Finding Joy in Pain

Angela Hama (Richards, ’13) began attending TWU in 2009 and was involved in soccer, a number of leadership roles on campus, and various ministries, primarily in the downtown eastside. She completed her degree in Sociology and Psychology with a certificate in Human Services.

A couple of years after graduating, Angela joined the Human Resources team at TWU, where she worked for a number of years.

“My role in HR was unique in that I had the opportunity to meet many of the new staff and faculty coming into TWU,” says Angela. “I was often blown away by their caliber and passion. There are some really rock star people serving at TWU that could be working at a lot of other places, and yet have chosen to invest themselves there. It was a joy to be part of that.”

Chronic Pain

In 2014, prior to taking on a role at TWU, Angela had a sudden onset of pain in the arches of both of her feet.

“Within several weeks this went from a mild agitation that held me back from my longer runs, to a throbbing, burning pain that was nearly debilitating,” says Angela. “Chronic pain became my new norm. I learned to do life from a wheelchair and my knee scooter (which is pretty sweet ride if you’ve never been on one).”

Life changed dramatically for Angela and her husband Matt Hama (’15). Everything from hobbies, to work capacity, to simple things like cooking and shopping looked different.

Over the next 5 years, Angela saw numerous specialists including physiotherapists, neurologists, naturopaths, reflexologists, chiropractors, and podiatrists, but a clear diagnosis remained elusive, as did a path to recovery.

“The physical reality was hard, the possibility of never finding a solution terrifying, and the emotional and spiritual wrestling exhausting,” says Angela.

One of the really difficult sides of chronic pain for her was the feeling of isolation. A non-visible condition and lack of diagnosis added to that reality.

And yet. Angela shared that in the midst of pain, uncertainty, and often fear, she experienced a sense of profound joy that transformed how she thought and lived. It was something that didn’t make sense with where life had taken her.

“I learned that the ability to run physically has little to no impact on the ability to run spiritually,” says Angela. “God met me in powerful ways and I experienced distinct moments of great joy in the midst of great pain. I tried to get there for years on my own, and then suddenly He did it for me and I didn’t have to fight in the same way anymore.”

Angela shared that despite some of these breakthrough moments, it wasn’t an easy road. There were weeks and sometimes months when just getting through the day was a struggle. But she says there was still a certain beauty about it all.

The Journey to Recovery

When Angela was 27, she started working with a new physiotherapist who specialized in feet and chronic pain. After spending hours assessing her, she was presented with a very different diagnosis and was helped to develop a new intensive physio regime. Fast forward two years: Angela sold her knee scooter, goes for walks freely, and is even getting back into trail running.

“I’m walking into a new chapter deeply thankful for the gift of just that: walking,” says Angela. “But more than that, I’m moving forward with a deep knowledge and belief that God shows up in pain, fear and uncertainty. That He is the Treasure of greatest worth, regardless of circumstance (see Matthew 13:45-46).”

What’s Angela up to now?

Today, Angela works with Smart, Savvy + Associates in Fort Langley. She’s a Certified Leadership Coach and manages the Leadership Development Coaching programs at Smart Savvy. Angela’s passion is people and seeing them thrive. She has experienced coaching to be a powerful way to come alongside others and help them do just that.

In her free time, you can find Angela outside doing just about anything she can get her hands on from tennis to fishing to hiking. And if you see a big smile on her face, there’s a good chance it’s due to the simple joy of being on her feet.