Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The most depressing day of the year . . .

Factoring in weather conditions, low sunlight levels, holiday debt, time since Christmas, failed new year’s resolutions, and low motivational levels while feeling a need to take action (1/8W+(D-d) 3/8xTQ MxNA), psychology professor Cliff Arnall calculated the third Monday in January to be "Blue Monday": the most depressing day of the year. Somebody take a look at that equation; it looks rather fishy to me. It also doesn't make much sense that "the most depressing day of the year" would fall on a school holiday (Thank you, Martin Luther King Jr.)! To take away even more credibility, Wikipedia claims that the whole idea was just a marketing ploy for a travel company. However, I have learned that sometimes giving a solid reason for irrational feelings can make the feelings appear less permanent or make them go away entirely. So naming "Blue Monday" shows that the January blahs can be waved away with a chuckle and a "pshaw" because we know eventually those factors will melt away and life will be good again.

Unfortunately, one more factor played into our weekend. While still feeling highly motivated to have a productive year, thankful for James' extra income this semester, and looking forward to Valentine's day (although tired of sunless and rainy (!) outdoors), on Friday I decided to walk the dog, carry our laundry to the basement washers and driers, and talk on the phone to my mother all at once. Then, bending over to pick up a sock while on the phone, I felt a sharp twinge in my lower back and started a weekend of excruciating pain.

To tell you that I spent the majority of Friday evening crying, pretty much sums it up. Sitting or standing brought horrible crushing pain that made me feel like my lower spine was being pulverized. Getting from sitting to standing (and vice versa) took my breath away and made tears start again. Lying down just caused a numbing pain. My sweet husband brought home a wonderful heating pad which became the only source of relief for me (600 mg of Motrin did nothing, and I was scared to take more). Any hopes of using our three day weekend to catch up on life or to do something recreational were dashed. All I could do was pray, and that just made me cry more!

Little by little, I have tried to work out the muscles to bring gradual mobility with less pain. In desperation on Saturday, I discovered that kneeling somehow did not hurt as bad as stooping and so made the bed and straightened our room from that position (James was already cooking, doing dishes, walking the dog, and running around for me). Sunday, I went to church and sat stiffly in the pew. I gave up halfway through and lay down in the cry room. Monday, we made an appointment for a professional back massage. It was relaxing, but hardly a cure. Thankfully, each little push past comfort each day has brought more relief. Because it was a three day weekend, I have not had to miss any work. Driving in my car and sitting at work, I have realized what little back support those seats offer, and I am working on remedying that. I'm looking into a visit to the chiropractor and slowly beginning to stretch and exercise my back muscles to strengthen them. Life is seeming a little more bearable day by day.

It is quite a wake up call, though, to be knocked down flat while doing a mundane household chore. It is humbling to know how dependant we are on each muscle and ligament in our bodies behaving properly. But beyond that, we don't have the right to make weekend plans because absolutely nothing is within our control - not even our own back muscles. I say so often, "God willing" but do I really mean it? Am I just saying it so I don't "jinx" myself, or am I really saying "God's will is best; I'd rather do what He has planned for me." I can't say what He planned for me this weekend was what I wanted, but I pray that the pain, the humility, and the submission taught me the lessons He wanted me me to learn.

Here is a verse James shared with me this weekend:

Come, and let us return to the LORD;

For He has torn, but He will heal us;

He has stricken, but He will bind us up.

After two days He will revive us;

On the third day He will raise us up,

That we may live in His sight.

Let us know,

Let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD.

His going forth is established as the morning;

He will come to us like the rain,

Like the latter and former rain to the earth.
Hosea 6:1-3


  1. That verse is kind of funny. I'm praying for you! Back pain is absolutely the worst (except childbirth), and you don't want to have any permanent problems. God bless. (By the way-have you seen that Lucy and Dougle just went to Moscow? I'm so jealous!)

  2. It was kind of a funny verse. Especially at the moment, but that was James' encouraging verse for me, so I kept it! I'm doing much better, by the way.

    Yes, I have seen Lucy and Dougal's updates. It is really, really cool. Moscow has changed so much though; they are going to have an even tougher job of reaching people than we did!


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