My life changed once I realized that everyone is dealing with chronic pain in some capacity. The chronic pain others face may not be physical, but it could be mental, emotional, spiritual, and so on. We are all chronically dealing with pain. What a strangely welcoming thought!
I soon realized I could transcribe my pain into all sorts of other pain. Yes, I couldn’t intimately understand what others were experiencing, but I could feel it on some level because of my own chronic difficulties.
Writing about chronic pain means the subject matter will be relate-able for anyone who’s lived any amount of life, because life is hard. Oh, but it is not hopeless. I believe the personal stories, experiences, and pieces of advice I blog will be ones you can transcribe into your own life.
Today, we start with laying a good foundation in order to uproot any of the lies we are currently believing about pain. Believing lies will always destroy more life than pain ever will. I’ve lived this reality, and I don’t want that for you.
Lie #1: I AM PAIN.
Boy, I can’t describe how debilitating chronic pain can be. The feeling of perpetual sickness, weariness, and pain grates on the body constantly. It is in every movement of your body and in every decision you make. Because pain is so much a part of our everyday lives, it’s easy to believe we are the pain itself. We are home to pain and pain is our home. HOLD UP. HOLD UP! NO.
Pain is a place you stand not a person you can become.
I was listening to a podcast recently and they were discussing anxiety. She was explaining how she likes to say, “I don’t have anxiety. I’m moving through anxiety.” I thought that was a pretty powerful way to look at it. We can easily insert pain (or whatever trial you are facing!) into this equation, and it makes a world of difference. I don’t have chronic pain. I’m moving through chronic pain.
And it’s true!
Pain is not our permanent home. It’s not the end of our story. It’s not even the main theme to our lives. We are experiencing pain, we are moving through pain, but we don’t own pain and we can’t become our pain.
LIE #2: I AM HALF A PERSON.
I believed this one. Hands down. I spent hours in bed. I spent all my days in pain. I couldn’t express my pain to others, because I couldn’t process it myself. I didn’t understand what to do for myself or what was happening in myself. I couldn’t do what others could do and making good decisions for my body just sounded like excuses to me. IT WAS TOUGH!
I finally discovered the power of no & and the freedom in limitations (topics to come soon!), but in order to live out either of those well, I had to let go of the lie that I was half a person. I am a whole person. This is my God-given life. I don’t always get it, but I’m certainly not half because of it.
LIE #3: I AM ALONE.
Yeah. You are the only human to COMPLETELY understand every facet and hidden place of your specific pain, but you are not alone in those feelings.
Take a step back and look at it another way.
There are millions of people experiencing deep pain who (just like you!) cannot explain every facet, emotion, and fear. That means we are all in the same boat experiencing big things that don’t have big words to match.
God is with us in a way I don’t think we will ever understand (Isaiah 40 is a favorite place for me), but there’s also a boatload of us with insufficient words to truly describe the depths of pain we have known.
So, be honest with yourself and with others. Be patient with yourself as you process your pain and with others as you share it. Then, open your eyes and look around at the people in your boat. There’s a lot of us in the same one.
LIE #4: I AM STUCK.
I get it. The same grating pain can be excruciating. Let’s admit that and be okay with it! It’s difficult to pursue healing, search for answers, continuously make better decisions and still feel pain. You’re STUCK, right? AND IF ONE MORE PERSON SUGGESTS ONE MORE HEALING POWER THING, SO HELP ME…!!
Yes, I get it.
But we are not stuck people with stuck lives. God doesn’t give us life so we can be stuck in it. He gives us life so we can live life in Him and for Him. Stuck isn’t part of His story. Yes, pain is a guaranteed part of life on earth and God never sugar-coated that reality (though we kinda live like He did), but we aren’t stuck people in stuck places.
How can we know this?
God chooses to never leave us and has given us the Holy Spirit (Romans 8). A God who doesn’t leave us will also never lead us to stuck and hopeless places, but will instead lead us through them (Psalm 23, 31, 34). God gives us good gifts and works things for our good (James 1:17, Romans 8:28). God sanctifies us and changes us from the inside out (I Peter 1). God listens to our desperation and answers us with Himself (Job & Psalms).
God promises great joy in our real home–heaven (Romans 8:18). God does not take pleasure in our suffering, but He is glorified by our lives when we change to become more like Him through our suffering (I Peter 1:3-9).
We change, grow, rest, heal, and move forward in all the miraculous ways we’d have never imagined for ourselves! This is us not being stuck!
Yes, the relationship between God’s promises and our pain doesn’t always make sense to us. We can’t fully grasp how our suffering and His sovereignty works together, but if God’s ultimate desire for us is to be in heaven forever with Him, then you CAN BE SURE that His desire for us on earth is a story that breathes and moves for Him not a story that gets stuck somewhere in pointless suffering and pain.
God can transform anything. This is not a stuck life.
LIE #5: I AM UNABLE TO LIVE A FULL LIFE.
Life with God is a full life. Life with full health is an unattainable life (nobody gets that luxury earth-side). An absence of pain is not required for a fully present life.
I think the greatest points of suffering can often become the fullest places of life simply because our only Source of rescue is God. Our eyes are forced open to the reality of Who God is. The forceful open is painful, but when we do see, we speak like Job. “I had heard of you by the the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes see you (Job 42:5).”
It’s a beautiful thing to see God for who He says He is rather than who I have perceived Him to be. My perception of God is what makes me angry and confused, not God Himself. God Himself is kind and good and right. My perceptions are skewed and confused and scared.
I keep learning to trust God. To hope in God. To place all confidence in God. I have faith in who God says He is, not in how I or my emotions perceive Him to be. I trust that misunderstanding God does not change who God is and I believe that He is kind and good and right. I can live a full life, because I am seen by God and because I am learning to see God.
Lies will destroy far more than pain ever will.
You have a full life with God.
Stand firm in the truth.