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.