What is a finish line?
This is the question I have had to ask myself so many times over the past seven weeks. I was graciously accepted into a 7 week challenge by Sara, the coordinator and faithful cheerleader at www.faithfulfinishlines.com . All I had to do was participate in their program (which is amazing by the way) and blog once a week about what was going on with me and the finish line goal I set for myself. It should have been fairly easy, especially since all I really had to do was talk about me…right?
Turns out it wasn't so easy. I promise I have 6 other partially written posts about what I was going through during this difficult seven weeks of my life. It was a journey of post-surgery pain, humbling limitations, and slowly learning to celebrate the small stuff. I will post them eventually, but it is the end of the challenge, and time dictates this one must come first.
You see, I am a big picture thinker and set big goals. I strive for big things and have always been very capable of taking care of myself and the entire world around me very effectively. Then suddenly I find myself post-surgery and the very capable person I have always been suddenly wasn't there.
In planning the surgery, I knew I would be limited on some physical things, and had planned to fulfill my faithful finish lines commitment with ease as well as focus on things that I had been putting off because I had been too 'on the go' and wouldn't slow down and focus on them. One of those things I had planned to do was write another book. (Didn’t I say I thought and planned BIG things?)
The day I went in for surgery I had it all planned out! The night of surgery when the nerve block wore off, I recognized I may have a problem. I counted and planned on a lack of use of my arm…I figured I could deal with that even in writing since there are speech to text programs. What I hadn't counted on was the pain. Not just a stub your toe pain that you can hold your breath and get through, but a deep pain that causes you to not be able to think straight. It's a pain that doesn't seem to release or go away.
Then there was the added emotional pain that comes when you realize that you (a very capable person) can’t do the basic hygiene tasks of brushing your teeth, brushing your hair, applying deodorant, changing clothes, or bathing. My husband bought me baby wipes and I wept when I realized I couldn't even do that on my own.
I also faced the realization that I couldn't sleep in my bed. I have always been a slide or belly sleeper and was reduced to attempting sleep sitting up in a recliner. All of the things above, with a lack or good rest, relying on my dear husband to tend to me as if I were a fragile toddler, allowed an all too familiar voice get louder and louder. This is a voice I have heard so many times throughout my life. It always says the same exact thing… YOU ARE A FAILURE!
It was different this time though. There was another voice trying to pierce the darkness. This voice told me, “Hang in there!”, “You are loved”, “It’s okay for your goal to be survival”.
This voice was loving, and merciful. It told me that it was okay to show myself mercy and grace. It helped me see that small goals can be good goals. It told be to recognize my limitations and embrace life within those limits...this voice spoke to me with the mercy that God shows us, not the condemnation that comes from the enemy.
I started this journey seven weeks ago with a goal of writing a book, not gaining weight during my post-surgery time, and getting myself back to walking 3 miles a day 3 times a week. I even wanted to finish off with my first official 5K run.
At the end of this 7 weeks, and have only successfully written one blog post (this makes two), I gained 15 pounds, and I walked 2 miles in the mall once between doctor appointments. According to this, I could listen to that familiar voice and agree that I am a failure. OR….
I could tap in to what the Faithful Finish Lines community is all about… MERCY AND GRACE. I have survived the most physically painful experience of my life. I haven’t given up, but pushed through physical therapy that I actively wept through (and still do). I am committed to do my exercises and stretches at home that I still weep through twice a day. I can now bathe myself and brush my teeth…all with pain, but I can do it. I am a winner. I am successful. What are finish lines and goals all about anyway? They are about not giving up. I wanted to give up so many times, but I haven’t. Sara and the Faithful Finish Lines team didn't give up on me and helped me learn how to not give up on myself, and for that I am grateful!
So dear friend, if you are in a season of life right now where the main voice you hear is condemning and telling you that you are a failure…I want to introduce you to another voice. It’s one I just met, but it’s an amazing one to have in your head and on your side! This voice says, “Hang in there!”, “You are loved”, “It’s okay for your goal to be survival”. This voice is loving, and merciful. It tells you that it is okay to show yourself mercy and grace. It will help you see that small goals can be good goals. It will teach you to recognize your limitations and embrace life within those limits. It will tell you that you are not alone!
I have no medal or badge to celebrate a big momentous accomplishment, but I survived and I can do the little things…and that is a pretty big thing!