I was driving my son to his Dad’s, or at least attempting to. But there was this hatchet lodged behind my right eye. Pain radiated throughout the right side of my face creating an increasing gurgling in my stomach until I finally pulled into the gas station and said, “I don’t think I can do this.”
“Do what?” my son asked.
“Drive,” I explained. I couldn’t go on. I had to lie down. I had to rest, had to close my eyes, had to shut out the piercing lights and the sounds before I got sick in the car.
I tried to locate my phone to make some alternate arrangements but naturally, I’d left it at home. I wanted to scream and cuss and cry all at once. I can’t do this, I thought. I just can’t do this.
I had my son text his Dad and the phone rang promptly as we pulled out of the gas station. To my surprise, I heard my son reporting that I was driving and “fine now.” Again, I wanted to scream. Why couldn’t anyone see that I wasn’t fine? I hadn’t been fine in five years. That just because I was doing what had to be done didn’t mean I was fine? Why was my pain invisible? He turned and asked, “We should be able to make it in thirty minutes, right?” I mumbled a feeble ”Yep.” Both of the kids fell asleep in the car and I spent the remainder of the trip thinking about the invisible pain we carry.
I asked my husband this morning what the hardest part of my illness(es) were on him. He said it was the demand to meet the various needs, the dishes that had to be done at one am followed by an early morning drive with the kids and then a presentation at work. I wondered aloud if anyone really realized how hard he was working to meet all of the demands placed on him, if they understood in the smallest way what it meant to be him—or if his pain was invisible, too.
Yesterday, in the car, I thought about my days as a runner, when my body would start telling me that it couldn’t, that it wanted to quit and I would remind it that it could and that quitting wasn’t an option.
I realize now, how much carrying this invisible pain is like running those races—reminding yourself to put one foot in front of the other. Pushing on. Telling your body that you can and that quitting is not an option…except now there is no one cheering you on as you run, no prize at the finish line. No one even knows you’re running in the race today. When you collapse in your bed at the end of the day—having crossed the finish line and survived another day—there is no thunderous applause to be found. There are no stats to be entered on Facebook for others to congratulate you on, no slimming figure for others to comment on. There’s just you faithfully putting one foot in front of another, running the race before you. Click To Tweet
Maybe your invisible pain is a crippling grief from the loss of a loved one. Maybe no one knows what an accomplishment it is that you make it through just one more day without your dear one.
I see you.
Jesus sees you.
You are not running your race in vain.
Great will be your reward.
I cheer you on.
I know some days it’s hard to see anything but our own pain, but can I invite you today to reach out to someone else? To meet them in their pain and let them know that not only is it not invisible but that they are not invisible? Could you remind them that their faithfulness matters?
For today, can I be the thunderous applause found as you cross the finish line?
You did it. You pushed through. You pushed past the pain when you thought you couldn’t and today —–I celebrate you.
Know that you are seen