I want to talk about the journey I’ve been taking with Job. But first, I think I need to give some backstory.
I think it’s important to say before I begin that I don’t know if all I’m going to discuss is “sound” spiritual stuff. I don’t think it’s all Sunday School perfect. Not everything I discuss or say is what I truly believe, but it’s all stuff I’ve been working through. This blog is really about the journey—about honestly sharing what I am going through, happy and sad, in the hopes that it might help someone else, or at least encourage discussion. So this in an honest portrayal of what has been one of the most spiritually challenging times in my life so far.
The day I thought my middle finger collapsed, right before I was to leave for my semester in England, was in many ways the worst day of my life.
It feels trivial to claim something so dramatic for a day when something I thought happened didn’t happen and it worked out okay by the end of the week. Let me try to explain a little.
My hands are falling apart. I have not come to terms with this, and probably will not for a long time still. I bought time with surgeries. I made sacrifices, went through ordeals, had my crying sessions in the car and my therapy sessions after the surgeries.
Study abroad, in my heart, was like paradise. It was an escape, a respite. While studying abroad, I would not see any specialists. I would only have a little bloodwork. I could get out of the stress of work, have a light course load, plenty of time for writing, and plenty of time to not deal with health trauma. Study abroad was going to be my Rivendell before the journey on to Mt. Doom.
As the time approached, I was surprised that it was coming together. I was actually going to go. I don’t think I really believed it until that last week before I left.
Then it happened.
My finger bent and froze, just like the left pointer finger did when it collapsed. I really don’t think I overreacted in assuming that the joint had collapsed. I knew exactly what it felt like from my experience before. If there had been any ray of hope in me—and I am an optimistic person, sometimes painfully so—I would have entertained it. If there had been any doubt in my mind, I would have clung to the doubt. But my middle right finger had collapsed in exactly the same way my left pointer did last June.
So when I looked down at my hand that Sunday afternoon, and saw my finger bent and frozen, it wasn’t just that my bought time hadn’t worked. It wasn’t just that my middle finger would probably have to be fused bent, a surgery that would likely prevent me from leaving. It wasn’t just that my nightmares were suddenly real. It was the realization that there would be no Rivendell for me. I would never escape my body’s decay. I was not protected. I was…
I don’t know how to put what that was like into words. I think I remember sobbing, “What do I do? What am I supposed to do?”
It’s terrible. It’s like those nightmares were you cry, trying to claw your way out, and are exhausted when you finally wake up. But this time you don’t—you don’t wake up.
That night, after the finger had straightened out, my dad came in to pray over me like he did when I was a little girl. It was a sweet, nostalgic sort of moment. But as he thanked God for protecting me, the only part of my heart that wasn’t too exhausted to feel fluttered to life. I was angry. And as people started commenting on Facebook and around, expressing their gratitude, I got angrier.
Yes, it was great that my finger didn’t collapse. But I had to live through thinking it had. And I’ll have to live through it again, when it really does, which could be today or in a year. God protected me physically. But I had to live through it, and I’ll have to live through it again and again. I wasn’t protected from that pain.
(“Oh, but you brought that one on yourself, missy!” says my interpretation of critics in my head. “You courted that worry and claimed ownership for that tragedy!” To you, I would say, “When you have your finger show all the symptoms of collapsing on the eve of a trip you’ve wanted to take for years—when you have sat through tests and bloodwork and surgeries and you finally have a respite in sight—when it appears you’ve lost the use of one of your fingers—when you’ve lost something you didn’t think you could lose—then tell me how to not feel these things. Tell me how to not be human anymore. Because, really, I honestly want to know.”)
That night, after my dad prayed over me, I picked up Job.
The following posts will discuss what I found.