I reached back and struggled to lower myself into my long awaited place of comfort: “My chair.” 

Everything hurt and all I wanted to do was sit down, put my feet up and take the strain off my neck and shoulders in hopes that the spasming would stop.

It didn’t. Instead of sinking comfortably into my place of respite, I plopped. (Plopping is not good 2 days after neck surgery.) Instead of sinking into a comfortable position, the chair pushed back against the neck brace and made the pain worse. “Maybe it will be better with my feet up.” I thought- leaning back and pushing back from the arms of the chair.

It wasn’t.

Unbelievably, it made it worse.

“Help me.” I sobbed to my husband. I was desperate to get comfortable.

He helped me from the torture chair, and up to the bed. We tried stacking pillows behind me. I could’t even lean back without straining my neck. I never even made it into the bed. “This won’t work.”

I felt panic welling up inside. “If I can’t lay down, I can’t sit down and I can’t stand up…am I going to have to go back to the hospital?” Let’s just say that was not an option. I’d had enough of the “restful” “recovery” time in the hospital. (Which included being bothered every 13 minutes to see if I was still alive…. or something like that.)

I ended up on the couch with 16.9 bazillion pillows propping various body parts into alignment. Before getting up to go -where all women who’ve given birth to 3 children have to go every 19 minutes- I activated the early avalanche warning system- I had to. The pets and children could have been lost in a pillow catastrophe.

It wasn’t comfortable. It was miserable.

The next day- we headed out to the closest furniture store to find a chair that would work.

It was like a scene from the three bears- The first chair was too hard, forcing my head into an angle the neurosurgeon would have vetoed immediately. The second chair was too soft. My butt sank into oblivion. Which normally wouldn’t have bothered me, except for the whole- “every 19 minutes” thing that would require a hoist or a forklift to get me out before my bladder imploded….Not good. I was in bad enough shape- an imploded bladder would have been more than I could take.

Finally, I settled into a chocolate brown microfiber recliner.

Every part of my body said: “Ahhhhh…”  The muscles in my neck and back relaxed. The salesman flipped up the arm of the chair and I heard a chorus of angels sing the doxology. It had: heat, massage and a power mechanism to raise and lower the feet/head…….

Finally. Comfort. Sure.. I was still in pain. But, in that chair- I could relax into the pain instead of fighting it.

It made all the difference. I’ve been living in (and out of, that chair every 19 minutes) by the miracle of electricity… I’ve never been so thankful for a piece of furniture in my life. It’s bionic and I love it.

When you are in pain, finding the most comfortable position/ place to rest is more than just about comfort.. it’s about healing. Your body needs to rest in order to heal….

While my neck is healing up just fine..

I’m now in another kind of pain. Another season of waiting, healing…..another wave threatens to overwhelm  me like an avalanche. This one is worse than pillows.

I’ve been looking for a place to relax into. It’s not as simple as finding the right chair this time.

I’ve tried a few things…. cupcakes (too messy and I could outgrow my chair at this rate… that would suck.) Shopping… (too expensive- even on black friday.) I was tempted to get my bike out and ride off some of the stress…. but that seat could put me back in the hospital if I fall….(The truth is…lately? Everything that can go wrong, IS… So, I was smart enough not to risk it….) Nope. Not one of the chairs I tried was right.

I felt that desperation again…. “If I can’t get comfortable, I’ll end up in the hospital.. only tis time it will be the psych ward, not the neuro-surgery wing.” 

I put down the cupcake. I logged out of Amazon. I closed the garage door. (Where my beautiful bike has sat since before my surgery:( )

I sat. On a hospital waiting room chair. (my mom was having her hip replaced… we were waiting… again…)

(Side note- hospital waiting room chairs are probably the least comfortable chairs on earth. I think that’s a plot to assure return business.)

The tears came.

The pain came.

The fear came.

The avalanche hit.

Instead of looking for a more comfortable spot, I just sat.

The truth is- I couldn’t move. I was paralyzed by all that was hitting me at once.

I cried out. (In my brain- ok?  I told you I was trying to avoid the psych ward….I wasn’t screaming out loud… but people, in my heart I was screaming. Trust me.) “God you promised you won’t give me more than I can handle… and if you think I can handle this? YOU NEED YOUR HEAD EXAMINED. Your assessment is seriously off. I don’t WANT to do this. It sucks and I quit.”  

I waited for lightning to strike me dead…..(Some of my theology is entrenched in cartoons… justsayin)  To be honest- for just a moment the idea of being instantly in heaven sounded pretty good. I am exhausted. In that moment- I could understand Job’s wife’s admonishment to “curse God and die…” I always thought that showed she was cold hearted… but maybe…just maybe she was the Dr Kervorkian of the old testament…..maybe she thought cursing God and dying would end the suffering sooner than later….

Instead of a bolt of lightning …  two words struck me. Two words I know God spoke to me a long time ago….. (But not in a galaxy far far away….I’m not that crazy, yet.)

“Even there.” 

Maybe the words bounced back from my memory… or maybe they were spoken to my by the one I know as God…. But I heard them. And I remembered them.

Suddenly, I sank into that uncomfortable hospital waiting room chair, just like it was my chocolate brown-bionic recliner. Not because “even there” means so much… but because of the promise that surrounds those words….

Psalm 139

1 You have searched me, LORD,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, LORD, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

“Even there.”

“Even here?” I asked.

“Even there.”  The words were more than words… they were truth. And I knew it.

Right here. I am not alone. God is with me. He “gets” me.  He guides me. He holds me- more safely and comfortably and securely than any bionic chair….Even in a hospital waiting room, even when the emotional avalanche hits…. Even here.

Maybe, it’s not about the chair after all.

Dear Lord- I don’t know who’s reading today or what kind of pain they are seeking comfort from- but, I pray that your words would ring truth to each of us….Even there: In fear, in pain, in bad diagnosis’,  in times of loss, in times of  financial crisis….Even there. We can find comfort in pain and rest even in an avalanche…..or an awful waiting room chair….I love you lord and ask you to be present… even here.. in Jesus name… amen.