by Katie Smylie
September 20, 2017
In my 20’s I can remember sitting in a doctor’s office with lower back pain. He told me I was carrying around some extra weight and when I lost those pounds, it would feel better. After that visit with “Dr. Shame,” I walked out with my shoulders sagging. “I did it to myself.” The weight of shame just made it feel worse.
A few (just a few) years later, and now I have a rock star husband, four beautiful children and yet I also still have that achy back. It has expressed itself in different ways, but the ache comes and goes with time. Exercise is beneficial, but it’s just that my season of life does not often cooperate with the gym. I have tried reasoning with my body and even grumbling about it, but my back has yet to respond to my complaints. There are times when all is well, so I ignore those aches from the past. Then the pain hits harder the next time.
This last year, it hit me. I need help with this pesky back. Maybe I did it to myself, Dr. Shame, but it doesn’t mean I need to figure out how to fix it all alone. My new physical therapist, Dr. Miracle, has investigated and is helping me come up with exercises that will help strengthen my body. Things I can do in the office and at home that will help me retrain my body to use the right muscles at the right time. What a powerful thing it was to get some help!
My body is not the only part of me that has pain. My soul struggles with the demands of my family, the overwhelming evil I see in the news and in the lives of my people. Not to mention the pain I bring on myself because of the sin I cannot seem to master. It is a lot like the back pain . . . there are many ways of coping with emotional pain, but it keeps coming back no matter how hard we try to get around it. The truth is, none of us can avoid the pains of life; poverty, conflicts, illness and betrayal are a constant in this world.
Right around the time I started having back pain, I had been trying pretty hard to manage life all by myself. I had loaded up my tiny car and moved out to California. After at least six months, I was still very much ‘in transition’ and struggling to make spiritual friends. Attending church was important to me, but as soon as it was over, I practically ran to my car to avoid all the friendly people who would certainly ask if I attended a small group.
One day, through a series of circumstances, I found myself visiting a home Bible study. There was nothing exceptional about it; the people were totally human and even a bit wonky. But God’s Word was open and the Spirit was there. It was like taking a long drink on a scorching, dusty day. This was my soul’s ‘Dr. Miracle.’ I didn’t even realize I needed it, but there it was, waiting for me: HELP. Help to retrain my heart to seek God instead of merely coping. Help to laugh with others when I was hurting. Help in prayer. Help in learning how beautiful it is to serve others even when in my own pain.
It’s hard to ask for help or to even acknowledge that it is necessary. But trust me, if you need help you are not essentially bad at your life–you are essentially human.
Where are your weak spots? Where is your pain today? It may be your body or perhaps your heart, but there are areas of pain in every woman’s life. Have you reached out and asked for help? You may have tons of people around you, but still feel lost. If you feel alone, have you tried a very human and perhaps a bit wonky group to find support? Help is here.
Psalm 121:1-2: I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
Katie Smylie is the director of The Pursuit, our Thursday morning women’s Bible study, and also one of the teachers there. She is the wife of Kevin and mom to Steven, Megan, Claire and Luke.