go through life without suffering.

In the family I grew up in we were taught to endure pain. We were taught to be tuff. Not wine and just take it. Mind over matter. If you do not think about the pain then it becomes more numb. This actually does work to some degree. In Christian circles there is the concept that suffering produces in us character, hope and endurance. Thus I have heard comments from well meaning Christians that say suffering is “good” for us.

As I filter through all of the things I have been taught from the time I was a child to my time working as a doctor I have had to take a step back and ask the question “how does God view suffering and how does that mean the body of Christ should address suffering?”

Suffering is the result of our fallen world. Suffering did not originally exist. God does not CAUSE our suffering. But he allows it just like he allows natural disasters. It is a result of the brokenness of our world. God does not like suffering. But he does work through our suffering. Suffering is not good in itself but God does often use it to bring about goodness. Suffering is not from God. But suffering is a very real part of our world. I like to think of it as a war. No one goes through a war without injuries. Especially if you are an active player.

This brings me to the place of asking how should we as Christians deal with suffering. We as Christians should attempt to alleviate suffering when possible. There is only so much we can do. But one of the roles of us christians is to fighting suffering. This is one of the main reasons I went into medicine rather than research. I wanted to help people.

We as Christians have to learn to endure suffering because we will never fully escape suffering in this life. But we should also be working to prevent, alleviate and stop suffering when possible. Similarly we should never purposefully cause suffering. Do we mess up and sometimes cause suffering. Yes, we are humans who mess up but when possible we should attempt to stop, alleviate and prevent suffering in the first place. It is not only healthcare professionals that work to alleviate suffering. It is all of us. Suffering can come from so many places. What area can you work to alleviate suffering? If you do not know pray Jesus will show you? Amen.

Oh My Goodness, What did I just do?

If I could count the number of times I have looked down and realized I made some type of mistake, well let’s just say there are to many to count. One of the issues I have is I am so afraid of messing up that I can never move forward. Then I finally move forward and I screw it all up. It then reinforces the desire to withdraw, isolate myself and never try again. I have had to learn how not to completely have a melt down when I screw up. Similarly I have had to learn that if the people around me are not willing to work with my screw ups then maybe I need a new team.

It does not matter who you are. You can be the greatest gymnast, the best doctor, the most wise pastor or the president. No person walks through life without looked down and going oh no!!! What did I just do? Given I have a mental disability this seems to happen to me way more than other people. Particularly when I am not feeling well. It is frustrating but has taught me so much humility and how to have grace for myself. With learning to have grace for myself I have learned to have more grace for other people.

When I was a child and I made a mistake I was often discipled, reprimanded or yelled at. I did not always deal with this well emotionally. As a adult I tended to have a similar view of God. If I made a mistake God was going to send some bolt of lightning to strike me down. Or I would think that my suffering was punishment for some mistake. I took the behaviors I learned from my parents and transferred this to God the father. This is often what we do. When we view God the father we often transfer certain ideas we made based on our human father. Thus my view of God the father was distorted.

It took me many many mistakes, mess ups and ooh my goodness moments to fully get it through my head that my God the father was actually smiling down on my mess ups with joy, happiness and pride. When you have a child that is learning to ride a bike for the first time they fall many times. A loving father would pick the child back up, brush off the dirt and say here try again. The father would not yell, belittle or punish the child for falling. Of course the child fell.

I have had to learn that God is very much ok with me messing up. He expects it. He allows it and he works through it for his glory. God cares that my heart is in the right place. As long as my heart is in the right place I should have no fear or anxiety of falling, failing or messing up. This is where I find my freedom to move forward. This is part of what having faith in my Heavenly Father means to me. My faith in him means he will work all things to his glory when I am seeking first the kingdom of God. Similar, God never wants me to hidden in the closet in fear. Even when I am at my sickest, I should never be isolated, hidden or alone. Neither should anyone else. But I am also reminded that it is the role of others more experienced to guide others so that mistakes are minimized and contained. When we are left without oversight people fall but they may not get back up. Amen.

Dealing with Anger At God

If you have never felt angry at God You must either not believe he exists, be perfect like Jesus or have a perfect life. When humans experience something negative like pain, illness, grief or sadness it is a natural reaction to feel angry. It means you are human. I would say that if you do not experience anger then it is unhealthy. That is not normal. When we humans feel angry we place that anger on either ourselves, other people or God. If you have anger you have to have something to be angry at.

My personal tendency is to first be angry at myself. As I have aged and noticed that being angry at myself is not really a good thing so I start to transition my anger to my husband and God. This is natural. My husband is gracious towards me and repeatedly I have felt like God has said it is ok. If you want me to be your punching bag go right ahead. I am God. I can take it. My grace is enough for you. Just do not walk away.

At the end of the day when I work through my grief and anger I come to terms with my reality and am reminded who I should really be angry at is the brokenness of our world. When I defer my anger to the brokenness of our world it helps me see through my anger so that I can see ways in which I can work for God to help mend that brokenness. That is ultimately what we should be doing.

The brokenness of our world is what causes discrimination, poverty, illness, crime, abuse, etc. We should not be mad at ourselves. We should not be mad at other humans. We should not be mad at God. We should be mad at the brokenness. Let your anger give you clarity so that you can find a way to fight the brokenness. Ultimately that is what Jesus did. What area of brokenness can you fight against? Maybe that should be part of your ministry. Amen.

The World Verses the Body of Christ

The American culture is very individualistic. We hold the individual in high esteem. Similarly in the family I grew up we were taught to be independent and self sufficient from a young age. It is good to be independent and self sufficient for this encourages people to accomplish tasks using there own skills, knowledge and abilities. It is always good to teach someone how to fish rather than giving them a fish. It is dangerous to make people to dependent on others. But we have to also realize peoples limitations. Living a life that you only rely on your own skills is not only stressful but isolating. Similar systems are always able to accomplish more than an individual. I learned a lot about systems and people working interdependently through my training as a doctor.

In medicine we give all the credit to the doctors but the doctor can not operate without a system to help them. The doctor is very limited without the systems help. Furthermore, the doctor will get burned out and unable to maintain the work load without others assistance. You have administrative staff, medical assistants, nurses, receptionist, physical therapist, counselors, etc. It takes team work.

The body of Christ is supposed to be like this. A well oiled team. Where people bring to be table different skill sets, abilities and interests to creat a system to glorify, worship, honor and serve God. When people in the church do not work together as a team they become like the world. They are just a single individual trying to survive on there own. This is dangerous and hard.

Can God use someone by themselves? Yes. But I do not think it wise and you will miss the blessing that the body of Christ should be to us followers of Jesus. Finding a body of Christ that you fit into is often challenging. But I believe God has a place in the body of Christ for every one of his sheep. Find the flock you belong to and if you do not have one pray God will guide you to the right place in his timing. But do not give up looking. Because he has a flock for each of his children. Amen

Well What Is Your Solution????

Most people have had some type of negative experiences with the Christian church. When I think through situations I have experienced or others stories one of the common trends I hear is Christians offering advice with no solution. Someone says it is wrong to do something but they do not offer an alternative. Many times people sin not out of desire to sin but out of no alternative. If someone tells you not to do something but they never teach what you are supposed to do then it is human nature and natural to keep doing what you know. I feel like this is one reason God gives us humans so much grace. If you had a child that was doing something they were not supposed to do but they had never been taught different wouldn’t you have grace for them?

I would go as far as to say if you cannot offer a solution to the problem than do not even bother bringing up the issue in the first place. When I first started talking to people about my struggle with an eating disorder I had many people do just that. They said don’t do that but they offered no solution. The first person a told didn’t even really listen to me and said a quick prayer. The next person said just eat some more, you are skinny enough. When I shared with someone I was seeking treatment they responded with that is just a waste of money. Why don’t you just eat. My mother tried to talk me out of treatment, she said you do not need help. None of the responses did any good other than maybe the prayers which help God lead and guide my way.

More recently my husband and I have shared with several individuals our struggle over whether we should have children at all and if so how because it is not in my medical best interest to carry a child. Thus we have discussed alternative options. I find it interesting that it is people outside the church that are most helpful, understanding, compassionate and supportive. Within the church I have been told many things such as it is my duty as a women to have children and I am failing at that duty. I have been told I do not have enough faith, that the right thing to do would be to act in faith to carry a child against medical advice. I have been told my husband should leave me for another women. Not one Christian we have shared about this issue has asked for further explanation of why I have reservations about children or offered to help with the issue.

These are just 2 examples of many but my point is if someone at church is brave enough to share a struggle, then you should offer to pray, show compassion/empathy and try to offer a real solution. Do not judge, do not condemn and if you have no actual solution maybe you should find the solution or point them in the direction of someone who can help them find the solution. But do not condemn or shame or tell someone to change without offering a solution to the change. It is a good thing I love Jesus or I would have walking away from Christianity a long time ago. We as christians should be reflecting Christ not turning others away from Jesus. Amen

Why we Practice

When I was a gymnast I spent hours upon hours training and practicing. Why did I train and practice? Well first of all I liked gymnastics. I liked training. I wanted to be in the gym. But I also practiced so that I could perform and compete. I wanted to be competitive. No one ever forced me to do gymnastics. Actually quite the opposite my father in particular was not a fan of my gymnastics when I was a child. He had concerns about the amount of hours I spent in the gym and the potential negative effects on my body. No one ever forced me to practice. I choose to practice.

There are many “practices” we do in the Christian Faith. We pray, we study, we serve, we got to church, we spend time in community, etc. Are these “practices” necessary to be a Christian and go to heaven? No. There is no way of earning our salvation. Salvation is a free gift we receive through repentance of sin and belief of In Jesus. It is a choice not a practice.

Did I have to practice for 20 hours in the gym to be considered a gymnast. No. I could call myself a gymnast just by doing one single cartwheel. But I practiced 20 hours a week for other reasons.

The practices we do in the Christian Faith are not to earn our ticket to heaven. Rather the practices we do in the Christian Faith are to be healthier, love God, love other people and in those practices we get to experience the fruits of the spirit while still here on this earth. We practice things in the Christian Faith because of the positive benefits to ourselves, others and God. It is not about earning our salvation.

Thus I practice my faith because it brings we hope, Joy, love, peace, freedom, redemption and a sense of fulfillment in this hard life on earth. I practice my Christian Faith because I desire to, not because I have to.

It is Not Good to Be Alone

In the very beginning God said that it was not good for man to be alone, so he made women. Thus we had the first marriage between Adam and Eve. For thousands upon thousands of years man and women have come together in marriage. Furthermore Jesus had a lot to say about marriage. Similarly in most all cultures and religions marriage is held in high esteem. In our modern world the breakdown of marriage and family is one of the biggest challenges we face. The consequences of broken marriages are often disastrous for all those involved. Marriage is important to the function of so many things in our world, it is often challenging and the breakdown of marriage is never without consequence.

Basically marriage is important to us as humans but it is also important to God. In the family and culture I was raised in marriage was something you did when you were an adult and preferably after you finish education and were able to stand on your own two feet. Marriage was about sexual attraction, romance, having children and living a happy abundant life. But similarly I myself was terrified of marriage because of the breakdown of marriage and unhealthy situations I had witnessed in others. I was afraid of ending up in a similar situation and felt like it was better to be single then in an unhealthy marriage.

I longed for the companionship of marriage. I longed for a stable person in my life who would journey with me yet I was so scared of ending up in a situation that was abusive. So I tried to prepare myself for marriage as a single young women. I studied what God said about marriage. I studied to understand God’s purpose for marriage. It was through this time I learned the God’s purpose for marriage is about so much more than what I was taught growing up.

God designed male and female. He designed them to be united to become one flesh. God knew that his creation was incomplete as a single for we are made in the image of God. When man and women join as one they are more equipped to accomplish the tasks God has for us. God created us for marriage in order for us to glorify him. He created us for marriage so that we could be fruitful and multiply. God created us for marriage so that we could sanctify and purify each other.

Does this mean you have to be married to serve God and have a meaningful life? Absolute not. God can use all circumstances to his glory but he wants to bless us with marriage to make this life on this earth a little easier. Singleness is a hard life. But I am also reminded that those in the Bible that where single and unmarried yet served the lord always had a companion. They always went out in twos. Singleness should not mean isolation. Everyone needs a companion for survival. I am thankful for the women who served as my companions before marriage and I am thankful for my husband who serves as my companion now. But no child of God should be in isolation.

Marriage is a beautiful gift God gave to humanity. When Jesus is made the center and both individuals are united in Christ then God is glorified. So I pray for all the marriages out there today, that God would bless your union and work to show you the true meaning of your marriage. For those who are single I pray God would bring you a companion so that you would not be in isolation. Amen.