A Severe Mercy

A little while ago I mentioned in passing pain in my thumbs.
It’s something I’ve had on and off for four years. We went to the doctor about it once, but nothing was concluded. The pain went away for a while. It came back in April during YOME, and then was gone, to my relief, all through Csehy and I hoped for good.
My oboe exam was over and I took a few days off oboe, then picked it up to prepare for a wedding. Somewhere between then and the wedding, the pain came back – and badly. We went to the doctor again, and this time were able to pinpoint some causes of the pain – things like piano tuning and the thumb slipping around in the joint and being hyper mobile.
The doctor ordered rest, but well, I can’t exactly rest with a wedding 2 weeks away. Even so, we said no tuning, no knitting, no crocheting, limited typing, and only wedding music for oboe and piano.

Christmas came and went with minimal pain.

I frosted cupcakes for the wedding, and there was some pain, but not much.

I survived a 2 hour music practice for the wedding, then the wedding. The pain wasn’t bad, but it was there.
During my week off, it didn’t go away. I saw another doctor partway through that week, and we banned knitting forever once I finished my blanket.

The week ended, and we started slowly adding things back, starting with oboe. Playing again was so wonderful, but I couldn’t do very much – 10 minutes and then a 5 minute break, and I couldn’t do that for more than 45 minutes.
The past month has been really, really hard as I’ve rested and slowly added back. January 26th was the first time since December 28 I played more than one song on the piano. Pain came back last week after I picked up and carried little kids all evening – so I have to be careful with that. I can’t type as much as I used to, and have an afghan I really want to finish crocheting. I want to play the piano again for real, not with tape on my hands and being ever-so-careful that my thumb doesn’t slip out of joint or that there’s not too much tension on octaves. Piano tuning may be left for a long time, maybe forever.

But one day as I was sitting and praying about it, the phrase “severe mercy” came to mind. I wanted life to be back to normal. The rest was over; I wanted normal (and then I read “Loving the Little Years” about re-setting ‘normal’ as you grow and circumstances change. The ‘new normal’ is less computer and music time, and learning to keep my hands still so I don’t run them out of commission again).
Then I started thinking about how crazy the past month would have been if I’d tried keeping up with music and tuning and crocheting and heavy story editing on top of all the weddings and gatherings and books I wanted to read. I would’ve always been focused on getting home so I could get back to work, instead of focusing on where I was now.
“Wherever you are, be all there,” is something attributed to Jim Elliot, and is something I want to do. But it took God pulling out many of the things I filled my time with and getting my priorities straight, and realizing that His commands aren’t about the books and music we write or the enjoyment we get out of playing piano and oboe, or the reward a tuned piano can be, but about Him and others.
During this time, I was reading “It’s (Not That) Complicated” and was convicted of not really investing in people. I started to see every social function as an opportunity to serve and minister to others. Now that we don’t have as many of those going on, I actually miss them and find myself wanting to serve and be around people and seek to encourage them and spur them on to Christ.

It’s been a hard month, and there maybe be many more long, hard days, weeks, months, maybe years ahead. The hardest part right now is being ‘in limbo’ where I don’t know exactly what all this will mean long term. But all the same, this time of rest has been good and I’m excited to see how it all plays out, hard though it may be. Those of you who have known and have been praying, thank you so much. There were days I wondered what in the world was going on, whatever could He be doing; I thought these were things He wanted me to do. But I’m so glad He flipped the perspective for me and helped me re-set normal, and understand the pain in my thumbs as a mercy, albeit a severe one.
He is good.

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