Taking Off the Brave Face: Trusting God with Our Pain and Healing

By Amy Allender

God's Brave Women - Amy's Story


In a swift and unexpected decline, I transformed from a strong, 27-year-old fitness instructor to a woman dependent on pain killers, barely able to maneuver a vacuum across the floor.


Since undergoing surgery following a freak spinal injury, I felt betrayed by my body—once dependable and strong, it had failed me. I felt betrayed by my mind—once sharp and sure, it was overcome with depression. I felt betrayed by my God—where was He in all this pain?


Why didn’t He take this away?


Where is the joy His Spirit yields?


Was I doing faith wrong?


These questions gnawed at me, growing more frantic as days filled with pain melted into weeks and months. Anxiety’s edginess and depression’s lethargy began to isolate me.


On the outside I said and did the right things. When I was required to leave the house, I found energy to put on mascara and a clean shirt. I went to church. I found the right, optimistic words to describe how I was coping since surgery.


“I’m taking it one day at a time.”


“I’m just grateful I am still able to walk.”


“Hopefully things will get better with time.”


“God is in control.”


You, dear friend, may not have experienced spinal surgery, chronic pain, or depression—but I’m sure you’ve walked through hardship. We’ve all donned the proverbial brave face at some point. We’ve pulled on jeans and a smile—even when we feel like sweats and tears. We’ve spoken assurances to those who inquire—hoping to convince them, and ourselves of the optimism.


Concealing pain and grief is a lonely business, isn’t it?


 

"We’ve all donned the proverbial brave face at some point... We’ve spoken assurances to those who inquire—hoping to convince them, and ourselves of the optimism. Concealing pain and grief is a lonely business, isn’t it?

 

I prayed often, fervently asking God for a miracle. I plead from the pit of my soul for Him to resurrect the person I used to be; a person without chronic pain, depression and spiritual upheaval.


Eventually, the line between communicating with the Almighty God and wishing with all my might became blurry and confused. I wanted my old life back. I had stopped praying with a heart of humility and worship. Instead I was simply closing my eyes to wish.


 

"The line between communicating with the Almighty God and wishing with all my might became blurry and confused. I wanted my old life back. I had stopped praying with a heart of humility and worship. Instead I was simply closing my eyes to wish."

 

In the recesses of my mind words spoken during a surgical follow up echoed, “We need to face reality. The surgery may have failed. The pain may never go away.”


One day, I finally confronted those words. When I did, all the anger, confusion and betrayal I felt boiled down into one word: Fear.


Above all else, I was afraid.


What if this was my new life? What if chronic pain was my long-term reality? Did my faith depend on getting what I wanted? Or, could I be brave enough to trust God—even if life looked different than I’d imagined?


 

"Did my faith depend on getting what I wanted? Or, could I be brave enough to trust God—even if life looked different than I’d imagined?"

 

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Could I find courage to believe God could work this situation out for my good?


More miraculous than an end to pain would be restoration of joy, clarity of faith, and passion for worship—despite the condition of my body. Pain relief can come from pills, surgeons and science. But, thriving in contentment and peace in the face of darkness is a miracle that can only come from the hand of God. Would He do that for me?


 

"More miraculous than an end to pain would be restoration of joy, clarity of faith, and passion for worship—despite the condition of my body.... Thriving in contentment and peace in the face of darkness is a miracle that can only come from the hand of God."

 

I wanted to believe, to trust. But I was afraid.


This fear is a trap set by our enemy. If we are afraid to trust God’s willingness to do good for us, we may forfeit bigger miracles He wants to extend our way. If we are brave enough to let go of our own ideals, we can open our hearts to something bigger.



 

"If we are afraid to trust God’s willingness to do good for us, we may forfeit bigger miracles He wants to extend our way. If we are brave enough to let go of our own ideals, we can open our hearts to something bigger."

 

On a warm, late summer day in 2014 I stubbornly told the voice of doubt to, “Pipe down.” I said a new prayer:


“God, I’ve been wishing for things to change. I still want things to change—but more than that, I want my heart aligned with Yours. Today, I come before You to apologize for placing my desire in front of Your holiness. I want to intentionally declare that You are my God. I choose to believe that You are good, You are my Savior, You are the One True God—whether the pain stays or goes. Redeem this pain into something for Your glory. If the pain stays, equip me to live in joy and not fall into the temptation of negativity. Teach me to trust You more deeply. Amen.”


This new perspective changed everything for me.


God is true to His Word. While I still struggle with pain, He has led me into a life of joy and redemption. The pain—which I so desperately wanted gone, became a catalyst for miracles. Because of it, God was able to provide healing to deep emotional wounds and toxic thought patterns I never thought I could overcome. Because I found the courage to trust, I have healing I didn’t know I needed and victory I didn’t realize existed on this side of eternity.


 

"The pain—which I so desperately wanted gone, became a catalyst for miracles. Because of it, God was able to provide healing to deep emotional wounds and toxic thought patterns I never thought I could overcome."

 

And the sweetest part is, this exists for you too.

Be brave, dear one. God is for you.


 

Brave Woman Manifesto


Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story.

And by the way...


You are Brave!


No matter what you are facing, God has made you in His image, which means He equips you with His courage, strength, and power. I would love to connect more and give you a FREE gift - the BRAVE WOMAN MANIFESTO: Five Things to Tell Yourself When Life Gets Hard. Click HERE to sign up for my monthly newsletter and you’ll receive the FREE Manifesto, as well as recent blog posts, updated resources and personal details delivered only to my empowered email tribe.


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About Amy


Since fully recovering from lifelong anxiety and depression in 2016, Amy Allender has become a mental health advocate, especially for those in military and Christian communities. Her own journey to mental health influences how she approaches every facet of life, especially marriage, mothering and her work as a writer and speaker.


Amy is currently writing her first book, a memoir detailing her stubborn refusal to succumb to suicide and the realization that God’s goodness can triumph in all circumstances.


Connect with Amy on Instagram @amy_allender for everyday encouragement and connection. Information about speaking and coaching services can be found on her website, amyallender.com, where you can also sign up to receive her monthly newsletter and free resources.