crying woman

From Fears to Tears

In a previous blog post, I’m Scared, Lord, I wrote about my apprehensions concerning my upcoming hip replacement surgery. My doctor was cheerfully confident that I would not experience the post-operative pain I was afraid of, but I was all-too-aware of my potential complications. As a polio survivor, I’m twice as sensitive to pain as those whose brains were not infected by the poliovirus.

On top of that, I was extremely aware of the fact that my severely arthritic hips had become basically frozen, leaving me with a limited range of motion. I knew that the surgeon and her team would be moving my legs in all kinds of unnatural (to me) contortions during the surgery, and I was extremely concerned about how my muscles and ligaments might scream in protest once I woke up from surgery. So I was scared.

But when I shared my fears with God’s people, hundreds of them graciously prayed for me, and the Lord swept away my fears like blowing away smoke. Suddenly the fear was gone and I was graced with a very matter-of-fact willingness to just get ‘er done. It was amazing. I was held in my Father’s gentle and loving cuddle, and I walked in peace the remaining days until the surgery. Metaphorically walked, that is. I hadn’t physically walked for well over a year because of pain and weakness.

Well, it has now been over a week since my surgery, and every day I stand amazed at the healing grace and pain-control grace of my gracious Lord. Not a metaphorical standing, either. For the first time in two years, I am able to stand upright and pain free. I try to maintain an awareness of the huge grace in which I stand, marveling at the privilege of being able to once more stand at the sink to wash my hands or brush my teeth. My recovery has gone exceptionally well. I’m able to walk with the aid of a walker and each day the distance I can walk grows longer. Soon I’ll be able to go home from the inpatient rehabilitation facility I’ve been in—once we figure out how to get me into our car.

But I was not prepared for what kept happening in the therapy gym: tears.

I was flummoxed by the unbidden tears that sprang to my eyes the first time a physical therapist asked me to exercise my polio leg in the same way I had just moved my surgery leg. I knew I couldn’t; I don’t have the strength, and never have. My left leg was originally paralyzed when I got polio as an infant, and it barely functions. But I also live with the mindset of trying to do what people ask me to do, and the clash of those two realities rose up in sadness and frustration that leaked out my eyes. It was rather embarrassing. I didn’t know what was going on, I just knew my heart was a storm of unhappy feelings.

When the therapist asked me to climb a two-inch step and I didn’t have enough pain meds in me for that, the stabbing pain in my surgery leg rose up through my body and exited through my eyes in tears again. It seemed that tears were just under the surface, ready to leak out at the slightest provocation, for two days.

I was so confused! What in the world was going on? Where were all these tears coming from?

It was my husband who provided the answer, and I thank the Lord for using Ray to bring clarity to my maelstrom of emotion. He texted me, “Honey, you have lived with decades of loss you have learned to manage. Now the loss is renewed and you now are reminded further of the loss in ways you haven’t dealt with for a lifetime. Polio sucks. I understand.”

That was it! The pain of loss is grief. I was grieving the impact of polio’s losses on my life yet again, this time with a freshly painful punch: polio is now interfering with my recovery from surgery. Other people can just use their other leg to support themselves and climb into a mini-van with its higher seats—no problem! I don’t have that choice. That’s a loss. When asked to do the same exercise with both legs, other people can do that, but I don’t have that choice. That’s another loss.

I manage to navigate the losses of polio for months and sometimes years at a time without having to actively think about it, allowing me the luxury of not having to face my grief every day. But that luxury has been taken away today and I want to be real and honest about where I am. I live in a fallen world where the evidence of sin’s destructive impact on our world is everywhere. My grief, the pain of my losses, is part of that fallen world. But what is also part of that fallen world is God’s promise that He would never leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). He tells me He is “the LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6).

I remind myself of my new life verse that just seems so incredibly appropriate for one whose body is compromised:
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

I cried today. I let the tears fall as the grief flowed. But then I chose not to lose heart, because this momentary, light affliction is producing for me an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.

It’s gonna be okay.

Sue Bohlin is a speaker/writer and webmistress for Probe Ministries, a Christian organization that helps people to think biblically. She loves teaching women and laughing, and if those two can be combined, all the better. She also loves speaking for MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) and Stonecroft Ministries (Christian Women's Clubs) on the topic How to Handle the Things You Hate But Can't Change, based on her lifelong experience as a polio survivor. She has a freelance calligraphy business in her home studio; hand lettering was her "Proverbs 31 job" while her children were young. Sue also serves on the board of Living Hope Ministries, a Christ-centered organization that helps people struggling with unwanted homosexuality and the family members of those with same-sex attractions. Sue never met a cruise ship she didn't like, especially now that God has provided a travel scooter for getting around any ship! She is happily married to Dr. Ray Bohlin, writer and speaker on faith and science with Probe Ministries, and they have two grown sons. You can follow Sue on Twitter @suebohlin.


  • Melissa Arnold

    BEAUTIFUL prose

    Sue, God continues to write Himself into and onto your life and heart. A most tender piece of poetry. One who so fearlessly loves and cares for others and is used by God Himself in so many others for the glory of Himself, will receive Heavenly conversations and requests from those you so willingly spilled out onto. Father, my God, hear the pleas for healing from your precious one please and include my request to give Sue a temporary rest from all that she is experiencing in her nerves, hips  and heart. You are our great Physician whether it be in heart, mind, body or strength! Let your servant feel your sweet hands on her body and shower her with that intoxication love. Your faithfulness and strength is what we crave. You are my only reason, please hear my prayers for this sweet friend and sister because of your gift and son.

  • Connie Sue

    Stunningly beautiful

    Hi Sue, 

    You're so very gifted ! I love to write and only wish I had one ounce of your talent to script in such beautiful style. My legs carry me well but too fast to slow down and write most days or spend enough time in prayer. At this moment, I barely have the time to write on my phone .. headset wrapped securely on my ears as I am pressured to stay healthy a d go for my slow walk in a fight against diabetes and arthritis. My family has Huntington's, so I cannot complain. It is heartbreaking and challenging disorder as well, yet unpreventable and barely detectable for years. Now it drives me to run this nonprofit for support for the families of handicapped. Let me know how I can help serve you and your family. 

    You seem to be gifted in so many other beautiful ways and your strength in sharing your journey reveals the Lord's work in you. It may not have been revealed otherwise ..may He bless your walk daily in ways we cannot understand and continue to give you strength beyond your own. Thanking the Lord for giving you for the strength, time and wisdom to share your beautiful story… May His light, glory and grace continue to shine through you. What you feel and see as weakness reminds others to be thankful but also strengthens and inspires ..reminds us that when we are weak, He is strong and is for a purpose we cannot understand until it is revealed through His grace and peace. Keep faith dear sister in Christ.  

    • Sue Bohlin

      You are so encouraging!

      Bless you, Connie Sue! And thank you for your work for families of those with handicaps. I'm sorry to hear that your story involves Huntington's–such a difficult aspect of in a fallen world. God bless you BIG, sister!

  • Mary Word

    Thank you.

    Sue, thank you for sharing honestly with so many that love and pray for you. Thankful for Ray's wisdom and for you continuing to look up to the One who loves and cares for you more than anyone. Continuing to pray as God holds you in His hands. Love you, Sue. 

  • Kelly

    Grief of experience loss again.

    My dearest Sue ,

    I am sorry for your pain and your loss because of the awful consequence of polio. 

    I am praying for you and I know that God has a greater purpose even though I can’t say I’ve ever had experience what you’re going through 

    We love you and God bless you. 


  • Lael Arrington

    Glad and sad with you

    Sue, I grieve with you. What a perceptive comment from Ray. Yes. YES. Losing our health is a great grief and we accommodate the pain and limitation so much for so long that we are surprised when it sloshes out. Rehab is such a “rub-your-nose-in-it” experience. I pray god’s grace, mercy, and comfort every time you face it. Love to you brave friend!

    • Sue Bohlin

      Bless you, Lael!

      Love your insight about rehab being a "rub-your-nose-in-it” experience.

      It was amazing to see how quickly my emotions resolved after I put the right label on them. God is so good!

  • Christine Weaber

    Love from afar

    Sue, I am blessed by your honest transparency. My life/body has also been touched by pain and loss so this was a reminder that we are not alone. For many years people have been blessed by your heart and words while never realizing the pain and losses you have endured. Ray was right, polio sucks! Life is filled with many frustrations and limitations but what a blessing when they turn us to Jesus! I love your new life verse.  I have chosen two new ones as well.  They are Psalm 138:8 "The LORD wil accomlish what concerns me, Your lovingkindness, O LORD is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Your hands." and 2 Corinthians 12:9 "And he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly therefore I will rather boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me." As God brings you to mind I will ask Him to bring you hope and strength for this new "walk" and for amazing grace to fully grieve with joy through tears. With the love of God from afar and acyber hug!

    • Sue Bohlin

      Cyber Hug Received!

      Thank you, dear Chris, for your exceptional encouragement! Bless you! Love your new life verses–and isn't it appropriate to choose new ones as our lives change?

      I still looooooove speaking at women's retreats (which is why I started my own Women's Retreat at Sea cruise: retreat + great cruising fun), and every time I speak at one, I smile inwardly at the memory of how you set the World Record for Returning Speakers of four years in a row! I am still honored, dear sister!!

      Much love to you,


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