We’ve spent the last few posts in our Chronic-Thriving series discussing practical ways to live well with pain, but let’s talk about the emotional strain of it all.
In the foggy days of my journey, it felt as though chronic pain had frozen me in place. Everything I had been able to do I could no longer do. Everything I hoped to do had to be put on hold. And while I wasn’t paralyzed in body, I felt paralyzed in spirit. What was going on? How could I endure this? How much longer would I be forced to stay here?
I had been made invisible.
Chronic pain launched me into a life of being hidden, unseen. Not that people didn’t care about me, because they did and they do! But it seemed that the very core of me was suppressed. Pain had eaten up my physical stamina and energy, erased my desire to dream, and consumed my every waking hour.
I was pain masquerading as a girl. Or so it felt. I could no longer see who I used to be, and I had no excitement for who I may become.
It would take many years of chronic pain coupled with hardship, emotional & spiritual setbacks, tiring perseverance, and grief to bring the realization that I was meant to be hidden all along and that the richest life I would ever know would be found in my relationship with God—a relationship so intimate that the entirety of it remains unseen by others.
Pain first hid me from my own ideals and aspirations to teach me that being hidden in God is my greatest purpose. Pain first buried me deep to teach me that being hidden in God is where life begins and bursts out. Pain first made me blind to make me aware that my best joy in life is being hidden in God. Pain continues to sweep in and slow down my mad dash to idolize myself the image-bearer rather than God the image-Maker. Pain of all sorts has a way of hiding me first and then reminding me of the freedom I have in being hidden in God! Read more
One of the most profound things my massage therapist ever said to me went something like this: “Do you want to heal?” That’s a legitimate question. Did I want to heal? Did I believe healing to be possible?
And here’s the thing–
Chronic pain can easily feel like it’s an integral part of who you are. Your person-hood feels entwined by pain–governed by it even. It’s who you are. Or so you believe.
In the last four years, I’ve begun to see healing in the way God has radically changed my heart and mind toward pain, people, and life. But I’ve also known physical healing in the sense that I’ve chosen not to be ruled by my pain or go stagnant about my health.
Pain of any kind is a place I stand, but not a person I can ever become.
Furthermore, chronic pain will never be my destination in life. Ever! Instead, I see pain as a place of movement. Read more
Those first few years of intense chronic pain were confusing. Suddenly, I was hitting against limitations I hadn’t had before. Oh, I knew pain. I’ve had headaches since I was 3 years old, but chronic pain is different than occasional bursts of pain.
Chronic pain is day in, day out, all over again. While your body undergoes physical exhaustion, your mental and emotional state is worn down too. I mean, really worn down.
Chronic pain is also invisible unless you’re experiencing a flare-up and your face reflects the pain’s intensity. Invisible pain is a beast in itself, because if you’re going to talk about your pain out loud, you have to verbally convince people it’s real. And before you can convince people, you have to convince yourself (because invisible pain is not only terrifying, it can also feel unreal at times!).
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.