Tag Archives: chronic pain

Resolutions, Determination, and Godliness

1Timothy 4:7-10 “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.”

If you could choose one word to use as a label for your year in 2016, what would it be? I know mine. It would be determined.

 I started this year with a desire to break away from everything that reeked in the previous year. My mind was set as far as resolutions go, that as far as it depended on me, physical pain was not going to be my master. That might sound weird to people who haven’t lived with chronic pain, but this is where I was at. As far as I was even remotely able to this year, I went to the gym three times a week. If I was in pain, I didn’t really care, I was going anyway. If I was utterly exhausted (which I generally was since I have been anemic most of the year), I didn’t care, I was going anyway. Sometimes that meant slow cycling with my eyes closed, but at least I was moving. Sometimes that meant leaving the gym feeling worse off than when I started- but for me, it was a way of taking back control. It was a way of saying that pain could never bring me back to that horrifying black corner of helplessness. Get me as far away from that corner as possible. Basically, exercise was my way of kicking pain in the face.

I also went back to university this year and took a Creative Writing course, which I really enjoyed. Sure, completing each writing assignment meant my hands ached for a week, but once again, I did not really care. I was determined. Pressing on. Taking my life back. Kicking pain in the face.

And treatments. I tried so many treatments that it is almost funny, just trying to keep on functioning.

Often I have not tempered my determination with open hands. At times I have had this huge piece of my heart that just hasn’t wanted to trust God’s will in this area, to be honest. My eyes have been on temporary things so often that they don’t feel temporary anymore. When we set our eyes on temporary things, they simply take over our whole view.

It has been the most difficult part of my Christian life, to balance determination and contentment, or in other words, to balance desire and surrendering. There is nothing wrong with my wanting to be free of life hindering health issues, and there’s nothing wrong with setting goals and striving for them with determination.

But it’s wrong to want something so badly that you are no longer willing to accept your circumstances when God doesn’t give you what you want. It’s wrong to stop trusting Him in an area and to go chasing after it apart from Him. And it’s wrong when you put more effort into reaching temporary goals, goals that don’t even hold a promise for you, rather than exerting much of your effort into becoming more like Christ. Continue reading

You Are Never Doing Nothing

If for some reason you are ever rendered incapable of doing much of anything, you will likely know the insecurity and restlessness that goes with it.

Insecure

Insecurity, because as people we have so much of our perceived worth wrapped up in what we do. Our capabilities, responsibilities, and hobbies are what make us who we are. When we are no longer able to take on those things, we are left with little left to talk about, and find it painfully difficult to relate with those who are busy doing things.

You have a sense that you are existing more than living, and that is an incredibly difficult feeling. I wrote last year of this experience:

And some had easy laughter
And a carefree kind of sway,
They flittered and they fluttered,
Humming through the day.

“What have I to offer?”
The bruised reed said
From the ground,
“The glory’s gone over my head
But I am sinking down.
Up above the light is shining,
Sweet perfume fills the air,
But down here is decaying,
And an awful load of care.”

There is a potentially crippling sense that because you are not accomplishing things you are not valuable, nor are you even interesting.

Restless

I say restless, because we are used to doing things and being busy, and when life becomes slow and monotonous, all the hours rolling into one, it is easy to be anxious. But a sadder thing happens when you are stuck in that place for a long period of time. You accept your current reality and even if you are able to hope for improvement, when that hope is a long way off (even weeks or months), it is a dreadful wait. You begin to look forward to nothing more than going to sleep at night, and perhaps, if things are particularly bad, even night does not bring relief. Continue reading

Revisiting “Name it and Claim it”- For an Evening.

A year into my salvation I started to recognize the falsehood of the prosperity gospel, or more specifically the Word of Faith Movement. Since rejecting it, I have held it in contempt, regarding it as dangerously deceptive. For several years I’ve cast it away, not really feeling its lure.

Since that time (over 6 years ago), I have battled with many forms of chronic pain, one form brought on by pregnancy and still part of my daily experience even as I chase my now two year old daughter. I’ve tried many therapies, spent plenty of money, and had little success. The treatment I am trying now is the most expensive and the most painful.

After so much pain, limitation, and failed efforts, I found myself desperately wishing for a guarantee. Searching the scripture for hope I came across Psalm 27:13: “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” This verse convicted me and challenged my thinking. I had, after all, become somewhat of a pessimist. I went into treatment expecting it to fail, simply because there are few feelings in life worse than disappointment after high hopes. Then again, I’d tried giving up, and that felt even worse. I thought “I can only bear to hope again if there’s a guaranteed outcome.” For the first time, a thought came to me: What if I’m missing something? What if there is some promise of health and success that I’ve passed over? What if God could guarantee my healing based on the certainty of my own faith?

So I entertained the possibility- for an evening. Continue reading

“A Meaningful Life”

There is an innate desire in human beings for our lives to be meaningful, a God given desire that has all too often gone astray from Him.

One of my best memories from childhood is laying on the grass in our backyard and staring at a baseball. I would hold it above my face, rolling it in my fingertips, and feeling the stitches. Baseball was to me a marvelous sport, one that I loved everything about. I loved the dust that would fly and hover in the air when I slid to home base, I loved the crack of the bat followed by instantaneous sprinting, I loved the comfort and smell of my well broken-in Wilson leather glove, and the ball rolling off my fingertips and striking people out. I just loved it.
And I loved to be good at it. I loved for my talent to be recognized and to be “the” pitcher and feel as if winning a tournament was an honor to be solely bestowed on my shoulders.

The child like delight of playing faded over the years and in grade 11 I found myself on a rep team that had already primed the “it” pitcher. It wasn’t me. I didn’t look forward to the game anymore; I was stuck in the outfield. That was my last year of baseball, one in which I felt unrecognized, unappreciated, and unimportant. My team won tournaments, and had success, but I couldn’t enjoy it. I skipped the end of the year celebration, because well- it wasn’t about me. When it was all said and done my coach phoned and asked why I hadn’t been there. I can’t remember what I said, but I’m sure I had a lame excuse. He told me that the girls had voted for the Most Valuable Player on the team, and they had chosen me. I wasn’t there to accept that award. I was shocked that they had chosen me, proud, but also ashamed. Ashamed because I’d been too proud to imagine I had any value unless I was the star pitcher. I’d let a good year pass by miserably and I had missed the celebration.

As a kid you do the things you do because you love to do it. When you grow up, reality strikes and in a big way life becomes about making money. It’s a natural progression I suppose. In Christian communities, for women, it’s not so much about the money, but about the home making and children raising. Whatever you find yourself doing you wonder, is it enough? Enough for me? Enough for God? Enough in the eyes of others? Important enough? Impressive enough? Worthy? Valuable? Memorable? Continue reading

Nevertheless: Your Failure and God’s Faithfulness

Psalm 73:21-16 “When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

During our engagement my husband and I endured a messy and painful departure from our church. Conflict seemed to be on every side, but we happily found a new church to call home, and were largely consumed by the thrill of anticipating our coming marriage. It was a difficult season, but the purposes of God seemed clear, and His faithfulness to us was apparent.

One year into our marriage I found myself in a very different place. My career put me in a physically threatening environment, and I was overrun with anxiety. Others seemed to handle it with relative ease, while I was feeling affected by it even on my days off. Then there was the pain- constant and especially bad whenever I tried to sit still or lie in bed. It began from out of nowhere on our honeymoon, and continued to worsen relentlessly without explanation. I had developed intense insomnia, to the degree that several nights of the week I did not sleep at all. At one point I had gone 72 hours without a minute’s rest, and bear in mind, that meant not a one minute break from the pain. All this despite the prescription sleeping pills and painkillers, that I was frustratingly becoming addicted to. Continue reading