I did something big… But let me start at the beginning. You see, when I was 11 weeks pregnant with my daughter, I had a terrible pain in my left calf. I kept writing it off in my head as a leg cramp from working out too much the day before. But it wouldn’t go away no matter how much I stretched and walked it out. Then it got worse and I could barely walk, so I ended up at the ER.
Going to the emergency room is never fun, but it is even less enjoyable when you are pregnant and you don’t know what is going on. I remember sitting in the room waiting to get an ultrasound of my leg unsure of what was happening. In a nutshell, I ended up in the ER all day long to find out that my body reacted negatively to all of the hormones coursing through me from pregnancy and created two blood clots in my calf. And, here is the kicker, I would need blood thinning medication via syringes for my entire pregnancy and most likely three months afterward.
The nurse gave me my first shot of the medication and I remember being calm and cool on the outside. After all, I really was happy to be headed home (after getting all-comforting Chick-Fil-A on the way, of course). But on the inside, I was so overwhelmed.
I realized that I would need to give myself a shot in the leg every. single. day.
I know for some this may seem insignificant, but this was a big deal for me! I hardly ever had to go to the doctor, I’d only had antibiotics a few times as a child, and I didn’t even know how to refill a prescription at the pharmacy. I remember having a lump in my throat all day the next day, thinking about the evening when I’d have to give myself another shot of the medication.
As the days went on, I was extra careful cutting in the kitchen and shaving my legs to keep bleeding to a minimum. I got more used to giving the shots. Still, I dreaded it every time. The lump in my throat remained and I would sometimes even close my eyes as I stuck the needle in my skin (I do not recommend this).
In my mind, I knew that I was keeping myself and my unborn daughter safe by taking the medication. But in my heart? I was letting bitterness grow.
Sure, I distracted myself with my full-time job, baby showers, birthing classes, parenting books, and rearranging the house (they call it nesting, right?). But I used a lot of that to put off dealing with my heart attitude.
As the sinner that I am (Romans 3:23), I was upset that the Lord would give me this problem, this “hard thing.” Deep down, I thought that I deserved to have an easy life because I loved the Lord and was working hard to honor Him with my life. It wasn’t fair. But, I kept pushing through, kept giving the shots, and kept going, in my own strength.
Then, finally, the day came to give my last shot.
I remember being so excited when the doctor said that there was no longer a risk of further clotting three months after my daughter’s birth. I remember waking up the first day that I didn’t have to do a shot and being so happy.
By this time my life had gotten so busy and full with my baby that I did not think much about the whole ordeal. Then I would go to clean the bathroom or get a towel and see those sharps containers under my sink, full of used needles, and have a twinge of discomfort and bitterness. I was still angry.
It wasn’t until this last week, almost a year later, that I put it all together.
I had let this bitterness stay in my heart, this anger toward the Lord for a trial He’d given me.
I could feel the tension in my relationship with Him, the uneasiness in prayer and the fog when reading His Word. And finally, I realized it had been long enough. God had given me this trial to show me how much I was relying on my own good works, my own strength, when I should’ve been resting in His grace.
Even when we think we are doing everything right, pursuing holiness and God’s glory, we are not promised to have it easy or to avoid all trials and suffering. In fact, the Bible says that we should not be surprised when suffering and tribulation follow us as God’s children (1 Peter 4:12).
But our gracious Father uses those trials to draw us closer to Him and to purify us (James 1:2-4). That’s what He had been doing in my heart, purifying my self-centeredness and making me rely on Him.
So, what was the big thing I did this weekend? I repented. I unloaded all of my sinful bitterness and anger, thanked God for His neverending grace and love toward me, and asked for His help to rest in His work and not my own.
And then I loaded up every single syringe and took them to be recycled. A seemingly insignificant and easy task, but I was so glad to be rid of those shots and the sin they represented.
And you know what? I will have to be on medication again if I have another child. And that’s okay. I will see it as another opportunity to trust God more and lean on Him. I have learned that I can never earn a good, easy life, even when I think it would be fair. The beauty of God’s grace is that it makes life not fair. He has chosen to call me His own even though I am selfish, rebellious, and unholy, that is definitely not fair (Romans 5:8). And He actually helps me to be less selfish, rebellious, and unholy by sending trials like this one (Philippians 1:6).
So, I am thankful. Thankful for a loving Father who was patient with me over this last year and half of holding out on Him. Thankful for the forgiveness that He gives when we repent and confess (1 John 1:9). Thankful for this trial that He gave and for the lessons I learned from it.
What about you? How has the Lord taught you through your trials? I would love to hear your story!
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