Attempting to go on vacation when you have chronic pain feels a little bit like playing Russian Roulette. You spin the cylinder, randomly picking a date. You place the gun to your head, making the reservations and setting plans in place. And then you pull the trigger, heading out the door, unsure if it will be a hit or a miss.
This weekend we played the game and lost.
We tried to go on a fifth anniversary getaway, and for lack of a better term, it was a disaster from the start. Everything that could have gone wrong did, and I was in no state to manage even minor inconveniences well in the midst of an unexpected flare. I was in too much pain to have fun even though we planned the most relaxing and passive vacation possible. The plan was to drive to a hotel and spend the evening with room service, a pay-per-view movie, and drinks. Turns out it was one of those nights where even lying in bed felt unbearable.
Times like this bring out the worst in me. I begin to see the extent of my anger, bitterness, irritability, and general lack of peace and contentment with my situation. When my weeks consist of only home, work, and church, I can become temporarily lulled into a state of blissful ignorance where I forget, to some extent, how much goes on without me. Then I leave the comfort of my home and see so many people happily and actively going about their business. People who decide they want to do something and then just do it. People who walk through the city uninhibited, go out to eat without fear, swim at the pool without resting in advance, practice yoga without injury, and can actually move well enough to dance at a wedding. In my isolation, I sometimes forget that most people live their lives so uninhibited.
Today I am attempting to deal with my bitterness, anger, and jealousy, but it is not going too well yet. These emotions are surging through me, and I just want to look to the sky and shout obscenities. Because the “unfairness” of this pain is really getting to me today. Most days I trust even in the midst of misunderstanding, but for today, I am asking God, “why me”?
And I am ok with asking these questions. I look to the book of Job, how he handled his suffering, and how God responded to him. Job cursed the day he was born, wished for death, groaned and grieved his rawest feelings to God, and lost all hope for a time. Job cried, “I loathe my life; therefore I will give free reign to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul” (Job 10:1). Yet at the end of his suffering, God commended Job and reproved Job’s friends for their words and responses to his suffering. And even more comforting, God was always present, behind the scenes, in control of what did and did not befall Job.
I am free to voice my complaints, questions, and misunderstandings to God, but I must not abandon my core belief that even if I do not understand, there is a sovereign God behind life’s mysteries and confusion. Russian roulette is a game of chance, but my life has been planned in advance. Planning a vacation feels like gambling with probabilities, but there is purpose in life’s smallest details. I do not have any answers today, and I am too exhausted to try and find them. Other days, when I am less tired and hopeless I will continue searching. But for today I can only rest knowing that God loves me, cares for me, and calls me His own.