I’ve had a lot of opportunities in my life to become better at dealing with chronic pain. But I just haven’t. It gets me every single time. I get to a breaking point, a time of despair. I pray, I cry, I ask for healing. Sometimes I am healed and sometimes I must keep living with it.
I feel foolish for saying this, but it never occurred to me that I’d be dealing with chronic pain while pregnant. Not even a remote thought went that direction. What I actually thought was “for once I’ll be pain free, since my endometriosis will be in remission!” (HA! I’m laughing right now.) For three straight weeks I have been dealing with right lower abdominal pain. I don’t have a clue what it is. Maybe adhesions wrapping around my bowel or endometriosis? I don’t think my doctor has a clue, either, other than that the “baby is squishing everything down there.” All I know is, it’s there and it makes me miserable most days.
I find my character tested again and again through chronic pain — and for the last three weeks I find I am facing a new test. How will I respond to this pain? For the things that I am fearful of (first, that it won’t ever go away, and second, that it could be something serious) — what will I do with those fears? Will I look to the Lord and say “Your will be done?” or will I become depressed and feel sorry for myself?
I have great admiration for people who have looked chronic pain or lifelong disabilities in the face and have learned to find joy and contentment in the Lord despite it. Joni Erickson Tada is one of those people. And there is a blog I follow (www.mundanefaithfulness.com) about a mother of 4 children who recently went through a horrific time of breast cancer treatment and is once again facing more insidious cancer. You would think the idea of leaving 4 young children behind would literally cripple her, but it’s not, because she’s not letting that happen. When the fears and sorrow start to creep in, she’s immediately putting those same thoughts to death. And that’s how I want to be when I am facing chronic pain and the fear of living with it daily, because I have learned that despair and fear can be more insidious than the cancer or chronic pain itself. I want to put those life-sucking thoughts to death, and trust the Lord to give me grace for each day.
Today we went to church and as we sang songs with words of truth and praise for our Savior, tears of sweet relief slid down my face. Ah, to get my focus off my pain and onto my Lord — this was truly the best medicine for my heart and my soul. And not only that, but then our pastor had those in the congregation who were struggling with pain to stand up because he wanted to pray over us. My husband nudged me (his way of saying “stand up!”) and I was prayed for. It was such a wonderful time– my burden being lifted off my shoulders and placed on the One who lovingly carries it for me.
Have you lived with chronic pain? What helps you keep your perspective and focus on the Lord, and not on your situation?