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  • Writer's pictureLorrie L. Richins

I Won't Shake My Fist Towards Heaven

Updated: Sep 26, 2019

I'm handing the pen over to the Lord and letting Him finish writing the epic story of my life.

September 17, 2019

God spoke to me in my language. He had to. The grief was intense and I was pleading for understanding - anything to help make sense of the sorrow which had once again struck our family. God had to make the message simple, something I could easily understand. What I didn’t know then was that the same message would soon be needed under an even more trying circumstance.

February 10, 2018 was the day the message was given. I was sleeping beside our daughter Lilly when I awoke in the early morning hours and quietly began to weep. It was the first night after the orthopedic surgeon had diagnosed her with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL. As a sophomore in high school and a gifted three sport athlete, this was heartbreaking news. I didn’t want her to be alone, so she slept next to me in our master bed so I could comfort her should she awaken crying in the night.

We had been through this multiple times before as parents - helping our children with disappointment and loss after an athletic injury. We had years of experiencing the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat with our four sons and three daughters on the court or field.

Lilly was the youngest in our family and not only a gifted athlete, but a natural leader. She had more trophies and triumphs than the rest of our children combined. She grew up with older siblings adoring and mentoring her and was by nature ultimately being groomed for great success in sports and in life.

As I lay next to Lilly in the night, I ached for her loss. Her older sister Elizabeth had also torn her ACL in basketball. Also a gifted athlete, Elizabeth was a senior and captain of the team playing her second game of the season when the injury occurred. We were fully aware now with Lilly what she would experience emotionally and physically with the surgery and afterwards with the demanding rehabilitation therapy on her path to recovery.

In the darkness of the room and with Lilly to my right tucked underneath the covers, I found myself saturated with the same sadness I had felt when Elizabeth was injured years before. I personally understood suffering well. Overcoming the pain of my own past personal trauma took a tremendous amount of strength and resilience, and watching our children participate in sports and other activities was a positive distraction, a time of relief and quiet joy. To bear the weight of my children’s sadness as well as the loss of watching them play was a difficult combination.

Unable to sleep, I conversed with God yearning for answers. I understood that there is value in allowing us as His children to experience pain and afflictions. But, I prayerfully pleaded, if we are expected to experience the bad, why can’t we at least be allowed to keep the good…the good that gives us joy to help us cope with the bad?

The wonder and worry dissipated when the following answer floated gently into my mind: Lorrie, you ask this of Me because you don’t know the rest of the story. You only know the portion now that has the pain.

I’m a writer. I knew what the message meant. I could see in my mind that this sorrow and disappointment was only a small part of the bigger story…as if I was experiencing first hand the dramatic events within a middle chapter of a consequential book. All good books have highs and lows. I was currently in the valley unable to see the view from the mountain top, but somehow I knew ascension would eventually come.

Lilly soon underwent surgery and labored diligently for months during the rehabilitation process. We were all especially thankful that there would be enough time to completely recover before her senior year began. And recover she did. She eventually became stronger and faster than before. She savored being able to play at full force again and had visions and goals of potential state championships in two of her sports. Coaches and teammates were counting on her contributions on the court. She gave all she had to the sports, coaches, and players she loved.

And then the unthinkable occurred.

A simple misplacement of her left foot during a recent volleyball game caused her knee to shift. Pain, swelling, and the inability to fully extend it caused considerable concern. As we sat in the orthoedic surgeon’s office yesterday, he assurred us that the ACL was still intact, but there was damage and buckling of the miniscus in her previously injured knee. Dr. Davis gently explained that surgery would be required with hope for ideal repair, but no promises were made. Only surgery would determine the extent of the damage.

I immediately went over to Lilly on the examination table and sat next to her for added support while questions were asked and answered. Dr. Davis showed us the MRI results and a plan for surgery on Tuesday was put into place.

The body has an amazing ability to brace itself when bad news is given….to somehow stay upright when it feels like buckling over in despair. It wasn’t until we got into the car that the flood of tears from Lilly took over. Fear, frustration, disbelief. It was surreal to experience these emotions all over again. This time, however, she wasn’t a sophomore who would fight to come back strong for her senior year. This was her senior year.

I lay awake through much of last night with Lilly sleeping beside me. The weight on my chest was heavy as I processed the sadness which saturated both of our hearts. Once again I found myself wondering and worrying without understanding God’s divine plan for our lives. I reflected back on the previous counsel about not knowing the rest of the story, but I had forgotten the further counsel I had received that long, lonely night over a year ago when Lilly was first injured. I searched and found the paper upon which I had recorded the much needed guidance. I was humbled by God’s awareness that we would need these words now even more than a year ago. I share them in hopes that the counsel will comfort you in your time of need as they have comforted Lilly and me today.

Lorrie, you have pain because you have purpose. Pain propels you to purpose. Do not reflect on what is lost. Just know that the gain will be worth it. Lilly’s faith is big. Let her experience this trial with your faith blending with hers and something powerful will occur. Trust the process. I am entrusting you both with an experience which will transform into a blessing according to how you handle and embrace it. It can change your future path. I know where it can lead you. I choose to allow you to walk this path for your personal benefit. Trust Me. I am your Father and I shall ever feel after you as My child.

The last sentence was particularly poignant. In the darkness of the night with Lilly beside me, I had felt after her with my hand to make sure she was okay, to touch her gently on her side as a gesture of love and support. I couldn’t take the sorrow or disappointment from her, but I could stay nearby to comfort her until the pain passed. I knew the Lord was doing the same for me.

This I know to be true. Pain is often the price we pay for wisdom. Without pain, the knowledge gained often passes too quickly. Pain creates permanent impressions on our souls if we but let God mold and shape us into the beautiful creations He originally intended us to be. Your story is not finished and neither is mine. If you are currently living a chapter that is laced with difficulty and pain, hang on. Hand over the pen and let the Lord finish writing the epic saga of your life. I, for one, will not be shaking my fist towards heaven as my story unfolds. I will be patient in the valleys so I can eventually rejoice when seeing the glorious view on the mountain tops…

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