The Job of Surviving

And five months after I redesign my blog, I’m back!

I would say that I took a break, but in reality, I took up too many responsibilities. Practically all of them related to my degree. This past semester, being a full-time student meant taking five classes, on top of a 300-hour internship that required 20 hours per week, including spring break. On top of that, I continued my part-time job of ~10 hours per week, so that I can have a place to live. Not being homeless while I study social work is a good thing. But having all of these responsibilities complicated my life 1000%.

On top of ALL of that, my body continued to fall apart, especially at the beginning of the semester–the PERFECT time to get behind on all responsibilities. I had multiple shoulder dislocations that kept me bed-bound, when I had many other things to do. Throughout the remainder of the semester, I regularly dealt with my body shutting down from shoulder pain, whether through my inability to sit upright or nausea from the intensity of the pain.

So I decided to do something to prevent being dysfunctional when I need to be high-functioning: I got an arthrogram/MRI and saw two doctors to get their opinions, and I went with a new doctor for orthopedic surgery #3.

Since I am familiar with the process of recovery, I think the biggest shock this time around has been the gradual change of pace to reach this point. I went from working to the point of exhaustion every day AND THEN either studying how to solve people’s problems or actually solving people’s problems, to being disabled by surgery. I went from offering help to needing help.

This life has a lot slower pace. The alarms I set now are reminders to take medicine or do PT. Most of my time over the past two weeks has been occupied with pain management and side effect management of medication. Although it doesn’t sound as intense as my schedule before surgery, I feel as if I am working equally as hard as before. The difference is that my work now seems self-centered and extremely time-consuming. It’s difficult to imagine the eternal significance of this period of life.

During the time that my shoulder was beginning to get worse (before surgery), I “attended” a virtual conference for believers with chronic illness. One speaker taught on the following verse, with applications for those struggling to balance chronic illness and living for the LORD.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:58

Right now, it feels like my daily labor of rehab is in vain. And, in all honesty, one day, in this lifetime, it may be; due to my hypermobility, there is a higher likelihood that this surgery could eventually fail. But for right now, I’m called to be steadfast. Immovable. Always abounding in the work of the Lord, even when I’m taking time off from my job[s].

“Any activity, no matter how small, that fills your day that you do with a reliance on God and for the glory of God is the work of the Lord.” -Esther Smith

I also recently downloaded the audiobook Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren. Her chapter on the necessity yet potential spirituality of brushing teeth spoke to where I am currently.

“So I will fight against my body’s fallenness. I will care for it as best I can, knowing that my body is sacred and that caring for it, and the other bodies around me, is a holy act. I’ll hold onto the truth that my body, in all its brokenness, is beloved, and that one day, it will be like the resurrected body of Christ–glorious.”

Tish Harrison Warren

I find Warren’s take on Romans 12:1 (“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship”) to be beautiful and motivating to work towards God’s “good and acceptable and perfect” will for me for each day (Romans 12:2).

During this season of slow, monotonous responsibilities to take care of my body, I will try my best to seize opportunities to worship the Creator of all things good–even my broken body.

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