How Do You Cope with Chronic Pain?

OUCH is not the best word to define my PAIN last weekend.

With a bucket of sunflower seeds in my hand, I was walking up the slope of my backyard towards the bird feeder when a wasp flew between my left foot and the flip flop I was wearing.

My foot came down on the wasp, and his stinger went into the arch of my foot.

I’ve never been stung by a wasp. So despite my previous blog about fear, I have never feared wasps. Now I have a healthy respect for the venom in their sting.

I tried many remedies: baking soda, apple cider vinegar, soaking my foot in lavender water, but my foot would not be comforted. Sharp, prickling pain radiated throughout my whole foot. 

But what I learned from the circumstance is not …”avoid wasps.”

My lesson was the impact physical pain has on my mental welfare. (And I have a HIGH pain tolerance)

Weary of the pain, I took a Tylenol and went to bed, hoping a nap would help me escape. When I woke up, my foot still pulsated and I could not put weight on my foot.

I gave up the idea of yard work, but no leisure activity could distract me from the pain.

All I could think about was… the pain.

Like a prima donna,  pain took center stage, nagged me throughout the weekend, refused to be ignored.

So tell me, how do people live with chronic pain?

How does someone get up each morning knowing nothing has changed, and perhaps never will?

I knew my foot would improve. I just had to rest, and be patient especially when the next day came and my foot still throbbed.

But a wasp sting is nothing compared to the chronic pain resulting from surgery, back problems, or side effects of chemotherapy.

PAIN also describes grief which can incapacitate someone.

Revelations 21:4 offers hope. “He (GOD) shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain…”

But until that future day comes, this blogger wants to know….

  • How do you endure chronic pain?
  • How do you find emotional strength to carry on?
  • How do you rest in God’s promises in the midst of battle fatigue?

Do you know?

How Do I Give Up Control?

My teenage son is going on a weekend trip. He waits till the last minute to pack his duffel bag. I follow him out the front door with my mental checklist.

“Did you pack extra socks? You want to keep your feet warm.”

“One pair should be enough.”

“Did you pack sunscreen?”

“Someone else should have some.”

“Do you have a flashlight?”

No answer.

I’d say my voice is going in his one ear and out the other, but there’s an ear bud inserted into his right ear.

Dad’s voice, “Leave him alone. He’ll be fine.”

“What if he forgets something he needs?”

“Then he’ll remember it next time.”

They drive away, leaving an exasperated mother. “I wonder if he packed a tooth brush.”

My daughter says I’d make a great administrative assistant. Even when I leave home, I type out detailed instructions.

“Water the plants on these days. Don’t forget to take out garbage. In case of emergency, call….blah, blah, blah.”

Okay, so I micro manage.  I’m being real here. But how do I give up control?

Do I allow my child to learn from his mistakes and suffer the consequences when I can prevent many what ifs from happening?

Or can I?

Through no fault of her own, my friend was in a serious car accident. Her daily routine and future plans came to an abrupt halt. While she recuperates, I cringe. What if that happened to me?

Ruled by the tyranny of the urgent, I don’t have time to pause in mid-sentence and wait for life to resume.

Or do I?

Sixteen years ago, I gave birth to my son a week before Christmas. He was three weeks ahead of schedule. Unable to breathe on his own, he was hooked to a ventilator in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

I had no control.

Instead of running nonstop to prepare for the holidays, I spent two weeks being still in a dim hospital room with my newborn infant. Baking cookies, mailing Christmas cards, and a dozen other holiday traditions didn’t happen that year. However,

When I loosened my grip on everything I thought was important

Surrendered my expectations

Kept my mind fixed on the Sovereign God

Trusted Him regardless of the outcome

“He kept me in perfect peace.” Isaiah 26:3

He still does ….

When I give up my need for control, and sit still in His presence.

Hurry up and wait!

We’ve been traveling in the car twelve hours. My body longs to eat and rest, splash water on my face.

Look at the map. Calculate the distance. How much longer till we’re there? “There” is a hotel room reserved with my name.

But we’re in the middle of rush hour traffic. Breathe deep, try to relax as five lanes of speeding vehicles zip by me, ride my bumper, cut me off. All trying to get ahead.We almost miss our exit. Make a wrong turn. Hit a detour. Wait for the light to change.

Impatience and frustration become my travel companions.

Not unlike my life.

Always in a hurry, but forced to wait. Earn a degree, find a spouse, have a baby, get a job, house, promotion, vacation, retirement, grand babies, fill in the blank________. List changes, never ends.

I’ll be happy when…

I’ll smell the roses when…

I’ll follow God when…I get where I’m going.

Sometimes I feel like Moses and the Israelite nation wandering the desert for years, wondering why God won’t lead me to the Promise Land sooner. Knowing God is present, but tired of waiting. So I grumble and rebel. (Numbers 14)

Like the Israelite nation who let fear and unbelief keep me from moving forward. Then take matters into my own hands, and forge ahead without God’s leading, inviting disaster because I refuse to trust God and obey His directions.

If only I could learn to walk out this life, one day at a time? Trust God in the desert and detours?

Knowing there’s value even in this?

Then I’ll have arrived…………

Mother May I?

“What do you want for Mother’s Day?”

In my household that means, “Do you want to eat out?” “Shall we buy you something?”

Too many people dine out that day. I’d rather not wait for a table. And I feel bad for moms who work as a waitress on Mother’s Day.

And nothing compares to the gifts my children made for me during their childhood years. My office is a museum of their arts and crafts. A hand-painted picture frame, a pencil holder made from a clay pot, a laminated card decorated with torn, colored construction paper.

Now, an act of service is my love language. Last year, my husband and teenage son spread shredded cedar in my flower beds. I was a happy mom! If my son chose to clean his closet, that could count as three Mother’s Day gifts. Dream on.

This Mother’s Day, I’ve decided to rest. I got the idea from my feline. She slept in the sun last week, oblivious to the activity around her.  Wouldn’t it be lovely to rest without a care? To do nothing, without guilt?

Don’t know that I can.

Unless I’m productive it’s not a good day. Even my reading a book, or a friendly phone call, seems like an accomplishment. God knows this about me. He’s given numerous scripture on my need for rest on multiple levels.

Sabbath Rest, rest from labor, resting in the Lord, rest for our souls, rest for the weary, entering God’s rest….

“This is what the Lord says … ‘ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” (Jeremiah 6:16)

Hello, Karen? Which part of rest don’t you understand?

Remember the child’s game, Mother May I? I’m told to do something by the leader, but first I must ask permission or I’m out of the game. The Lord’s Word tells me to rest. But unlike the game, I don’t have to say, “Father May I?” before proceeding.

God has given me permission. He invites me to enter His rest. He commands me to rest.  

It’s time I believe God’s Word and permit myself to rest.

Not only this Mother’s Day, but each Sunday as well.

Not My Nature to Rest

One minute, midnight to be exact, I’m at my desk in a writing frenzy. All’s well with the world and my soul. Must get ready for bed; have a big day planned for the morrow.

The next minute, my body raises a red flag. Discomfort escalates into physical pain.

Crawl into bed; hoping sleep will shield me, but the minute hand drags oblivious to my impatience and pleading prayers. At three a.m. I turn on the lamp, conceding my best laid plans are canceled, and listen to the night sounds. When the hooting owl gives way to the lark, I slumber at last, but not for long.

After noon, after the doctor and prescription, I collapse into bed. I don’t want to lie beneath hot sheets while the sky is a brilliant blue, and daytime noises summon me to action. But I have no choice. Sickness sabotages me. I must cease striving, and rest, and wait for the green light of good health.

Why is it difficult to rest, to hand over the keys of responsibility especially whenever a decision must be made and a course of action taken? Scripture is medicine to my soul and I’m convicted to “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” (Psalm 37:7)

Define rest. And how long must I wait?

The thought makes me strain like a toddler confined to his car seat. Lord, tell me to build an ark, build a temple, or feed the poor; anything, but inaction.

His Word stares me in the face.

Whenever the flesh is beat….

Whenever the mind is muddled….

Whenever the soul is starved or enslaved…..

Jesus says, Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Lord, it’s not my nature to rest. But He says come versus do.

Not do?? I’m wired to obey God’s law, follow man’s rules, meet people’s expectations.

Jesus says,Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29)

To take means I agree to submit.

Jesus invites me to come so He can give rest. He offers His yoke so that I can learn from Him and find rest for my soul. He invites, He gives. By coming to Christ in submission, I receive and discover “His yoke is easy and His load is light.”

And that’s how I rest and wait patiently even in this……