Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What is grace?

Maybe the "be still" from yesterday was literal.

I woke up today in massive pain.  Best I can tell, my pleurisy flared up again.  That's the thing about recurring conditions - you have no idea when they're going to show back up.  In case you're reading this and don't remember what pleurisy is, it is a condition where the lining of my lungs gets inflammed.  I first contracted it in December 2009, the month after I had the staph pneumonia, and once you get it, you get it again and again and again.  And because everyone's lungs sit right on top of some other vital organs, when the lining swells up, it pushes into some very sensitive nerves, and that shoots what is called referred pain up to my right shoulder, right arm down to my elbow, and neck.  When I was in Duke with the pneumonia, I repeatedly said that it felt like a sumo wrestler was sitting on my collar bone.  This pain is a similar feeling.

So needless to say, moving hurts.  And for the better part of the day, I basically couldn't get out of bed.  Thus, I was quite literally still.  Thanks to my few select prayer warriors, though, the pain subsided enough by the evening that I was able to get up and eat and move around.  The bad news is there's not a thing I can do for it.  I just have to suck it up until it goes away.  Heat, pain meds, Ibuprofen, nothing helps.  I tell ya, I used to be a complete and total wuss when it came to feeling physical pain, but after the life I've had since 2006, I've become quite good at this!

When I finally was able to get up, I was faced with attacks that basically had the one mission of making me feel like crap about myself.  I know how I look.  I'm well aware of the shape that my body is in.  I don't need to be reminded of it.  I especially don't need to be reminded by people who know very well that a good deal of the state my body is in right now and has been in for years is something I didn't exactly have control over until recently.  Surprisingly, though, I was very calm.  I didn't get upset, even after persistence.  I guess it's because I know that God's love doesn't rely on what I look like, and I have plenty of people in my life whose love for me doesn't rely on my physical appearance, either.  So if certain people want to be like that, I frankly don't care.  The world's standards of what "hot" is are not what I live for, not anymore, at least.  And recent events in my life have shown me that some guy out there one day will love me just as I am, no matter what I look like.  I guess all of that is why I didn't get upset.  Even in the pain, I see how blessed I am.

Today, I rewatched an old video from a Bloom book club selection that I participated in at the beginning of last year, Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts.  It was on Chapter 5: "What in the world, in all this world, is grace?"  Watching that video reminded me - ALL IS GRACE.  Everything.  When bad things happen, God's grace isn't those bad things.  God's grace is found in the redemption He can bring to anything if we just let Him.  Today, God's grace was in Him letting me fall back asleep to escape the pain.  God's grace was in the pain subsiding.  God's grace was in the peace He gave me when otherwise, my first reaction would be to get upset.  He's not asking me (or anyone else) to praise and thank Him for the pain, He's asking me to praise and thank Him for His being good despite it.  I now believe with every fiber in my being that God grieves our pain just as much as, if not even more than, we do.

I can go to bed tonight simply aware of the fact that I am loved despite my screwups, God is good despite the pain, He is always here and always watching and always holding me.  It's hard to give thanks when you're upset or hurt, but it is in realizing that God is still good no matter what and that He is with me in my pain that I find the peace to know that His grace is everywhere.


  1. what a well written post mallory!!! you are an amazing young woman!!!

  2. Hope today goes better. Josette is right- you are amazing!

  3. Love, love, love... needed this.