Monday, January 2, 2012
dwell: Kristina of Communication Rhodes
“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:6-9
Hello, my name is Kristina from Communication Rhodes and I am simply delighted to have the opportunity to participate in this series. However, I’ll be honest with you. The year of 2011 was a year of great suffering for me.
After graduating from the University of Oregon in 2010, with a major in journalism and public relations, I landed a dream job at a dream agency, here at home, in Portland, Oregon.
Two days after my 23rd birthday, January 27, 2011, I woke keeled over with abdominal pain. I’ve had my share of “womanly problems” over the years, but this type of pain was different. It was deeper and seemed to be throughout my pelvic area. Imagine if someone kicked you in the crotch with a big work boot on, that’s the kind of throbbing pain I’m talking about. The pain came in waves and when it lasted more than a week, I called my doctor. I had numerous visits to the ER, five MRIs and a series of misdiagnosis, and by May the pain was constant and still undiagnosed. I started having to call in sick to work because just getting out of bed and standing was more than I could bear.
Initially, I was in complete denial. When I began to feel the pain, I kept thinking, “you can do it, just work through it,” or “you’re just not trying hard enough.” I am a perfectionist, type-A, only child and complete work-aholic. I have a plan for everything. I have a plan for tomorrow, next week, the next five years and I know exactly where I want to be in ten years. Have you ever watched Gilmore Girls? Let’s just say I see a bit of Paris Geller in myself. When this illness came it didn’t take long for me to realize it was completely out of my control. Nothing I did helped. Nothing. I could not control the situation and I started freaking out.
I cried out to the Lord, sobbing myself to sleep and begging Him to take away this pain. I would literally shake, become nauseated and sweat through my clothes because the pain was so intense. I would pray, “No Lord, this wasn’t in the plan!” “Why did you give me this perfect job, just to take it away?!” “Why do I have to suffer like this for so long?” Why? I dug in my heels and would not let go. I genuinely didn’t know that the human body could endure so much pain. In June, my boss graciously offered me a medical leave from work because sitting for more than fifteen minutes had me in tears and my boss said she was “tortured looking at me in so much pain.” By the time October rolled around, I was told that I had, “exhausted the resources of OHSU.” Doctors I met with didn’t know what was causing my pain or how to treat me. By this point I had taken two medical leaves.
After eight doctors threw up their hands and literally gave up on my case, my family and I did some research and found a clinic in San Francisco that specializes in pelvic pain. The physical therapists at this clinic, not only understood my pain, but also how to treat it. For the first time in eight months I saw a glimpse of what could be. I’m now in follow-up physical therapy here in PDX and while the improvements are small, I am still making them. When I say that I’m making improvements, I mean that I can now walk six houses down my street and back without increasing my pain. This believe it or not, is a vast improvement.
At the end of November, I resigned from my position at work. It just wasn’t fair to keep my boss or my team hanging and I couldn’t honestly provide a return date. My boss was beyond gracious and my team was incredibly kind and supportive. The simple act of letting that go was heartbreaking. I never would have imagined in my worst nightmare that I’d be sitting here in December, still in debilitating pain.
Now we are rolling into 2012 and I’m still in constant pain, I live with my parents, I need help doing most things and the pain has me housebound. I recently joked to a friend that I live in an assisted living home, but really that’s what it feels like. Literally every aspect of my life has been unplugged. However, I am now starting to see my situation differently. At age five I accepted Christ and was raised by two amazing parents who live their lives passionately for the Lord. Growing up, I read about God’s sovereignty and heard people talk about it, but experiencing it is an entirely different thing. I am starting to see now why scripture talks about how and why we should rejoice in our sufferings. It is a refinement of our faith.
What a blessing to receive this refinement at age 23! I can now take these lessons with me for the rest of my life and live closer to Christ. The Lord is teaching me to lean on Him and to trust Him more and more, day by day. I need Him every hour and I’ve really learned He’s all I need.
He is beginning to pull back the curtain on the lesson in all of this: Relinquishing control and submitting to God’s plan for tomorrow, next week and for my life. I’m starting to focus on my blessings. All in all, God is good. He is sovereign and His plan is perfect.
The following passage is a good summary of what’s been on my heart lately: “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:6-9
Faith is a gift, the most precious kind. What an even greater gift to have a Heavenly Father love so deeply that He refines our faith in the fire! It’s the fire and the suffering part that’s painful, excruciating really. Even through I may not always feel the Lord’s presence, I know that He is there and I know that He will never leave me.
That’s where I’m at right now. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I’m grateful for the incredible support team (my family, friends and church community) that the Lord has provided for me and for the way that He’s changing my heart to see Him more clearly and trust Him more fully. My story isn’t mine alone to right, but rather is held in the sovereign hand of God. I trust that He loves me more than I’ll ever be able to understand and more than my current circumstances would lead me to believe.