I hate complaining, I really do. I’ve been very intentional about not airing my frustrations to the world on Facebook because I don’t mean to come across as attention-seeking. It used to be that if I needed to vent, I would do so on my blog, because I didn’t really think much of anybody even read it so it was more like just journaling. Now, however, according to my stats, people are actually reading what I write here, so I think I need to be a little more mindful of that in my blogging as well.

The other thing that occurred to me tonight is that keeping myself from complaining shouldn’t just be to preserve how I’m perceived, but because I want to become someone who can still find joy even in the midst of pain — to reflect God working in me through all this, or at least to reflect a trust that He’s working even if I can’t see it.

I used to be that way. But I’ve been going through a several-month period of feeling spiritually dry, for reasons that I think I’ve figured out and will write about later, and I’ve let my sense of joy become too dependent upon my happiness (I’ll be writing about joy later as well). With that in mind, I’m going to make not complaining a step towards readjusting my mindset about God and life when the latter is ugly.

Here’s an explanation of the backstory behind my complaints, and this will be the last I’ll talk about it, at least in the “woe is me” way:

Since April of last year, I’ve been dealing with stomach pain that is pretty constant — usually it’s low-grade enough that it’s more just an annoyance than anything, and I don’t think much of it, but anywhere from a few times per week to a few times per day it gets worse to the point that little things like moving and walking are difficult. There have been a few episodes that it’s gotten bad enough that I really couldn’t even do much more than lay curled up in bed.

The really bad episodes used to be few and far enough between that I still thought of them as negligible because they didn’t really interfere with much, so aside from some bloodwork and an ultrasound last summer, which came back clean, I had pretty much just been ignoring it and learned to deal pretty well when it wasn’t so easy to ignore.

Near the end of spring semester this year, though, the instances where the pain was borderline incapacitating started happening too often, so I got more serious about figuring out what’s going on. So far, there have been several more rounds of bloodwork (some of which came back abnormal, which I’m oddly thankful for), a scope (which found inflammation, though we’re not exactly sure what caused it), and a gall bladder function test. I’ve also been on a variety of different meds, none of which seem to be making a difference, which is another area of confusion.

I’ve let myself get worn down by all this. I could make a good case for myself as to why I have the right to be worn down, but I’m done with that. I can make a better case for why I can still feel joy.

God has blessed me with doctors who are taking me seriously and who, thus far, seem really dedicated to finding out what’s wrong. He has also blessed me, if not with a clear-cut diagnosis, with enough little things that indicate, scientifically, that there is something wrong and that it’s not just all in my head. He’s blessed me with, for the most part, a strength that can only have come from Him to be able to get through classes and work on the harder days. He’s blessed me with a family who is supporting me through it, and with friends who are more than willing to pray, and with an incredibly unique academic environment in which the professors can show far more grace (and have done so) than if I were in almost any traditional setting. And I am blessed because God knows why, even if nobody else does.

Even when it hurts, even when there’s no answer, God is good. I want to live as a testament to that.


One thought on “Joy

  1. Bethany, this was beautiful. Joy has such a relevant role in our life, and you’ve touched a subject that has been on my mind for the last month and a half. As to your stomach pains, I had no idea such craziness was going on in your life, but I am thankful I do now. I’m praying for you.

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