Walk with Me – Vocation Revisited

Towards the end of last year, I wrote on the topic of vocation, wrestling and asking the question on how I am to be part of the Body to bring Him Glory. Remembering the recurring verses and prompting to just “walk with the Lord and watch how He does it”, I think I have a better idea of what it may mean 6 months later (albeit still struggling to walk it).

So I also mentioned in my previous posts that my Lupus is on a flare. It has been for a while now and I have started more aggressive treatments since. To cut the long story short, the disease is yet to be brought under control as my body is not responding to the multiple revisions of drug treatments over the months. The process have been devastating and my body feels every bit of it – exhaustion. So what has it got to do with my vocation?

It was during one of our weekly life group meeting sometime in January where I gave an update on the status of my flare. Upon hearing how my condition has not improved, a dear brother proposed that as a life group, we will fast lunch for a week and pray for me. The whole group supported the idea immediately. To be honest, I was caught off guard and did not know how to respond. I was extremely touched by the group’s love but part of me feels unworthy and unsettled, fearing that the group may be discouraged if nothing spectacular happens at the end of the week. As I think further to my emotions then, I realise that the feeling of fear crept in because the outcome is something I have no control in – I can’t achieve better outcome just by having more knowledge or try harder. In other words, there is nothing I can do and it is totally not me. This makes me realise how much of my confidence stems from my knowledge and ability to do things.

So my life group fasted lunch for me. For a week, each of us forwent our normal social lunch outing, fasted and prayed for me. We exchanged our insights and reflections after we prayed, amidst our hunger and struggles to abstain from food (haha!) – suffering is lighter when shared with fellow starving brothers and sisters :D. It was quite an experience for me. I got to read and hear their heart, and witness their faith, love and hope growing for me. I was touched. While I agreed with all their prayers for me, I was worried for the same reason shared earlier. I remember very distinctly that on one of the lunchtime prayer session, I prayed to God that no matter what the outcome of the week-long prayer and fasting on my condition is, may it bring Him glory. I may not know how it would work, but that God will meet each of my brothers and sisters and do His wonderful work in their respective spiritual journey. That was all I could pray because there is really nothing else I can do – desperate cry!

Two verses which I clung on tightly since more than a decade ago came back to mind as I prayed in desperation.

“1 Timothy 4:4-5 – For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.”

More than a decade ago when battling another Lupus flare, I came across the two verses above which led me to claim to God that I am good. My circumstances and all the bad that I was going through, because they have been laid at the altar through prayers of my community, my life have been sanctified by the word of God spoken in faith and is Good. I dare called myself Good for God’s purposes.

These 2 verses came back to me as I was praying that afternoon and I cried out to God to “#MakeMeGoodAgain” (pun intended), regardless of whether I am healed.

At the end of the week, we had a life group celebratory cum break-fast dinner. As I hear the accounts of my fellow brothers and sisters on their respective encounter, wrestles and communion with God in the week of praying and fasting for me, I was very humbled and at the same time encouraged. I caught a glimpse of the Good that could come out from my life. God had worked in His marvelous ways and His name was glorified through my life story. And the best thing is… that I did not even have to do anything. All that I am to do is to live my life as I am called to be – to walk with God and watch how He does it…. and in that, learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

Isaiah 55:8-9 –
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” – Matthew 11:28-30

 

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Experiments

Back from my 2-week vacation and what a trip it has been 🙂 Apprehensive as I set off, having reservations on whether I’ll be able to cope with the physical demands involved especially when the destination is famous for its preposterous amount of steep steps with a landscape that looks like this 😉

Oia, Santorini Island, Greece
Oia, Santorini Island, Greece

Apprehensive as I was on the physical aspect, I embarked on this trip filled with a sense of confidence and purpose. Not even sure if confidence is the right word, but I know that this will be the last trip before I return to focus my mind to go through all necessary medical procedures and treatments. I know well that this trip will be a stretch to my physical body but when I survive it, I would have arrived at a mental state where I am ready to face what is required. I was ready to pay the price for this trip.

We can never fully prepare for something until we are there to experience it for ourselves. On the first day when we arrived at Oia, Santorini, we were greeted with mean steps leading to our accommodation. If you look at the above photo, just beside the white balcony closest to us at the bottom right corner is the location of our accommodation. close to the top right hand corner of the photo is a brown coloured mini market situated at the top level of the village, the level where most activities in the village take place. The top level and everywhere you see in this photo is only accessible by foot / or hired donkeys. We were dropped by car somewhere in the mid-level at the other side of the village, lugged our luggage all the way to the top level, checked-in at the office and were led to our accommodation. Traumatized we were as we lagged behind our porter (thank God for porters) who took both our luggage, 15kg and 18kg respectively on his shoulder, breezing through the steps at the speed of wind. We struggled to keep up even though our hands were empty… yikes.. what a way to be greeted on the first day.

Horror thoughts went through my mind as I struggled through the steps. Staying at a room so far down means we have to climb up the exact same steps each time we go out and down as we return. We have 3 nights and 4 days in Santorini – it was disturbing, and worried I had become. Did I ever mention that I have difficulties even with the well designed and evenly constructed stairs back home? The entire Oia village is constructed on uneven grounds and is connected by steps of different size, height and depth. No two steps are the same. I could only trust, hope and brace myself for what I would have to face. I whispered many many prayers.

One thing I had learnt through experience this time is that we can only progress when we dare step out of our comfort zone. Never, and I say never in my day-to-day routine will I even come close to any situations where I’ll be required to climb such stairs or be subjected to activities requiring such physical demands. My current adjusted lifestyle is safe and controlled, allowing for some experimental risk but only within boundaries that are regulated by each ‘experimental outcome’. In Santorini, I rose up to the challenge, with the help of painkillers of course. I was on daily dose of 7.5mg Meloxicam. After a few times up and down those stairs, they become less intimidating as the mind and body (maybe) start to adjust to them. The walking and climbing was so intense that though I couldn’t feel any physical pain (thanks to the painkiller), I was told that I had started to walk funny. The sensation of pain kicked in on the 3rd day despite the painkiller. What could I do? It is only the beginning of my 14-day trip across Greece and Santorini is my first stop. There is no return to this…

The physical demand persisted as one would expect during a trip like this. From Santorini, we proceeded to Mykonos, Delos, Delphi, Arachova, Kalambaka, Meteora and Athens. There were lots of walking, hiking, climbing and more climbing. My day starts and ends with functional stretches and constant applications of what I’d learnt from my therapists on posture and movement through the day. I was focused and determined to make it.  It was all worth it though. At the end of each boundary pushing ‘experiment’, I was rewarded with interesting finds and breathtaking sceneries that remind me that the world is much bigger than my own.

Monasteries of Meteora
Monasteries of Meteora, Greece

I survived, or dare I say I overcame myself repeatedly during this trip. I made all the climbs and hit all the places we’d planned to visit. I’d learnt and experienced much this trip and I think I came back with slightly stronger leg mucles and a slightly more flexible hip movement. The boundary was expanded during the trip and I hope it will be the trend setter!

At the back of my mind though, how do I apply that into my current lifestyle without the painkiller? More experiments beckon 🙂

“If you want to walk on water, you gotta get out of the boat!”

Deception and liberation

This week, I’ve come to a realization that I had been living the last 11 years of my under a lie. A lie that had limited me in many aspects of my life, restricted my lifestyle and put me in a permanent state of disability (both physically and mentally). I can’t even describe how cheated I feel for being misinformed, and how I had subjected myself to that bondage for 11 years, unnecessarily. As angry as I am for being ‘lied’ to, it is nothing compared to the tremendous joy arising from the inside. It is like the whole world opened up for me with possibilities, the shadow of permanent disability was lifted from me (to some extent). I felt free..

Ok that was the Abstract (pun intended) of this entry 🙂

I went to the orthopedics for a review on my stage 4 avascular necrosis of my left hip and discussed about the plan for my second total hip replacement (THR) surgery for the left hip. Other than impressing the surgeon on my up-to-date knowledge on the technology advancement in the hip replacement surgical technique – anterior approach (haha! thanks to dear friend who gave me some pointers and checklist to ensure that the surgeon is skilled for the job), and asking him lots of question including whether he is skilled/experienced enough to do it (haha.. i think he was caught by surprise when I asked him how many of such surgeries he had performed successfully).

One of the questions I asked includes whether the current hip prostheses system has improved rotational range from the previous generation. My question gave myself away.. upon further clarification, I came to realise that I had been living under a LIE ever since my right hip was replaced 11 years ago. 11 years ago when I was planning for my THR, I was informed and bombarded with information of what NOT TO DO after surgery. That includes limited range for my new hip, such as ‘do not bring you knee higher than your hip EVER’ – that just ruled out squatting, sleeping in fetus position, siting on low chairs/stool; ‘do not rotate your legs outward’; ‘do not sit crossed legged’; ‘do not bring your legs out wider than 45 degrees from the other leg’ – no splitting, no sitting on the floor; etc etc. Else, my hip may dislocate. I had lived the last 11 years adhering closely to these guidelines, under the fear that if i don’t, my hip will dislocate. Furthermore, it is a handicap, a disability that limits my activity and causes inconveniences to the people around me. It was both my physical and emotional bondage. Not nice at all.

And so, I realised that these guidelines and precautions are applicable only during the approximate 6 months recovery time.  After the hip and muscles around it had fully recovered, the prosthetic hip can restore close to full rotation and range as that of a real hip. OH… how have i lived?! A friend described it as “being trapped in a prison cell not knowing that the door is open. I feel lied to and angry, but at the same time I was freed. Now, there is a great hope because I know the judgement of disability had been lifted. Of course as a result of 15 years of non-use (including years of non-use due to pain pre-surgery), the muscles in my body are all tight and tensed. I have a long long way to go to restore my mobility and movement range, but i know it is now possible. I look forward to the day I can bend down to pick things from the floor, squat down, sit on the floor, get up from the floor with ease and cut my own toe-nails with ease. (OMG i am crying just thinking about the possibilities…. haha). So with this, I will continue to work closely with my physiotherapist and pilates instructor to achieve my goals.

I am happy!

A note on the left hip, I am planning for my THR sometime next year. Why only next year? Because first things first. Need to get my lupus under controlled before thinking about the less non life threatening discomfort. Saw the Rheumatologist this week too… got myself booked in for an ultrasound scan and a kidney biopsy. Discussion and review on treatment options to follow…

I need courage.

Meanwhile, off to Greece for a holiday first…

via dolorosa

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AND HE SAID TO THEM ALL, IF ANY MAN WILL COME AFTER ME, LET HIM DENY HIMSELF, AND TAKE UP HIS CROSS DAILY, AND FOLLOW ME. -LUKE 9:23

In the light of the hyper grace and prosperity gospel, many people are deceived by the misconstrued  theology that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for believers. Happiness and self-gratification becomes the bait to attract many into idolatry, in the name of Christianity. It is clear in the Bible though, that we are called to follow Jesus. Jesus’ purpose in walking on earth is to be the first-born among many brethren (believers) (Rom 8:29d) in God’s divine plan of redemption. The redemption was fulfilled with Jesus dying on the Cross and His Resurrection from the dead.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, the 4 accounts in the Gospels give us a very clear picture on the struggle Jesus faced and the agony He was in. “Then He said to the disciples ‘My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death…'” (Matt 26:38a). Twice He prayed that the cup may pass from Him yet each time, He submitted to the Father’s will. An angel was sent by God to strengthen Him that He continued to pray more fervently even in His great grief (Luke 22:43-44). What gave Jesus the strength to go on? It is the joy of the Redeeming Glory of God that is yet to come. Jesus carried the Cross till the end and fulfilled the promise as the first-born among us who dare believes. In John 16: 16-22, we catch a glimpse of what that joy is about.

In the same manner, we are called to deny ourselves (idolatry or selfish desires), take up our cross daily and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23). Our individual crosses may differ but what has increasingly become clearer for me is the cross of my chronic illness. Interesting enough, I get my fair share of well-meaning “Peters” who rebukes me as the idea of the cup of suffering does not align with their personal theology (of prosperity gospel?) (see Matt 6:22). The cup of suffering/sorrow is contraindicative to the well received prosperity gospel that many believers now subscribe to. However, we see that it is being affirmed in the Bible repeatedly through the words and lives of Jesus (John 16:33), Paul (Rom 8:18) and Job. Maybe, and most assuredly, this is what it is about to be a Christian. A good book to read on this is Henri Nouwen’s “Can You Drink the Cup?”, where the Nouwen puts the cup of sorrow and cup of joy side by side.

As the term sorrow or suffering suggests, and demonstrated by Jesus Himself, the cup and the journey of the cross, via dolorosa (latin for “Way of Grief”) is not an easy one to swallow. It is full of agony and grief – and we are called to follow after Jesus! Just as I was returning from a medical review with the doctor yesterday which confirmed an on-going flare and officially puts me in a fight mode together with the medical team, the reminder of this being my cross surfaces. The via dolorosa  was what I saw, with the Resurrected Jesus waiting ahead of me at the top of the Golgotha hill. I am glad I am not alone walking through the via dolorosa. Together with me along the way are many more like-minded people who has chosen to pick up their cross and walk up the via dolorosa, following the footsteps of Jesus. There was a joy in knowing where it leads – to the Resurrected Jesus, the only reason why my life on earth is worth living. As I reflect more on this, I understand a little bit more about what Jesus meant when He said “Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and My burden in light.” (Matt 11:29-30)

My heart was strengthen with Joy.

Out of the cave

Having spent 2015 attempting to clarify the question of my vocation and calling, I entered 2016 with a desire to Participate. Participation in the works of my local community and to be part of something greater than myself, whatever the form and shape of that “community”. Having not actively participated in any fixed community for the last few years put me in a very good position to reset the area and form of my participation. On the flip side though, I was left completely clueless and do not have a launching platform – I was at point zero. What was clear to me though, was that I do not want to be doing the same thing I was in my previous participation. As a close friend rightly pointed out to me, the me 10 years ago is a very different me in the present. So there I was, in a place of endless possibility yet lost without a trajectory. What did I do? As usual, I did something that was easy and does not require me to break a leg – I placed that desire on the altar as an offering to God. This may sound “oh-so-holy”, but more often than not, it has been used as a cop-out. Pray and let God sort it out for me, end of story, case close 🙂 (oh wait… NOT quite!)

A great part of my life is bound by the limitations and constrains as one living with chronic disease. As one who grew up and mature into adulthood with such baggage in my life, I have learnt early in life to embrace imperfections and accept that life is unfair. Having struggled with my illness for 21 years, and wrestling with God on a day-to-day basis, I have come to recognize that life itself is a gift from God. After all, I am alive with a physical body created in His image. The only way I can fulfil God’s purposes in my life as a human is to be alive in a physical form, at least one that is functioning. With that, I am responsible to nurture and take care of that body! As much as I appreciate the notion of positive Christian thinking and the often well-meant yet misquoted “I can do all thing through Christ who strengthens me”, the pragmatic me do recognize that pain is equally a gift to us. Pain as defined by the Oxford dictionary, is a highly unpleasant physical sensation caused by illness or injury. Pain is a built-in mechanism to protect. It is a signal to stop us from causing more injury or harm to ourselves and a signal to tell us something is not right; it is a signal to stop and relook at ourselves. We cannot ignore pain. There is a time for everything and most of all, we are called to align ourselves with God. More on pain another time.

So since about 2 years ago, the imagery and the message of my restoration and God returning to me ALL (including years!!) that I have lost in double portion had been repeatedly spoken over me. Big part of me is excited and even fantasize about the idea of being a teenager again! (God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine right? HAHAHA). It has been 2 years since the word was first spoken but I do not see any fruit of its kind and am diagnostically nowhere near. On the contrary, just about 3 months ago, my body started to fall apart in a more serious manner. Daily routine of getting up and going to work requires a great deal of struggling. I am constantly fatigued and in pain, and every movement hurts. It was devastating to the core and my spirit was crushed. I had no answer. I cried out to God and asked Him “Why? If the same word has been spoken over me repeatedly for 2 years, why hasn’t it come to pass? Am I not doing enough?” I remember humbling myself and asked God another question “Does the problem lie within me?”

Despite being chronically ill, I am also one who had been blessed with a rather sharp intellect. With that lies also a smart alec that could surface anytime without warning. In the last 2 years or so, upon receiving the words of prophecy and thanks to my scientific training, vast network and my privileged access to medical advancement, I had started to do many things – fitness regime, rehabilitation programs, dietary supplements, latest medical literature, change in diet and even explored alternative therapies. I was preoccupied with all these things while burning a big hole in my pocket. I had taken things in my own hands. I had taken the word and try to engineer it according to my knowledge.  It is so true that your gifting can be a gift or a curse. I was rebuked! BIG TIME.

“For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” Galation 6:8 (NASB)

God is sovereign, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. He loves and did not give up on me. He rebuked me and in His continual process of teaching me how to be fully human, he taught me a few lessons, and some lessons they were.

When God gives you a word, while you do not sit there and do nothing, do not be in a hurry to ‘take it and run’. God is in no hurry to get the “word” done and God does not need your help. He is more interested in how we respond to Him, the process of relationship and character building leading to the fruition of His word. The process is often more rewarding that the fruit itself. Spend time to hear God’s voice. Clarify and understand God’s heart before and during any action. Our interpretation of the word may be different from God’s intention and the way to approach the word may not necessarily be the way we think it should be. Seek God and let Him be the driver.

“Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:29-30 (MSG)

For me, it is a lesson to re-position myself. From a place far from grace, God has called me to come back into His presence. A life-form, given the right nourishment and living condition will grow and bring forth fruit naturally. Fruits are byproducts of a well-nourished and thriving life. It was a call to focus on first things first – to live. So what is the source of Life? The answer is found in Jesus.

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (NASB)

Stuck in the process of clarifying my vocation and calling, upon hearing this, I can’t help but asked the question “What kind of fruits will my life produce?” If the focus is to Love Jesus, “How does the life of a Jesus loving me look like?” and “How am I to participate in the Body of Christ?” (Sounds familiar isn’t it?)

Events unfold and part of my musing includes the topic of “Disability and Euthanasia”, much inspired by the movie “Me Before You”. It was not the movie that sparked this thought in me. As someone with chronic illness experiencing the decaying of the mortal body, I am acutely aware of the possibility that one day I may be disabled (if not already) – may it never be! I really dislike the idea of me becoming a burden to the people around me and I often wonder if I will be able to find love, to find a life partner who among all other overrated desirable traits, has an additional attribute that says “Willing to Suffer”. Well that is a separate topic altogether. And so with that, euthanasia to me could solve the problem. If one day I do become incapable of contributing anything to the society, or is unable to do anything including taking care of my own day-to-day living, nobody should be inflicted with the burden of taking care of me. I think much of that comes from the modern-day worldview where we define our worth by the things we can do and our contribution to the world. I know it is wrong and I hate myself for thinking that… but I just can’t help it as one who will potentially cause others to be burdened. Maybe that is also why I try to be independent… too independent for my own good. A big part of my journey of pain and suffering is kept private. As much as it is a very lonely journey, I had made it worse by trying to do it on my own. The constant struggle between independence and vulnerability is real. I had tasted the good and bad of both and is fundamentally still adverse to the idea of putting my life at the forefront of men’s judgement. I like staying in my cave, alone.

In my 21-year quest to understand the suffering of the ‘righteous’, among others, one key element that gets me thinking each time is the role of suffering in a community and vice versa. Jesus is the Chief Sufferer of the Church. He died on the Cross for you and me so that we can be called the People of God. An excerpt from my favourite book The Wounded Healer reads:

“A Christian community is a healing community not because wounds are healed and pains are alleviated, but because wounds and pain become openings or occasions for a new vision. Mutual confession becomes a mutual deepening of hope, and sharing weakness becomes a reminder to one and all of the coming strength.”

It is all so nice. Such nice theology and such a wonderful idea. While I am fully aware and agree that pain and suffering provide an opportunity for Christian community to witness the works of God and a chance to imitate Christ in carrying the burden and joy of another, I struggle much with the application being the one who is suffering.  I know the famous saying of “Shared joy is doubled joy; shared sorrow is halved sorrow.” I have some first-hand experience but the inertia to not share is strong for this one. Call me ignorant or selfish but most of the time, sharing does not change anything. I still have to go through the pain and I still have to go through the treatments. I am mindful and weary that my long-suffering may cause compassion fatigue and disappointment in the people around me. I have enough struggles of my own and I may not be able to handle the emotions of the people who journey with me. On the other hand, I guess I am also fearful of men’s judgement. I do not want to be looked at differently, I am unwilling to be the subject of discussion and I want my privacy. It is safe.

God did not call us to live a safe life, but a life that conforms to His Sovereignty and one that displays His Glory. It will probably take me a lifetime to fully understand Love, God’s kind, but I was challenged. I was challenged to put what I have learnt in the intellect to practice. I was challenged to now act on what I proclaim to believe. Just like Job, God chastised me. He has called me into a place of full submission, worship and forgiveness. He has also called me into His Love, to taste and see Him. God’s love is too wonderful beyond comprehension. His Love sent Jesus to the Cross. His Love allowed Lazarus to die and then be resurrected, His Love allowed me to go through pain and suffering SO THAT I may be led to the full and endless experience of God – which I was created for. And in doing so, I am given the opportunity to display His Glory. Now that is hard to swallow right? Welcome to the club.

With all these things floating around my world, God lead me to Isaiah 55, vv 10-13 (NASB)

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;

So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

For you will go out with joy
And be led forth with peace;
The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you,
And all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up,
And instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up,
And it will be a memorial to the Lord,
For an everlasting sign which will not be cut off.”

God’s word will not return to Him void, without accomplishing what He has desired and without succeeding in the matter for which He sent it. The same word which had been spoken over me over and over will not return to Him void. It is finished! Instead of the thorn bush, a cypress, known for its longevity, durability and fragrance will come forth. It will be a memorial to the Lord and an everlasting sign which will not be cut off.

I still have no idea on the manner in which His word will come to pass but my heart is satisfied in Him. The verses speak of a permanent and everlasting changed state. It speaks of an evergreen oak that will be a memorial to the Lord. May my life be that ‘memorial’ that when people see me, they see and be reminded of God and His Glory.

How does that work?

So I asked God earlier this year to sort of my “Participation”. I further asked the question regarding the kinds of fruits my life will produce and “How does the Jesus loving me look like?”

Be very prepared for surprises for God answers prayer in much unexpected ways. His ways are always higher than our ways. In the process of sharing my pains with another, I was invited to open up my life, specifically my journey of pain and suffering with the local community, as part of the Body of Christ (WHAT?!). The invitation was to document my prayers and reflections, in sharing, so that the community can follow, pray with me and witness the Glory of God through all these. With an open invitation like this and the Spirit working within me, I could not bring myself to say no. While all of me is screaming NO, I thought I will respond (with risk) this time, so as to not deny the work of the Spirit and to put faith in action. I was reminded that while I have been crucified with Christ, I have nothing to lose but everything to gain.  After all, I exist to bring Glory to Him. May I learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

“How am I to participate?” “How does a Jesus Loving me look like?” I asked… 🙂

11 years

Today marks the 11th anniversary since the day I was given a new lease of life. 11 years ago, I underwent a total hip replacement (THR) surgery. I remember entering the operating theater full of joy knowing that with this provision, I will be able to be mobile again. I’ll be able to move around in a painless manner for once. It was an answered prayer – a new right hip.

11 years later, I find myself facing the prospect of another THR in the near future. The steroid induced avascular necrosis (AVN) of the hip, a side effect to the treatment I underwent 13 years ago for a lupus flare in the form of ulcer pyoderma gangrenosum had progressed. The x-ray at the orthopedics 3 months ago confirmed the Stage 4 AVN. The death sentence had been pronounced and the only treatment option is THR. I knew this all along but had been in denial. For the last 3 years at least, I had been doing whatever I can in order to prolong the lifespan of my left hip with a hope of a miracle before the pain reaches a level beyond my tolerance. However, the mortal body cannot escape the reality of sin and continues to decay.

So how am I different from 11 years ago? I can definitely feel the effect of aging but that is another blog post altogether hah! 11 years later, I am still me. Still battling the same disease but with a few more organs affected this time; still popping tens of pills everyday but had learnt to organise my pills more effectively with an AM-PM pill organiser; still am tired and in pain but had learnt to pause, rest and say no to things; still sustaining a damaged hip and limping in pain (yikes! I finally admit it, but still struggle to accept it) but this time on the other side; still surrounded by loving people and still making my mother very worried. Most importantly though, I am still hopeful despite everything but this time with a slightly clearer sense of what this life is about. I have a story to tell in Him

Life is in no way a bed of roses. Jesus promised that “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows”, but He did not stop there. “But take heart” He continued,”… because I have overcome the world.”

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.” Rom 8:18-19