I come to this topic carefully as many people have suffered chronic pain, and pain is so diverse. I just wanted to write the practical things that I have learned throughout my four years of living with chronic pain. I have written more personally about my journey through chronic pain many times. Those posts are primarily from my heart which will be linked below.
But today, I just wanted to give some practical advice on how I have dealt with chronic pain. This is not an extensive list, and I understand that chronic pain is so very different for everyone. I just hope to be an encouragement to those who suffer in this way by sharing with you what I have learned. Maybe you can apply some of these practical tips to you life.
Without further ado, here we go!
I realized that focusing on the pain will not solve the pain.
We need to stop making pain the main event. It is in our life, but it is not our life. Believe me, I understand the whole pain thing. It’s real and it isn’t fun.
Making your friends understand why you can’t participate is hard. Skipping work one too many days is not as relaxing as it sounds. Throwing up, having migraines, experiencing intense stomachaches, and extreme fatigue is exhausting emotionally. BUT we can’t make it the main focus of life.
Do what you know is best for your body. Say no when you need to. Don’t be ashamed to tell the truth about your pain, but don’t make every conversation about your pain and don’t live as though your pain is the main event. It’s not.
I stopped believing that chronic pain is all BAD.
Too many articles and too many people focus on how awful chronic pain is in their lives. They wallow in the limitations and the hardship that the pain brings. They lose themselves in finding ALL the things that can make it go away. Chronic pain isn’t bad.
A proper view of pain makes all the difference. Chronic pain has helped me realize my weakness without Christ. Chronic pain has grown my compassion for others in pain. Chronic pain has shown me my incompleteness in self & my wholeness in Christ.
Chronic pain has sunk me so far under that I realized the value of life and the reality of death. Chronic pain is in my life and I have learned countless things from it. I am thankful, truly thankful to God for my chronic pain.
Quit believing that chronic pain is only a bad and terrible thing. Recognize God’s strength & grace while experiencing this pain.
I started asking other people how they were doing.
Strange, right? I am the one in pain! Why ask others how they are doing? Isn’t it you and me that are hurting so much that we can barely move? OK, let’s just rewind. I am not the center of attention no matter how much pain I am experiencing. Even you are not the center of attention no matter how much you are hurting. It’s not about us.
It’s NEVER about us.
We may be in pain, but that doesn’t mean we should stop caring for others.
Ask other people how they are doing, especially when you are in pain. It teaches you to actively take the focus off of yourself and your pain. You may even find that others are hurting. You may even see that there are many people with chronic type pain or even pain similar to yours. Your compassion will grow for others. You will think less about yourself and how you are doing.
I stopped believing the lie that I must be half a person.
I am sure many people with chronic pain have felt lower than life, less than human, so sick you cold barely think or move. I have. Then I began to believe the lie that I must be half a person. I’m not good enough. I can’t exercise. I can’t do what others can do. I have to work less. I have to sleep more. I have to take legitimate sick days.
Guess what? All of these things just mean that I am a human with limitations. Limitations aren’t bad. Limitations can actually be really good! They have helped me realize my humanity, my weakness, and my inability to live on my own. They bring me to God’s strength. Limitations carry me to His throne when I am too proud to do so myself. Everyone, even those without chronic pain, have limitations. They just look different than mine!
Recognize your limitations. Find why they are helpful in your life and be thankful for them.
I found a couple of friends who deal with chronic pain.
Chronic pain is such a common problem that this shouldn’t be too hard for anyone. I have several friends that I keep up with regularly that suffer chronic pain. My friendship with these people doesn’t give me license to complain with them.
These friendships build a community of encouragement and prayers. We ask each other how we are doing, we understand the tears, we laugh about the careless comments of others, and we share success days that we barely had any pain. And we remember again all of God’s goodness. It is refreshing and beyond helpful to have these friends.
Find friends that suffer in the same way you do. Encourage them and be encouraged by them.
I realized that everyone has a form of pain.
It was truly life-changing when I realized that everyone is suffering in some way. The weight of my physical pain was another person’s emotional pain. Everyone is chronically dealing with something difficult in their life.
You are not the one and only soul battling this thing called pain! Don’t live and act like you are the only one. Countless people are suffering. Find them. Pray for them. Love them. Encourage them.
I am curious now.
What have you learned while suffering chronic pain? I want to hear from YOU what has helped you most, the lessons you have learned and how God has shown Himself mighty in your life!
Leave your answers in the comments. There are so many of us out there and this post is intended to help us stand together and build a friendship bonded by this thing called chronic pain. (Find more practical tips here).
15 thoughts on “Living with Chronic Pain”
Thanks for sharing. You know I don’t suffer from chronic pain, but it’s helpful to be reminded that YOU do. You are so often one of the most cheerful people around and handle your chronic pain so well that it’s easy to overlook the fact that you have it! I’m sure I’m one of those people who has made a careless comment (or at least an ignorant one). Thanks for not laughing in my face. 🙂 Thank you for being steady and strong and for living your life to help others. It hasn’t gone unnoticed.
I don’t think you have made any careless comment to me. 🙂 Thank you for your kind words. To God be the glory! I don’ say that tritely either. Thank you for reading & for taking the time to comment. Your words are so encouraging to me.
pain is something many people have …our family decides we live with it ….;you would never know because we never complain about it …or talk about it…..the main thing we do about pain is not to focus on it in to focus on others ….God will continue to use all of these things in his glory ….to God be the glory amen …
Thank you for purposing to focus on others! All glory to God! Amen!
Thanks for the article. I don’t personally suffer from chronic pain, but I know two people who do. Both have been very instrumental in my life, one as a teacher and the other as my student. This gave me a renewed perspective on things as well as reiterating the amazing fact that something that might seem “bad” can work out for the glory of God!
Isn’t God good?! I am so thankful for the chronic pain. Thank you so much for reading this article and taking the time to comment. It is so encouraging to me!!!
[…] pain gives you so many limitations. In fact, I wrote more specifically about my chronic pain here. Anyway, I really battled this thought of being less, because I had to miss more work days than […]
This is such a great perspective. Thank you for sharing your pain so that others may find comfort and relief.
God is so good! He has taught me many things even as He gives me comfort & joy through the hard lessons. What a wonderful God we serve! Truly.
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Sierra, I have known about your blog for a while now, but have never taken the time to read it until today. I have been encouraged by your writing–thanks for sharing. Not a lot of people know this about me, but I have a autoimmune disease. I had it in high school, but I thought all that I was feeling was just “growing pains”. When I got to college I noticed that most girls have more energy than me and could pull all-nighters with little to no consequences. I on the other hand felt like death if I got less than 8 hours of sleep. I’m now in my third year at school and the pain as grown increasing greater. I have had to learn the hard way that it is okay to say no. I am one to hide my pain because I don’t want people to see my weakness, but this year in particular has been a year of weakness. My biggest challenge right now is loving others even when I don’t feel well. I have a roommate who also lives in chronic pain, but her pain is emotional. She has had a terrible past. This roommate is very difficult to live with and many times I have failed to love her. Often times I use my physical pain or weakness as an excuse in my mind to not show love to people or be short with them (especially my roommate) because I think my needs are greater. I’d rather just ignore the problem and go to bed. God has called me to deal with physical suffering as well as to love people and invest in their lives for the sake of the Gospel. When I feel sick and don’t want to love but only want to focus on me, I have to look to Jesus for joy and remember that he does sympathize in my weakness and in my weakness His strength is found. We serve a God who loves us so we can love others and that truth alone should sustain us through each day.
Sorry this is such a long reply 🙂
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Never apologize for a long reply, Rachel! I am so thankful you took the time to read some blog posts & I am so grateful that God encourages us through the words & actions of others. I understand the strange transition of “mostly healthy” to “very unhealthy”. It’s hard and very emotional & quite confusing to explain to friends! But as you said, in my weakness…God’s strength is found! And MY how He gives us all that we need in the day! I’d love to talk about this some more you with you! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org or you can just fb message me! Whatever works best. 🙂 So good to hear from you. God is our Healer, Rachel!
[…] that. Everyone was suffering just like me in some way. It drastically changed the way I viewed my chronic pain and further helped me grow in compassion toward others with pain, whether physical or emotional. […]
[…] Share This! ****** More of My Chronic Pain Journey Part 2 of my Vulnerable Journey I Worship My Pain Living with Chronic Pain […]
I’m rather new to your blog and am just catching up on your journey. I saw the chronic pain highlighted in your “start here” section and I immediately clicked. I suffer from adrenal fatigue which is basically living in a state of chronic stress. What I am now vs what I was three years ago is definitely different. I used to think I was invincible because I was always going, going, going about school, ministry, and everything else, and never “stopped.” I depended on myself just about 100% women the obligatory prayer here and there. I knew I was doing the motions of Christians without the heart, so I asked the Lord to do whatever it took to bring me back to him and to keep me humble. Huh. Well two years into college, God answered that request and I collapsed on choir tour and had to be rushed to the ER. Hello new life of unknowns. Everything you’ve written I can relate to from personal experiences. I really struggled with limitations (still do) but I now look at them as God’s gift of loving me better than I could love myself. Your list above? Totally relate!
I guess with all that said, my lessons would be as follows:
1. God loves us better than ourselves, and sometimes He allows “bad” things to happen to us because he loves us too much to let us keep going the way we were going, or because He has a much higher purpose He desires to prepare us for.
2. I wouldn’t change any of the things that have happened to me because I now have a built in dependency on God to get me through life moment by moment, a better understanding of His character and strength, as well as hundreds of episodes of His faithfulness to me that I can cling to when I begin to doubt.
3. Everything in our lives is orchestrated in a way that God clearly gets all the glory, – and what a joy that He uses our weakness!
Sorry for the book, but I feel your kindred spirit of a fellow writer understands. The heart overflows with the blessing of the Lord!
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Ellec20, never apologize for writing a long comment! I love hearing from people…especially when they have suffered in the same way! Thank you for sharing your story. It has been 3+ years since I wrote this post, and I’m sure I’d add to it by now! And yes, WHAT A JOY that God uses our weakness and somehow He makes beautiful & new what we experience as hard & painful…and totally “hopeless”. This year has been especially hard for various reasons, but I’ve now been learning that God isn’t mean-spirited or heavy-handed with me. There is suffering in my life, but God wants to HEAL my heart & bring me nearer to Him…He’s not wanting to hurt me (sounds like a totally “DUH” statement, right?!) I think I’ve often had this sub-conscious thought that God’s just “whipping me into shape” with all the hard things in life, but actually He’s been HEALING me and showing me what real hope & rest looks like. He’s been my great Comfort! Pain & suffering isn’t easy, but God gives deep joy within it….He gives of Himself….and what peace it is to know Him. Don’t stop sharing your story with me and with others! I’m so glad you took time to comment. Overjoyed to meet someone much like me. You wrote the book and…well….I wrote the sequel! HA! 😉
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