Jaime Geideman – Associate Worship Pastor
My lip…my lip is numb. Having a numb bottom lip is challenging. I bite myself a lot. I drool. If you’ve ever been to the dentist and been numbed to have a tooth fixed or pulled then you know what my new normal is. And… I’ve gotten frustrated & discouraged about it sometimes.
A few weeks ago Pastor Jeremy spoke about wrestling with God and something within that message really challenged me. The focus of the teaching was the story of how Jacob wrestled with God. When we read about that encounter, we see how Jacob’s hip was injured while wrestling and how he walked with a limp because of it. And this is where the teaching got me… When we look at Jacob’s limp, Jeremy asked if we view it as a punishment or if we viewed it as a reminder of the encounter he had with God that changed him forever. That question wrecked me…because it made me take a hard look at something in my life that maybe I’ve seen as a punishment.
On February 24th 2016 I had to undergo upper & lower reconstructive jaw surgery to relieve painful symptoms in my jaw caused by TMJ. After surgery my entire face from below my eyes down was completely numb and I was in more pain than I ever could’ve imagined (I may not have been able to feel my face, but every bone and muscle inside it killed me). Little by little, I began to heal. My muscles figured out how to work in their new placement, the bones mended, the pain subsided, the nerves started waking up…little by little. I could feel my nose finally, I could feel my cheeks, I could feel my upper lip..this was all good stuff that happened over a period of about 6 months. But, my bottom lip & chin…they were still asleep. At every checkup, my surgeon assured me there was nothing to worry about and that they’d wake up at some point. At every visit the projected “wake up” expectation would move…3 months, 3-6 months, 6-9 months maybe…then the very certain…1 year. “Everyone has feeling back by 1 year.” At my one year checkup when they were still asleep and I got downgraded to “probable” return of feeling, I walked out of that office, defeated and totally discouraged. I was told that 1 person in all of this doctor’s history, only 1, had taken 2 years to return, so that there was still hope…I still left crying.
So now I sit here nearly 1 year and 5 months post-surgery with my bottom lip & chin still numb… but as I sit here, I sit here challenging myself and wrestling with how I see this physical ailment and desiring to see God in it.
When I had the surgery the physical pain was so much to bear, so much so that I longed for the pain of before. For the first 8 weeks I longed to go back to the pain of the crooked jaw I had, rather then endure the pain that it took to make it straight. I’ve had some dark and hard days throughout this recovery. I’ve wrestled, I’ve prayed for healing, I’ve prayed for His will (that I’ve secretly hoped is to heal me), I’ve wondered if He’s punishing me, I’ve wondered where He is at, I’ve wondered…Why?? I’ve wrestled. In that wrestling though, I’ve encountered God, every time. Good days and bad, He was always there, He gave me grace and mercy in my struggle, He allowed me to be upset and loved me all the same. I’m forever different because of my surgery.
I have literally no symptoms from my TMJ anymore. I live a pain free life but I’m numb…I might or might not be numb forever, but that’s just my lip & chin. My heart…my heart feels. I feel the Lord with me, no matter if I’m wrestling or at peace, I feel His love and no matter what comes of my lip & chin, I pray I see it as a reminder of an encounter I had with God that literally changed me forever.
Is there something in your life that you’re seeing as a punishment? Wondering where God is? Is something not going exactly like you had hoped?? I’ve been there! I hope that we can take time when we find ourselves in those moments to pray, know that He is there, tell him what we’re going through, tell Him our frustrations, tell Him what we’re thankful for, pray for whatever it is that we need to see Him in and then forever view it as a reminder of the encounter we’ve had with Him.
What’s yours?Click here for the photo credit on this post