Holy Pain

The language of pain is most articulate when it is spoken through the portal of blessing.

I thought I knew pain. Not quite.

Some three years ago while on a routine visit to the children's hospital, I discovered a deep emotional prognosis. While the infant's parents wept, I stood more curious over the anomaly. He was born without a jaw coupled with a hole in his heart. It was my first time to actually see an open chest cavity amazingly covered by a sophisticated plastic clear-wrap. After praying, I tried to force empathy with manufactured tears but there was none to drop. Something has gone wrong with my vocational core.

I don't know what I was thinking but I prayed: "Lord, I need your help. I think my heart has been numbed by years of religious pretension. Please set me free. Release my heart to feel what you feel. I beg to be ordained by your mercy."

God truly knows a serious prayer. He answers swiftly.

I was diagnosed with a rare mandibular anomaly. The only cure was resection. My lower jaw and lower teeth had to be removed. My leg fibula bone becomes donor for replacement. My thigh flesh will be harvested for skin and gum grafts. I was discreetly told to practice smiling with my eyes and perhaps adopt a slurred speech. It was a 12 hour microsurgery performed by Dallas' two finest surgeons. The only consolation was its benign nature.

For more than two years, I got inducted to the intermediate class of pain. The physical strain was peripheral to the psychological weight that never left. I was on a liquid diet while watching my body lose its mass. Words are too rigid to describe the tectonic jargon that took place every single day.

I was introduced to agony's middle name.

Through this long journey, there was one indescribable reality that subverted my heart. I began to know what it truly means to feel. My affections have been altered by the divine scalpel.

It has been three years since. The scars are settled but wild. The twenty-one titanium screws in my mouth have remained vise-gripped. I still tilt to the right if I fail to engage my core muscles. I have lost my Asian accent. I now sound more like a gagged Sean Connery.

But my heart has undergone a transplant: I finally know what it means to cry for my brothers and sisters.

I wish I had this pain earlier.