CAMINANDO

This is a story in progress, but it needs to be written because it will make whatever happens in the future that much more impactful. I’m currently sitting at the Toronto Airport, on my way to a pilgrimage in Rome (with a quick detour to the Netherlands) after living in Lima, Peru, for three months. There are a lot of things going through my mind: Can I really drink this water even though it’s from the tap? Can I put my toilet paper in the toilet again? Everyone speaks English?

While in Lima, I joined a gym that focused on functional training (CrossFit-esque) instead of traditional weight and cardio training. I was loving it until about two weeks ago. In the middle of an exercise, which featured squatting with a medicine ball and running back and forth, I felt an excruciating pain in my hip and lower back. I tried to do a few more reps, but I had to stop. My trainer and I modified the rest of my workout, and I left thinking that the pain would be gone by the next day. It wasn’t. In true Amanda fashion, I proceeded to ignore the pain for about two weeks. There was pain when I walked. There was pain when I put on pants in the morning. Just about every normal activity brought pain, not helped by the fact that our elevator was broken, resulting in me climbing eight floors of stairs multiple times a day. After two weeks, I couldn’t ignore it anymore. It was becoming too much. Though I didn’t know exactly what was wrong, I knew that the pain mimicked that of the pain I had on the opposite side that resulted in two hip surgeries years ago.

Right before the injury happened, I had a few friends text me saying that I kept coming up in prayer. They asked if there was anything specific they could be praying for. It’s funny how the Lord takes care of us before we even know what we need.

I called my mom and asked for her advice. She made an appointment with my surgeon for after I arrived home, and she recommended that I talk to her friend, who is a physical therapist. I did, and she introduced the idea that I could have injured my SI joint, not just my hip, due to the way I injured it and where I was feeling pain. She gave me an exercise to help and cautioned me against extra activity. Immediately, I thought about my upcoming pilgrimage to Rome. How would I do a pilgrimage in Rome if walking was painful? My heart sunk as I considered the possibility of cancelling my trip to Rome. This was on Friday (a week ago).

All weekend, I deliberated. I talked to friends that I trusted. I prayed. I had no idea what to do. If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you know that the Lord has miraculously healed me before. Was He asking me to step out in faith with potential healing in sight and go to Rome? Was He asking me to be prudent, surrender my desires, and go home? Was there a reason I needed to be home earlier?

When I talked to my mom again on Saturday, she offered to call my surgeon to see if he had any earlier appointments. I decided to make a bold ask of the Lord in order to seek clarity: “if it’s Your will for me to go to Rome, I ask that there wouldn’t be any appointments available during the time that I’ll be there. However, if it’s Your will for me to go home, I ask that somehow, You would make an appointment available during the time that I would be in Rome.” Note that this was not asked in a transactional way, and it was not the end-all-be-all. It was simply an ask for clarity. That day, the Mass readings were centered around healing, and I heard the Lord asking me what I wanted to do. I DON’T KNOW! I silent-shouted at Him. That’s why I’m asking You! My heart was jumping back and forth. It would be easier to go home. But… the Mass readings made me feel encouraged at the prospect of healing.

On Sunday, my dad told me that I should go to Rome and pray for a miracle. That was food for thought. My heart was still jumping back and forth. However, in prayer that day, I realized I was believing a lie, which was this: Jesus didn’t want to heal me, and He wasn’t going to. I already had my healing. I was done. He didn’t find me worthy of healing. Oof. Jesus cut that down real fast. Continuously, He spoke this truth into my heart: I find you worthy of healing. I find you worthy of helping.

On Monday, my mom called me. The earliest appointment my surgeon had was on May 9th. I was supposed to arrive back from Rome on May 8th. I laughed out loud. In prayer, I felt much more peace with going. I no longer had a desire to go home. Early Tuesday morning, I texted Alli, who is putting together the pilgrimage, and told her that I would be going. She responded and immediately asked what she could do to make the pilgrimage more comfortable with me, and even went so far as to research if she could bring crutches with her. She also offered to bring me ice packs and a heating pad. I was blown away by her willingness to love me so sacrificially.

At the same time, throughout Tuesday, I was plagued with feelings of unrest and panic about Rome. I was in more pain than I had been in days. With each step I took, my body felt like it was going to cave in on itself. I was also plagued with the lie that I was a burden and that those on the pilgrimage would resent me for being there because I was struggling. When I got home that day, I was physically and emotionally exhausted. What Alli was doing was helping me fight the lie that I was a burden, but it still overwhelmed me. In that desolation, I had absolutely no desire to go to Rome and deal with the suffering that it might contain. I wondered if this meant that the Lord didn’t want me to go to Rome.

When I woke up on Wednesday, I had a lot of wonderful friends—and my spiritual director— who spoke truth into my heart. They advised me that the Lord doesn’t work through feelings of panic, and He certainly doesn’t work through lies; what I had been through on Tuesday sounded a lot like spiritual attack. Of course satan would try to convince me to go against what the Lord was asking me to do. I’m so thankful for them for speaking truth. In confidence, I decided that I would be going to Rome. Then I read the Mass readings for the day. Mark 16:20: “But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.” My daily reflection (from Blessed is She—you should subscribe if you don’t read them already) asked the following questions: Where is the Holy Spirit calling you to go outside your comfort zone? Where are you being called to go deeper? In my journal, I wrote down those questions, and then I wrote down my answer: “Apparently to Rome…”

I was also hit with redemptive suffering during this prayer time. I realized that if the Lord was asking me to go to Rome and potentially suffer a lot of physical pain, I needed to create an intention so that I could offer my suffering up as a prayer. Immediately, I thought of an intention that I had spent the last year praying for that still needs urgent prayers (I won’t disclose that here, but please pray for this intention, though you don’t know what it is). I also realized that if suffering meant complete healing and freedom for this friend, I wanted to do it. I love this friend so deeply that I want to suffer for her. I’m still asking the Lord for healing for myself, but… this is more important. If my suffering on this pilgrimage can be offered up as a powerful prayer for healing and freedom, I’m ready to embrace my suffering and unite it to Jesus’.

Isaiah 53:5 says this: “He bore the punishment that makes us whole. By His wounds we were healed.”  I love my friend deeply enough that I’m ready to embrace suffering to offer up as a prayer for her. I hate suffering, and I hate pain, but I love her more. How much, then, must Jesus love us. My suffering pales in comparison to what Jesus went through for us. He went though that suffering so that we could be healed, so that we could be made whole. And, you know what? He would do it all over again. For you. For me. This truth pierced my heart today. Will you let it pierce yours?

I have no idea what this pilgrimage in Rome holds. It’s possible that I won’t ever see the graces that come from it. However, I know that the Lord wants to do crazy things. Please pray for me, for the strength and courage to face suffering head-on and for the grace to completely depend on the Lord. Please pray for the intention I will be lifting up. Please pray for the intentions my friends will be lifting up, as well.

I can’t wait to give you an update on what happens.

amw

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