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When I was fifteen, I was the typical teen who knew everything there was to know and had everything planned out for my life. That all changed in December of 2013 when I began to have intense pain in my chest. During that time, I was participating in two plays and our church choir’s cantata. After going to our family doctor, who diagnosed it as chest inflammation, she prescribed an anti-inflammatory medication and sent me on my way.

No change.

I ended up pushing myself through both plays and cantata, going home in the most excruciating pain I had every felt in my entire life. In a matter of two years it had spread to my extremities, back, and head. In that span of time, I saw virtually twenty different doctors in several fields, and the only diagnosis I have been given that is even close to the true condition is Amplified Pain Syndrome, which, in short, means that my nerves are in a constant state of pain and are in what I have termed the “dormant” phase. What this means is if you put my pain on a scale of 1 to 10, my average pain is around a 5 and never below that. When it is triggered by extreme heat, extreme cold, physical exertion, stress, or over-stimulus, such as being in a mall, or other places with lots of people talking at once, that quickly increases to between a 7 and worst cases up to 10.

I spent many a day just laying in bed, unable to move without sending pain all across my body. There have been many times where I have just felt like giving up and letting my life waste away. But, as I was being bruised and battered by the waves in this part of my life, a moment of illumination came to me. I fell on my knees and prayed, something I had not done full heartily in a long time.

Growing up in a pastor’s family, I was familiar with the Word of God. Though receiving His gift of salvation at a young age, I did not fully understand it all. I could never understand why God would allow bad things to happen to good and righteous people. I was so angry at my Father for allowing this condition to plague me that, for a while, I stopped doing my daily devotion and Bible study. My church attendance was sporadic because people were constantly assaulting me with questions and their solutions and suggestions, all of which I had already tried.

Finally, one warm Wednesday morning, I stormed out of our home, walked into our church sanctuary, and knelt before the altar, laying my anger and lack of understanding at my Father’s feet, asking Him why He had allowed this to happen to me. He pointed me to the Book of Job and how He allowed the devil to have his way with Job in order to test his faith. He also led me to the story of Joseph, how He used the evil deed of brothers throwing him in a pit to bring him to a place as second to Pharaoh in all of Egypt. This enabled him to save his family and others from the famine that swept the land. And, finally, God reminded me of the story of my Lord, Jesus, the one and only Son of God, who endured an excruciating death on a cross to be the sacrificial Lamb, taking our place and dying for our sins, so that we could enjoy eternity with our Heavenly Father.

It all finally clicked with me. I felt a joy I had not felt in the months since pain had taken over my life. My Father was molding me like a potter with His clay, preparing me for the mighty work He was going to do in and through me.

As a storyteller, I write to explore my own life authentically, no matter how raw it may be, and I invite you to join me, so that maybe you can find encouragement for your journey as well.