Pain. It’s one of those words that somehow sounds just how it feels. Pain started as something totally disillusioning in my life, and over time, has turned into a constant reminder of grace. Grace with myself because I have new drastic limitations. Grace with others because you never really know what that sad, grumpy person is going through. And grace for my grief, because it comes and goes unexpectedly when old opportunities fade and new ones pass me by.
I grew up believing, like most people, that pain is supposed to be short-term. Hurt myself, heal, rinse, repeat. I don’t know if I will ever forget the words that came out of my doctor’s mouth in my latest post-surgical appointment: “I am so sorry to say, but some of this pain will be your new normal. We just need to figure out what that new normal is.”
It might have been the first time that sentiment was spoken out loud, but that realization has been brewing in my mind for quite some time. It was hiding somewhere deep down in that uncomfortable part of my subconscious that I don’t like to acknowledge until it makes itself painfully obvious (pun intended). Or until a doctor’s words truth-punch me in the gut.
What is my new normal? Having to rest every time I get out of the shower because standing in the heat for fifteen minutes is now incredibly exhausting? Working 5-10 hours a week and spending most other hours in a recliner to prepare for those 5-10 hours? Wondering if my body will be able to carry a child, and if so, wondering if I will be able to hold my child without assistance?
If there’s one thing pain has taught me, it’s this: let it go. Let it all go. Not in the, “I don’t care about any of these things so I will start blissfully singing the ‘Frozen’ theme song” kind of let it go, but the “God is sufficient for my needs no matter the circumstance” mindset. Yes, disability is hard and it makes planning near impossible, but my Father has gone before me and He knows how my story progresses. My physical disabilities have led to a greater ability to trust that God has compassion for the broken-hearted, and that no pain is wasted when it is used to encourage others. And because He knows and has allowed the path I am on, my new normal will be enough.