Lessons in the Pain

I have not felt like writing much in the past few months. The winter was filled with stress – physical, emotional and mental. It is said that you can’t get blood from a stone; well, I say that you can’t get good thoughts from someone who feels brain-dead and heart numb.

I recently had a birthday, but for me it was not really a happy one. I have been struggling with chronic pain since my early 30’s and now that I am in my mid 50’s I am a bit battle fatigued. I have been plagued by the thoughts that if I am in this much pain now, what will I be like in the next 20-30 years? On top of the usual chronic pain I have also developed additional, and at times, severe pain in the groin area of one hip. The pain hits suddenly and is intense enough to cause me to exclaim out loud and almost drop me to my knees. This has happened to me while going for a walk, going up or down stairs, and even on a ladder.

I never know when that particular pain is going to hit me so I am nervous about going on any long nature hikes – which is a passion of mine. I think that aspect of the pain is causing me to feel very frustrated, angry and depressed. My husband and I are just beginning to plan to embark on enjoying retirement activities, most of which involved traveling with our “new” trailer, camping and nature hikes. This new pain aspect has filled me with fear about the possible limitations it may be imposing on my ability to fulfill our retirement dreams.

Pain has definitely slowed me down and at times, has stopped me in my tracks completely.

So, the topic of pain has been on my mind a lot lately and since pain plays such a large role in my life, I have been trying to learn if there has been, and/or is, any positive lessons that may have come about through the suffering of pain.

In some ways, pain has made me stubborn and a determined fighter. I refuse to give up on life simply because I am in pain. When I was younger and in pain, I still had two children to look after, a family to help support financially and a home to maintain. I no longer have young children nor have to work outside the home, but I still have a home to maintain and loved ones who need my help. Pain can certainly teach you perseverance.

Pain has taught me courage. It can be very difficult to choose to continue living when you are suffering a lot of pain. Choosing to move forward, to move past the pain, to continue loving, living and giving of yourself in the midst of suffering takes courage.

Pain can also teach patience. I must admit that I am not very good at patience. I have an active and adventurous soul and I like to keep busy both physically and mentally. I hate waiting for the episodes of pain and fatigue to pass so that I can accomplish something. But I am learning that I need to be patient with myself and if necessary, give time for the pain meds and/or rest to start working. Chronic pain can make me grumpy, so I have to learn to be patient with my loved ones if they are not understanding my pain or are doing things or not doing things which may frustrate me during that challenging time.

Pain has taught me to have empathy with, and compassion towards, others who may be suffering pain. My husband suffers from chronic daily headaches as well as migraines. Since we both suffer pain, it is easier for us to be very understanding, helpful and loving to one another during our bad times. Some of the most loving people I know are those who have suffered or continue to suffer some sort of pain.

There can be much misery in chronic or severe acute pain. I don’t like feeling miserable. Pain has taught me that I need to make good choices about the focus of my thoughts. I do my best to look for, and focus on, the blessings, large or small, that fill my day.

Believe it or not, pain can actually teach me gratitude. Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT thankful for the pain! However, I do try to develop an attitude of gratitude for all the blessings that God has given me. I am thankful for my loving, understanding and patient hubby. I am thankful for my Mom who like me, also suffers from chronic and often debilitating pain, but who still remains an example of sharing God’s love with others. I am grateful for my sisters-in-Christ who offer encouragement and prayers when I need them. I am thankful for my peaceful home; the sound of the wind in the trees; the birds at my feeder and their cheerful birdsong. I am thankful for my warm and fuzzy cat; her affectionate cuddles and purring do much to alleviate negative thoughts and feelings. I am VERY thankful for the times when I am able to indulge in some of my favourite physical activities, like going for nature walks, biking or canoeing. I treasure such times like rare and precious jewels. The pain that usually ensues is almost always worth the enjoyment I received from the activity. I am also grateful for the helps that God has provided in the way of good medical care, medicine, therapy and long, hot Epsom salt soaks in my new bathtub.

Pain has also taught me to rest – something that I don’t really like doing, unless I have a good book to read! Sometimes, you just have to learn when to let go of things and simply accept it when you need times of rest. Since I am usually unable to nap, I look to find creative ways to fill my “rest” periods such as reading, watching nature documentaries, or doing a small craft.

Finally, pain has taught me to hope. While I have all but given up hope of being healed in this lifetime, I know and believe that when Jesus comes again, my body will be completely renewed and I will never suffer pain or sickness again. Now that is a hope to hold on to!

Rev 21:4 And God will wipe away all tears from their eyes. And there will be no more death, nor mourning, nor crying out, nor will there be any more pain; for the first things passed away.

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Turtle Power

Yesterday was a bit of a rough day for me.

I am trying to juggle working at two jobs while working around my hubby’s schedule and also taking care of him as he has been ill a lot lately.

My jobs require hours of standing and walking which has aggravated the pain in the damaged nerve in my foot and the arthritis in my hip. The almost constant physical activity is a heavy drain on my limited energy resources. My house is a mess because I am too tired and in too much pain to clean it.

I am in pain, exhausted and stressed.

And then to top it off, yesterday I had an appointment with a lawyer (at his request) to discuss how to protect my interest in my lawful share of my ex-husband’s pension payments (25 years of supporting him and his career should be worth something). My ex has not been honourable in his dealings with me and this has forced me into seeking legal counsel.

After sitting in the lawyer’s office for an hour, re-hashing information that he has had for some time now, he decides that, in fact, he doesn’t think that he can help me after all – and then he tells me that I owe him $400!!!

I left the office feeling completely drained and defeated and fed up with dealing with people and the wickedness in this world.

I envied the turtle’s ability to pull in it’s head and feet and hide inside it’s protective shell. I felt like I just wanted to withdraw from the world and it’s many problems, curl up into a little ball and hibernate until Jesus comes again.

But the reality is that I can’t do that. Life, and all it’s challenges, won’t come to a standstill just because I am feeling over-whelmed.

Since I am not a turtle and I can’t withdraw into a physical protective shell, I sought out my Heavenly Father and covered myself in a spiritual shell of His grace, love and protection – I crawled into the arms of the One who loves me most. I gave Him my stress, my pain and my fatigue.

And I am feeling “lighter” today.

Thank you Abba.

Psa 59:16 But I will sing of Your power; yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; for You have been my strong tower and hiding-place in the day of my trouble. 

 

Lady In Waiting

“As your Lady-in-Waiting, I’m waiting!”

Lady Kluck   (Disney’s Robin Hood)

Image result for lady kluck

The other day, my Mom and I were commiserating (fancy word for complaining) with one another about our increased battles with various aches and pains.

We get very frustrated as we both have young, adventurous spirits which have been trapped in bodies that feel many decades older.

When you suffer from chronic pain and fatigue, the days can feel very long. After our combined pity party, my Mom commented that we are “waiting for our new selves”. She was referring to the completion of our redemption which will take place when Jesus Christ comes again.

The first part of our redemption takes place when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour. At that time, our sinful self is redeemed by the blood of the crucified Jesus. That is Part 1 of our redemption – our spirit has been redeemed.

Rom 3:24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus;

Gal 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone having been hanged on a tree”);

Part 2, or the completion of our eternal redemption, takes place when Jesus comes again.

Luk 21:27, 28 And then they shall see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to happen, then look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption draws near.

At that time, our “bodies” will also be redeemed.

Rom 8:23 And not only so, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruit of the Spirit [Part 1], even we ourselves groan within ourselves, awaiting adoption, the redemption of our body. [Part 2]

The word “body” in the above scripture comes from a Greek word meaning “sound [free from flaw, defect, or decay] whole”.

When Jesus comes again, my body will be made free from flaw, defect or decay. No more pain. No more fatigue. Hallelujah!!

Until that time, my Mom and I will continue to “groan within ourselves” (and probably outside ourselves), being “ladies-in-waiting” for “the redemption of our body“.

While I am waiting, I will think about this verse:

Rom 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory to be revealed in us. 

Blessings

Brain Drain

I am suffering from a bout of fatigue. I am not talking about a little bit of yawning that a quick cat nap would fix. I am talking about my brain feeling like it is made up of wet wool, my thoughts processing as slow as molasses in January, and my body going “I think I can, I think I can – nope – I can’t”.

There is so much that I want to do – so much that I need to do – it is frustrating!

So I work for an 1/2 hour to an hour and then plunk my butt down on the couch for an hour. I HATE being unproductive!

Then I tell myself the following things:  This is just a season. This too shall pass. And it really doesn’t matter in the long run.

I just rest in the Lord knowing that he loves me and understands what I am going through. And he reminds me about what is most important:

Luk 10:27  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself. 

Which I do, to the best of my ability, in between yawnszzzzzz…….

Blessings

The Walk

I have just returned from my morning walk. Usually I enjoy going for a walk. I live in a lovely area on a bluff over-looking Lake Huron. The roads are narrow and made of gravel which give a pleasing crunching sound under my feet. There are many large, lush, green trees and thick green undergrowth. A former cottage community under-going change, the houses are quaint and individual in size, shape and personality. In the right seasons, the air is filled with a wide variety of bird song. Big-eyed cotton-tailed rabbits warily munch on the abundant selection of greenery. Once in a while, a flock of wild turkeys, a small herd of deer or a lone coyote can be seen quickly slipping across the roadway from one woodland to the other.

My walks are usually the time I spend in communion with my Heavenly Father. I thank Him for all the beauty that surrounds me and for all the blessings He has given me and then I petition Him for the needs of my loved ones.

Usually I look forward to my walk. But not today.

Today, I had to force myself to go for a walk.

Today, my body aches, my fatigue is high and my soul is low.

Today I feel like the weather – heavy, damp and grey.

When I started out on my walk today, my steps were slower and less sure. It took more will power to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I struggled to get out the minimum amount of prayer requests and thanksgiving.

Then I decided to deliberately concentrate on shifting my focus from how I felt inside to what was going on around me. I noticed that even though we had had a bad month in July for heat and drought and the grass had turned brown, now, all the grass was once again lush and green. As I listened, I could hear chickadees chirping, crickets buzzing and the pleasant sound of crunching gravel under foot. I looked and saw the last of the summer flowers blooming in neighbours’ gardens. I felt the warm, moist wind blowing in from the South.

By the time I was approaching home, my steps, and my soul, had become quicker, lighter and easier. While I still feel tired and aching, my soul and my spirit are feeling less burdened.

I think our Christian “walk” (yes, pun intended) is much like my walk this morning. We often feel aching, tired, burdened, and low in spirit. That is the time when we must decide that we are going to keep on walking in our faith, regardless of how we are feeling. That is when we must choose to keep on putting one footstep of faith in front of the other. That is when we must take our focus off of ourselves and our present circumstances and look instead to the blessings that God has given us.

When we focus on God’s love for us and on what Jesus did for us and when we express gratitude and thankfulness for those blessings, our “walk” in this challenging life can become lighter and easier.

I pray that God will guide your walk today and make your path easier and lighter.

Blessings

Mat 11:29 Take My yoke on you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest to your souls.
Mat 11:30 For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.

CFS & CCM

CFS stands for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Mayo Clinic defines CFS as ” … a complicated disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that can’t be explained by any underlying medical condition. The fatigue may worsen with physical or mental activity, but doesn’t improve with rest.” CFS is one of the health issues that I live with and today it is making its presence keenly felt. Just trying to raise my arms above my head to brush my hair leaves me feeling like the Titan Atlas as he tried to carry the Earth upon his back. To say that I feel tired to the Nth degree seems like an understatement today.

I am sure that all of us have felt tired at some point and many of us may even have felt fatigued. Usually this type of tiredness and fatigue will eventually go away with adequate rest. I wish adequate rest was the solution to my fatigue. On top of physical and mental fatigue, many of us can suffer from emotional fatigue. Constant, unrelieved fatigue can lead to depression – and thus the vicious cycle continues.

Aside from physical, mental and emotional fatigue, there can also be spiritual fatigue – a different kind of CFS – Christian Fatigue Syndrome. This can happen when the cares, struggles and worries of this world not only drain you of physical energy but also saps you of spiritual energy. This type of CFS may be more hazardous to our health as it weakens our faith and a weakened faith leads to a loss of hope which causes yet another vicious cycle.

My answer to both types of CFS is CCM – Christ Carries Me. Remember that poem “Footprints in the Sand” by Mary Stevenson? The final line says “It was then that I carried you”. I can’t count the number of times that I have had to rely upon Christ carrying me. Knowing that Jesus carries me through all the fatigue and troubles that come my way gives me hope and that hope enables me to rest through those difficult times. In so many ways, God, through His son, Jesus Christ, proves my hope in Jesus and as my hope is proved, my faith is increased.

When we are tired, whether it be physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually, Jesus has invited us to come to him, to give him our burdens and take on his rest.

Mat 11:28 Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Mat 11:29 Take My yoke on you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest to your souls.
Mat 11:30 For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.

When I am having one of my “bad” days, as I am today, I just rest in the Lord knowing that, and trusting in, CCM – Christ Carrying Me and I have hope that I shall get through this day and this time of trial. Like David, I can say that my heart rejoices and my flesh rests in hope.

Act 2:25 For David speaks concerning Him, “I foresaw the Lord always before me, because He is at my right hand, that I should not be moved.
Act 2:26 Therefore my heart rejoiced and my tongue was glad; and also My flesh shall rest in hope,
Act 2:27 because You will not leave My soul in Hades, nor will You allow Your holy One to see corruption.
Act 2:28 You revealed to Me the ways of life. You will fill Me with joy with Your countenance.”

Blessings

http://www.footprints-inthe-sand.com/

In The Suffering

In a number of previous posts, I have shared my struggles with various health issues. I share them for a number of reasons. Firstly, I want people to understand that being a Christian does not mean that everything is going to be sweetness and light. Secondly, I want readers to know that I am a real person with real struggles and that I constantly need to turn to God for help, comfort and strength. And thirdly, I want others who may be suffering and/or struggling to know that there is a God of love, comfort, peace and joy who is ready, willing and able to help us through any and all the things that we may go through in this life.

Joh 16:24 Before now you have asked nothing in My name; ask (in the name of Jesus) and you shall receive, that your joy may be full.

1Jn 3:21,22 Beloved, if our heart does not accuse us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask, we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.

Eph 3:20 Now to Him (God) who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,…

The month of February has been a challenging one for me physically. It has been bitterly cold with high winds and blowing snow. My pain and fatigue levels have increased as have depression and anxiety. All of this on top of having to pack and clean for a move. To say that I am a bit grumpy at times may be an understatement. To be honest, I am fed up!!

Yet, even as I sit here feeling like crap (yes, I am a Christian and I said ‘crap’) I realize that I have many blessings for which I should be thankful.

I am thankful for medicinal ‘helps’ which God provides to alleviate my symptoms. I am thankful that He does not judge me for my lack of faith in my moments of weakness. Rather, I know that He is compassionate and understanding.

Psa 86:15 But You, O God, are God full of pity, and gracious, long-suffering, and rich in mercy and truth.

Likewise, I know that my Saviour, Jesus, also suffered pain, fatigue and sorrow.

Heb 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted just as we are, yet without sin.

In this miserable weather, I am thankful for warm clothes and shelter. I think of, and pray for, those who must endure this weather without benefit of warm clothes or shelter and I help in whatever way I can.

1Ti 6:8 But having food and clothing, we will be content.

In my pain, fatigue and grumpiness, I am very thankful for a loving, compassionate, understanding and patient husband. I thank God for my hubby every day because he loves me as God commands a husband to love his wife.

Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it,

In my rough mornings, I am thankful for a comfortable chair, a hot cup of tea, a purring cat upon my lap and a good book to read. I am even more blessed if the sun is shining upon my face.

In my suffering, I am thankful for dear sisters-in-Christ who pray for me and offer words and gestures of help and comfort.

1Th 5:11 Therefore comfort one another, and edify one another, even as you also do.

Jas 5:16 Confess faults to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous one avails much.

And in my suffering, I am so grateful for the sure knowledge of my salvation and for the hope that when Jesus comes again, I will be made whole and I will no longer endure suffering, pain or sorrow.

1Ti 2:3,4 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Rev 21:4 And God will wipe away all tears from their eyes. And there will be no more death, nor mourning, nor crying out, nor will there be any more pain; for the first things passed away.

PRAISE GOD!

I pray that you will reach out to God in your suffering and find help in your time of need.

Heb 4:16 Therefore let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Blessings