Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Remembering to Breathe

I like reading other people's blogs - I have rather long list of blogs that I check with frequency that depends on how often those people tend to update their blog/how often their blog is interesting.

I read the blog of one Mr. Longbrake, partially for the lovely photos and partially because I think a lot of what he says is bunk - but fascinating bunk.

This is his latest post, uncharacteristically short:

"Of the few things I feel I have begun to learn in the last year, one of the most profound to me has been this: It is ok to suffer. It ok to be in the midst of pain and hurt and to simply sit under it. I (and you) do not have to push the everything is fine appearance all the time. I have discovered that covering up pain and burying it can be altogether much more detrimental to my soul in the long run. And because of this, I must not only accept pain, but in some way embrace it."

Not an original thought. I remember when I was in highschool Nicole Nordeman came out with her first cd and her songs "Burning" and "Why?" made my friends and I stop and say, "What?" because they weren't the typical Christian answers to pain - at a time when the typical answers had really stopped being effective for us.

On the other hand it frustrates me when people talk about just going ahead and letting ourselves hurt, as if we had some choice in the matter.

It reminds me of being 12 years old with a broken leg and facing surgery and everyone kept telling me how brave I was, as if I'd chosen a broken leg. As if I'd chosen to have a tumor.

And its kind of funny, really, because I was very good at getting out of things I didn't like. I manipulated and lied my way out of uncomfortable situations and I remember waking up the day after I broke my leg, in so much pain that I had spent all night dreaming about pain, and all I could think was, "I can't get out of this one. I can't make God fix my leg."

So the idea that I was somehow brave in taking on this broken leg, it made me laugh even as a 12 year old and the grown-ups never seemed to understand why.

Years later I spent my college fall break in the hospital waiting room while my little sister had a brain biopsy to determine exactly how maglignant her inoperable brain tumor really was.

Before my sister had gone into surgery my parents had, had the pastor in to pray for her. After the prayer Holly demanded that our younger sister Bethany do a magic trick she had been practicing for sometime.

"Everyone always says, 'I need that like I need a hole in the head,' well..." Bethy started, before appearing to pop a quarter in the top of her head and cough it out up again second later, "My doctor hates it when I do that," she finished.

Holly, Bethany, Daniel and I laughed like anything and our parents and pastor smiled uncomfortably before asking us why we were laughing so hard at the fairly lame joke. Holly rolled her eyes and laughed again, "I need a hole in my head."

The adults remained mildly confused as my sister demanded funny stories from each of us. The nurses loved my sister, she was in excruciating pain, facing cancer and maybe death, but always cracking jokes. It wasn't being brave. It wasn't embracing pain. It wasn't burying it either. My sister loves to laugh. She couldn't do anything about what was in the center of her brain. If she could have opted out I have no doubt that this is what she would have done.

Do we really have to embrace pain?
Is there some need to experience it as fully as we possibly can?

I think we embrace our pain a little too much. We cling to it and we take it out an examine all the little nuances and cry over them.

That's kind of natural. When I broke my leg I instinctively would hold my breath and grit my teeth whenever the doctor's moved it to wrap it or x-ray it. More pain was on its way and I was bracing myself (they dropped my broken leg three times while I was in the hospital - I'm lucky I still have a leg). But the doctors kept telling me, "You need to breathe, it hurts less when you breathe."

Its true kids. The doctors will spout some kind of smart sounding business about oxogyn flow, but I think its because when you're in that kind of pain you have to concentrate just to keep breathing and when you're focused on breathing you can't focus on the pain.

I think that's true in life. It is going to hurt - you can't change that. You can't make God take it back.
Don't forget to breathe.


Robin Marie said...

I think it's important to acknowledge pain. Yes, it hurts. There's not usually much you can do to CHANGE it, you can only put it off for awhile. The thing with putting something off is that when it comes back, it's often worse.

Melody said...

Well sure, you can't pretend it isn't there, but it isn't like you can put it off either.

Its there whether you acknowledge it or not.

Jonathan Erdman said...

And what sites do your frequent when you want to disagree with someone's theological views?

Melody said...


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