The dull ache

These days, the pain that I feel over losing my little girl is more like a dull ache than a piercing pain, but truthfully, I think I would rather have the piercing pain.  With the dull ache, I can’t always identify why it is that I feel the way I feel, whereas with the piercing pain, I am well aware as to what is causing such pain.

To give an example of what I am trying to say, think of a person who has pain and goes to the doctor for treatment.  If a man suffers a knife wound in his side, he is able to go to the doctor, describe the intense excruciating pain, show the doctor exactly where the wound is, and the doctor knows exactly how to treat the wound. The doctor knows that it is a serious wound which will require some intense surgery, but he knows exactly how to treat it because he sees it plain as day.  The doctor knows to prescribe a specific pain killer and antibiotic that will help the wound heal, and the person knows that the prescription will help him.   In his aftercare, the person is still in some serious pain, but he knows exactly where the pain is coming from, so it makes sense to him.  If he is irritable, all he has to do is look down at the blood stained bandage on his arm and he immediately knows why he is irritable.  If he doesn’t feel like socializing, if he doesn’t feel like eating, if he doesn’t feel good period,  he knows that it is a direct result of the intense pain from his injury.

But what about the person that feels an internal pain and goes to the doctor to get treated?  It is a much different scenario.  The person goes to the doctor with pain, but cannot show the doctor any visible sign of his pain.  The doctor doesn’t exactly know what to do because he doesn’t know where the pain is coming from.  The person tries to describe the pain, but he himself isn’t even sure what has been causing the pain.  The doctor asks the person a bunch of different questions to try and get a better understanding of what might be causing the pain.  The doctor asks the man if he has been stressed out at work, thinking perhaps that the pain might be a result of the stress.  He asks about his marriage and whether or not there are relational problems that could be causing the pain.  The person knows that both work and marriage can sometimes cause stress, so he himself goes away thinking that perhaps the pain is just a result of some difficult times at work or bumps in the road of marriage.  But still, deep down inside, he knows that there is still just a nagging pain that seems more than a result of job or marriage stress.

But what happens if he becomes irritable?  Now, he doesn’t know for sure why it is that he is irritable.  It could be the job.  It could be the marriage.  It could be lack of sleep.  It could be the hole in the ozone layer.  It could be the…whatever.  But it also could be because of the pain that he can’t so readily identify.  And what if he feels depressed?  Again, it could be so many factors, but it could also be because of the pain that is now residing beneath the surface of all things.  So, the man can’t put his finger on the cause of the pain.  And the doctor can’t put his finger on it either.  So, the doctor gives some basic recommendations: get a good night’s sleep, eat well, don’t let work stress you out, etc.  He also prescribes a general pain killer even though he isn’t certain that it will really help with the man’s pain.  And the man takes the pain killers, but also does not think it is really going to be the solution.

So, that’s the way that I feel these days.  Sure, I still have moments of intense knife wound type pain.  Those are the times where I just ball my eyes out and realize with every fiber of my being how great my pain is and how much I miss my little girl.  Those are the moments where the pain is so great that I’d rather have my arm sawed off with a dull butter knife than experience the pain that I feel.  And that is absolutely no exaggeration!  And only those who have walked through this kind of loss would understand…and would agree.  But the truth is that those times are still better than the dull ache beneath the surface which permeates everything, but is never identified in anything.  That is the really hard part.  And the only way to describe it is to say that it is like a dull ache…always present, but invisible.

I could bet that a doctor would much rather treat a patient with an easily identifiable knife wound, as serious as it may be, than somebody that came in describing a dull consistent internal pain but not being able to say exactly where it hurts.

I’d rather have the knife wound.  At least with the knife wound, I can make sense of all my other problems (irritability, sadness, apathy, anger, etc) that come with the wound that is so grossly visible.  But with the dull ache, I can’t really do that because I don’t completely know what the source is.  With the dull ache, I don’t know if I am irritable just because I didn’t get enough sleep or if it is because beneath the surface I miss my little girl something fierce.  With the dull ache, I don’t know if I am just being a jerk to my wife because sometimes I’m just a jerk or if it is because I just really long to hold my precious Susana in my arms again.

And then there’s the problem with the remedy or the prescription for the dull ache.  If I know that I have a knife wound type of grief, then I know that all I can do is run to God, ball my eyes out, and allow Him to pour His healing balm upon my heart.  I feel the pain acutely and I am well aware that I need a specific remedy.  But with the dull ache, I don’t always see it like that.  So, instead of running to God with something so acute, I tend to try and medicate in my own foolish ways.  It is a dull ache.  I can’t really even see that I’m hurting.  So, I don’t see this extreme need to run into the Father’s presence.  Instead, I find myself checking out and watching television for hours, not really knowing why.  Or ignoring my time alone in God’s Word, not really knowing why.  Or becoming apathetic to the world around me, not really knowing why.  Or doing anything else that would be a means of medicating a pain that I can’t even really identify.  And then I hit a wall and God shows me the error of my ways.  And then I weep with sorrow over the fact that the One, the only One who is able to heal me and comfort me, is the One that I have been running from.

All because of the dull ache that I feel over losing my baby girl.  Or is it?  See, that’s the problem with the dull ache.  I don’t know what the cause is of my demise.  Is it the pain that I still feel over Susana?  Or is it just because I am a sinner and live in a broken world?  That’s the problem with the dull ache.  It’s hard to identify.  I mean, I know that I miss my little girl more than anything.  I think about her every single day.  Tears have filled my eyes more than once while typing this post.  When I do finally run to God and confess my sin of forsaking Him, my tears are mixed with both repentance and sorrow over turning away from God and tears of sorrow over missing Susana.  So, I know that some of my foolishness is because I miss her so much, but with the dull ache, it is still hard to distinguish what is causing what.

So, that’s a little glimpse into my world these days.  But one thing that I am most thankful for is my Great Physician who knows me better than I know myself.  And He knows the remedy for both the knife wound pain and the dull ache pain.  I am thankful that He is with me through it all.  And in my pain, I just ask the Lord that He would use it to change me for His glory.

4 thoughts on “The dull ache

  1. I’d rather have the knife wound too. And…the sawed off arm with the dull butter knife. I get this. Totally! As a result, I’m amping up my prayers for you.

  2. I won’t stop praying for you, Maria, the children, Eveline, the other kids and all of Haiti. This world is a hard place to be sometimes.

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