Monday, July 14, 2008

Grin and Bear It

I was thinking the other day about certain idioms and phrases that we use and hear often...
  • Labor of love
  • At wit's end
  • A shot in the dark
  • A blessing in disguise
  • Bend over backwards
  • Better late than never
  • Burning the candle at both ends
  • Actions speak louder than words
  • When it rains, it pours
  • Don't put all your eggs in one basket
  • Every cloud has a silver lining
  • Great minds think alike
  • Have your cake and eat it too
  • Your guess is as good as mine
  • Woke up on the wrong side of the bed
  • Out of sight out of mind
  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder
  • Practice makes perfect
  • Rome wasn't built in a day
  • Skeletons in the closet
  • Best of both worlds
  • Don't judge a book by its cover
  • Ball is in your/their court
  • No pain, no gain
  • Grin and bear it

There are hundreds of them. And for some reason, I was thinking about such phrases the other day. I was thinking about how often they are said in day to day conversations, how often they are written in cards or emails and - how often they bring a sense of comfort, reassurance or justification to us.

Along this same train of thought, I began to focus on a particular phrase.... 'No Pain, No Gain'.

I started mentally analyzing whether or not I had ever gone through pain in which I didn't feel the outcome was a positive gain in my life. Immediately I thought about exercising. I assume that exercising (for the average, every day person - such as myself) isn't necessarily fun or something you'd look forward to doing. However, you know that dealing with the "pain(s)" of running, biking or lifting weights invite wonderful "gains" to your being. You're in better shape and potentially more healthy. So I started to wonder if all the pain I've ever experienced in my life ALWAYS proved a positive gain. And unfortunately, the answer was no. Not every pain, produced a gain in which I enjoyed, was proud of, or thought was worth it.

In an effort to provide full disclosure I will let you in on a particular "skeleton in my closet". I have a small tattoo on my right foot. About the size of a nickel. Most people that I've met in my adult life, do not know about it as I have gone to great lengths to pretend it doesn't exist. I got this little marking about 10 years ago, right after high school. I'm sure at the time, I thought it was some sort of "right of passage"... but after about a month of having it permanently affixed to my body... I was over it. The place on my foot I decided to have them ink me is apparently a very sensitive spot. The tattoo consists of only 5 small lines (that are supposed to look like your hand doing the 'I love you' sign in sign language - however it looks more like, well, nothing at all!) and even though it was only 5 small lines, the pain was the most annoying pain I've ever gone through (not necessarily the most painful... I used to say that... until I had a baby, but it was a very real and annoyingly constant pain).

I went through a deal of "pain" however the "gain" left much to be desired. And now, 10 years later, I cover it up as if it's not even there so I don't have to be reminded of how needless the whole experience was.

A few years after getting the tattoo, I went to a plastic surgeon type of place to try and get it removed by a sort of laser. Now, I can say with all honesty that the pain caused by attempting to remove the tattoo is neck and neck with giving birth. Picture a giant - no, bigger than that - type of rubber band that has been pulled taut to full extended capacity.... and then let go, only to snap your skin with all of its power - repeat, repeat, repeat and repeat again. Unbelievable pain. I went back to the office for 3 rounds of these treatment sessions ($250 bucks a pop) and guess what.... that pain produced no gain either.... I still have the tattoo.... but instead of it being black, you could say it's a faded dark green. Talk about frustrating.

Why am I telling you this? Because thinking about this past experience in my life led me to thinking about this current experience in my life. Almost 6 months ago, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. "No pain, No gain" fits perfectly with the truth that the pain in giving birth produced a wonderful gain of a much desired son.

I've described two instances in which the no pain/no gain mentality left two completely different versions of "comfort"... or lack thereof... upon my life. One pain was a complete waste - twice! And one pain had the most rewarding end result. Sometimes it hurts to get to what we want, or better - what we need... and sometimes it hurts to figure out what we do not want.

And what I've realized with Ethan's illness and the drastic changes it has meant for mine and my husband's lives is that it yes, sometimes it does hurt to get to what we want, or what we need... And in that sense, with Ethan's cancer, there is much to be gained from the Lord if I am willing to pay attention.

I've learned that I will get eaten alive with doubt and despair if I do not fully seek the Lord every day and seek to learn what He is doing with Ethan's life to mold and change my life. If I miss the lesson, if I miss the growth, if I miss an opportunity... If I miss the point.... then what? Obviously we've been chosen. We've been chosen to be Ethan's parents. There's no mistake in that. And if I then choose to be bitter, closed-minded, fearful, in a constant bad mood, or angry then what I've missed it. I've missed the overall picture of Christ's plan, purpose and love.

I assure you our son having leukemia is serving a significant purpose. And it's not just a "your guess is as good as mine" type of reason, either. It's a real reason. A reason I might not get an opportunity to fully know or understand completely.... but I believe. And I know this journey is just as significant for me and Adam as it is for Ethan. So I don't want to waste it. I don't want to look back on all the pain endured during this season in our life, and see no personal, spiritual gain for myself.

I don't want to look back 10 years from now and see the mark this trial had on my life and feel I wasted any part of it.

So what do I do now with the pain I face regularly.... "grin and bear it". Because "every cloud has a silver lining" and along the way even when I am at my "wit's end"... those apparent set backs to my expectations are probably a "blessing in disguise".

p.s - Please pray for my meeting with Ethan's doctor this morning as we determine some sort of treatment plan for Ethan while he is at home for an extended period and pray for the board of specialists meeting tomorrow afternoon as Ethan's case is discussed regarding his spleen.


huntsouth said...

Thanks for the encouragement at the beginning of the week. There are lots of "big" things to decide, and it is a blessing that the Lord has already seen them from the other side! God bless you with wisdom and peace and endurance!---
And don't look a gift horse in the mouth!
Love, Amy

Lizzie Fish said...

good morning - what a wonderful thought first thing on a monday. we'll be praying for your visit today. love, liz and carly

Gingerroot said...

Kasey and Adam,
My prayers are with you as you await more information on Ethan's continued care.
Kasey, thank you for your inspiringing thoughts and kind words.
Ginny (Adam's team)