5:15 am alarm goes off and I’m ready to start my day. As always, I hit the gym to wake myself up. It’s a Wednesday. I know that because on Wednesdays I do legs. I’ve been lifting and working out for a while but I still don’t enjoy leg day. I muster up the motivation and drag myself to the YMCA. “Only 45 minutes of legs and then you’re done,” I mumble to myself.
I start warming up. Overall I’m feeling good. I feel really strong. I know this is going to be a good lifting day. I dread using the Smith machine but it’s working well enough for squatting. 45 minutes pass by, last set, last rep, the machine doesn’t properly lock and all the weight falls on me. In a millisecond I find myself on my back and clenching my jaw to stop myself from screaming. It’s my back. This is the worst pain I’ve ever felt. I’m swarmed by the others in the weight room. They’re concerned. I’m embarrassed. “Are you okay?”, “Don’t move until we get someone,” “We should call 911” are the things I hear. I’m fine. I’ll get up and prove it to them. I try to maneuver my body in a way that’s less painful, but I can’t get up. It’s all too painful. 911 gets called and I find myself staring at the ceiling inside the ambulance. How did this happen? What have I done?
October 30, 2019 was the day I was sent to the E.R. A diagnosed back sprain and heavy medication followed the appointment, but praise God that I have no spinal damage. Praise God that I can walk. Praise God that I can wiggle my toes. Praise God that I can still snap my fingers. Praise God that I only sprained my back. Praise God.
They’d ask me to rate my pain out of ten and with ten being the worst pain I’ve ever felt, I was between a seven and a nine for the first five days. It was brutal. I laid on the couch and just laid there. I couldn’t move. I would need my housemates to bring me dinner. I had to have them physically sit me up. Accidents are called accidents because it was never supposed to happen, yet I blamed myself for getting hurt.
After the first five days, the pain dropped from an eight to a two in a matter of a good night’s sleep, but I’ve been at a two for weeks now. Now, I have had my moments where I have tried to take it easy at the gym and for the most part I haven’t gone to the gym at all. It’s been hard, but I’ve been patiently waiting for everything to heal. With the plateau in the pain, it makes it difficult to know what things I can and can’t do at this point, but being more on the cautious side, I decided to get it checked out. If everything checks out, I’m guessing I’ll be back at the gym in a week.
Fast forward to November 27, 2019 and I’m back at the doctor’s office.
“I’m referring you to physical therapy. You’ll go to PT for about 4 to 6 weeks. In the meantime, I’m giving you stronger medicine. Take it religiously. Aside from that, just stay out of the gym…you can’t even do yoga at this point.”
My heart broke. I felt myself sink in my chair. I thought I was close to the end of this race. I thought the doctor was going to tell me that I could at least do some stuff at the gym. I can’t even do yoga. I hate yoga, but never in my life have I ever felt more upset about not being able to do yoga. I want to just be able to do something. My heart hurts. Praise God that it isn’t worse. Praise God for that, but I don’t like this.
God, I love you and I trust you, but this sucks. Going to the gym was something I made sure happen six out of the seven days. Yes, I like looking good, but working out was so much more than just looking and being stronger. I can’t even describe how beneficial working out was to my mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. I feel stuck. I’ve felt drained over the last few weeks. All I want to do is go for a run. All I want to do is lift again.
When I look in the mirror, I can tell I’m not as strong. I haven’t had a consistent workout schedule since late October. It’s December now. I haven’t felt self-conscious about my body in a long time, but here I am, self-conscious because all the progress is “being undone”.
I am a high energy person and not being able to gym means I have too much energy…all…the…time. What do I do? I’m too hyper. I can tell. I don’t sleep well because this extra energy means it takes forever to fall asleep. God, I love you but I don’t know how to cope with this.
How do I love God when I’m hurting? How do I praise His name when I’m in pain?
By not being happy all the time. It’s good to acknowledge my emotions. It’s good to talk it out. Just because I know everything happens for a reason doesn’t mean I suppress all those emotions. Truly, I’m really sad that I can’t work out. I am heartbroken. I am in a lot of emotional pain because I can tell I am not as strong. I don’t currently like the way I look. Not being able to relieve energy the way I was able to when I would run sucks. I constantly have too much energy. My college student, who doesn’t get nearly enough sleep, probably wouldn’t mind having “extra” energy, but I tell you that I can’t even focus during certain times of the day because I am overwhelmed with it. I get way too hyper and it makes even listening to a 50-minute lecture ridiculously difficult. It has been really hard. Truthfully, I don’t know how to really cope with all of this pain.
Yet, with all that being said, one thing I do know is that He is greater and I need to remember to put my identity in Him. As much as I think I know the answer to (almost) everything, I am not all-knowing, not even remotely close. I’d like to think that most of the time I am an intentional person. I don’t do things without having a purpose to them and I do what I can to make sure everything goes right. Yet, uncertainty is bound to happen. Accidents are bound to happen. Things change, people change, but He doesn’t. He loves me regardless. He is all-knowing. He is all-loving. He made me in His image. My identity and my hope is in Him. It needs to be. He is never-changing.
How do you love God when you’re struggling? You flood yourself with the truth of Scripture. You remember His goodness, His mercy, His grace & His perfect timing. You remember that God is always with You as it’s talked about in Isaiah 41:10. You remember that He is greater than any trial we will ever face (John 16:33). You remember that the pain you’re dealing with is not even comparable to the glory that we face in Heaven (Romans 8:18). You reflect on the story of Job. You reflect on Jesus’ life. You reflect on the countless amount of figures in the Bible who suffered. Don’t forget the truth in the Bible just because you don’t always get your way. Don’t forget truth in the Bible in the midst of the trials and the suffering. He is greater. He is better.
God, I love you. I thank you for all who You are, all that You’ve done and all that You do even though I don’t deserve it at all. Thank you for my next breath because if I got what I deserved, I’d be dead. I would have been dead a long long time ago. Romans 6:23 confirms that, but God thank you for your grace and your mercy. God, please heal my back. This injury has drained me mentally, emotionally and though I hate to admit, spiritually, too. God, I am tired. I want to work out. I want to heal. This all sucks. But God, my identity is in you. Psalm 139:14 reminds me I have been remarkably and wondrously made. Thank you, God. Thank you. I pray that I can heal smoothly. I pray that I can heal quickly. I pray that I am flooded with Your Word even when it gets hard. God, like Jesus, I ask that you take this pain away from me. Please take it away. Yet, I know Your timing is perfect. Yet, I know there is a purpose to everything. Yet, I know my pain is temporary and nothing compared to the glory of Heaven. Yet not my will, but yours be done. God, I love you and I trust You. Amen.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4