Some topics have such an ever present place in our struggles that they are hard to write about. This is my nitty gritty. I am no expert, but I walk myself through this particular trial every single morning of my life. I wake up, carefully roll to the edge of the bed and swing my legs down as I push my upper body up. I sit on the edge of the bed for a moment catching my breath and finding my bearings. This movement is the first of countless painful ones I endure every day. Right now it hurts to breathe. I have a compression fracture in my spine at T12. That is just one of the many damaged areas in my body, but it also happens to be the freshest. I wish I could tell you something exciting happened to cause all of this, like I hiked Everest and tried to ski down, parasailed and the cord snapped, or I fell into an empty cement mixer and it ran for an hour before they found me. Instead, I took Cipro for an infection nine years ago and it robbed me of my health. It’s not breaking medical news anymore. The FDA has released the warnings, albeit far too late for me and thousands upon thousands of others. More than twenty- three something surgeries later, I just want to stop counting. My joints and spine are wrecked. This is me now, whether I like it or not.
Ninety percent of the time, I accept my situation, and that life doesn’t look the way I’d pictured. The other ten percent of the time, I grieve the self I lost. I miss the Amy that was a volleyball server, hiker, roller coaster enthusiast, and the Amy that could kneel on her knees when she prays. Sometimes the frustration and tears well up and spill out my eyes without my consent. It’s my reminder that I am still working through this on a daily basis.
A few things lift me to my spiritual feet when no other earthly thing can. One of those things is gratitude. On the worst days of suffering, I force myself to remember what I have as opposed to what I don’t. I have everything I need to spiritually survive this. I have people who love me and people whom I love. I even try to thank God for the things I’m currently not having to suffer. I can be thankful for a blanket when I know others don’t even have that. Everything of comfort and human survival is a blessing we should be thankful for. Breath, food, a bed, a coat, clothing; those are all things that someone else may not have and would view as a gift. Listing blessings helps me remember how blessed I already have been. We serve a God who can communicate to us in the smallest of ways. God’s whispers and reminders are sometimes so subtle you have to intentionally look for them, but His leading, wisdom, and even His chastisement are blessings of love we should be thankful for.
I remind myself that Jesus came to earth to suffer all that humanity had to dish out. He endured it with patience and grace. He did it willingly because He loved us more than Himself. Even He didn’t think He was above having to suffer. Why should I ever think I should be exempt from suffering? Am I above the Son of God? Should I escape what even He didn’t? It humbles me and reminds me that He did all of that for us. He understands our suffering and sheds mercy on us. He promises not to leave us comfortless in our suffering.
John 14: 17&18
“Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”
There is promise in our suffering, and being a follower of Christ does not exempt us from suffering. If anything, the scriptures promise that we will be sufferers for the sake of Christ. For us to be a credible witness and example of Christ, we must suffer in the same manner that the rest of humanity does and do so while still shining the love and grace of Jesus.
Psalm 34:18 “The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all. He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.
Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate.
The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.”
I had to ask myself some questions a while back. My extent of patience with these physical trials had been exhausted. My physical pain hit a crescendo, and my faith was deflating. I had prayed in frustration to God. I was questioning His being so quiet while I was suffering so intensely and asking Him questions I don’t have the wisdom or place to ask. I realized something in voicing these things. What if Jesus asked me the same questions which He would have every right to ask? Amy, why do you allow my suffering to such an extent? Why don’t you talk to me more? Why do you grieve me so? Do you like to see me suffer because you aren’t fixing fill in the blank? Amy, do you forget what I’ve already suffered for you? Do you really love me, no matter what? You promised to help me, but now it seems you aren’t.
These thoughts hit like a juggernaut gut punch. Humility slammed me down like Wile E. Coyote launching the anvil that inevitably always slingshots back and crushes him. I was angry and praying accusing questions I’d never want God to turn and ask me. That isn’t exemplifying charity to God. He is continually extending charity and grace to me, and I failed in that moment to meet God in humility and charity. I had to repent; but even in His great mercy, He communicated with me and convicted me of this.
2nd Corinthians 1: 6-7
“And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope of you is steadfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.”
God is continually teaching me lessons through suffering that I could never understand without experiencing pain. Those lessons are for my salvation. That is some consolation to me through this trial. God is wise and I am not. I should probably turn that into a mental chant for myself.
In the last nine years I’ve watched God birth beautiful things from my trials. My life has to be a labor of love for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I have to push hardest when it hurts the worst. The end result will be something beautiful if I don’t give up. In this crucible I carry, I’ve been presented with opportunities that would have never been offered, had I not been suffering these things. I’ve gotten to warn millions about the dangers of the Fluoroquinolone family of antibiotics. I’ve been able to witness my love of God on the radio multiple times, through writing a book, my blog, and through this magazine you read now. This has given me a mission that I try my best to remember on my worst days.
2nd Corinthians 1:4
“Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
My goal and passion are held in this verse. I desire to bring you hope in whatever you suffer. I can only do that by sharing the comfort that God has offered me in my suffering as well. We all carry burdens. We all experience the same human emotions and ups and downs, regardless of the diverse ways in which we can suffer here on earth. God is good and always has been. His ways are wise. He loves us. He wants us to make it back home to Him. He desires for us to reciprocate the same huge love and dedication to Him that He feels for us, just as a parent loves their child and desires their child to love them and trust them in return. I’m striving to walk closer to Him every day. That is the foundation of my spiritual survival. I have to remember that this life stopped being about my goals and desires the day I was baptized and promised to be a follower of Jesus Christ. In that moment, my life became about Him. That’s where the rubber meets the road. That’s the nitty gritty.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Jesus laid down His life for me. He is my friend. There is no greater way for me to show my love for Him than to also lay down my life and desires for Him. This is what helps me roll out of bed in pain day after day. This is what comforts, leads, and refreshes me. This is what brings me to share my testimony and put one foot in front of the other, physically and spiritually. Endure to the end, whether the end be by miracle or the reuniting with my Savior and Father in Heaven. God bless you.