Learning the unforced rhythms of grace

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Pain Perspective Series

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The other day, my friend asked, “How do you live with chronic pain?” I smiled, thinking it was a rhetorical question. But it wasn’t. She said, “No really, HOW do you live with pain and not get bitter?”

I felt a little shy about talking about myself, but I also knew that I actually had an answer to her question.

My answer was something like this:

“God’s grace is healing my feelings of uselessness and what feels like an unproductive life. He’s given me a new perspective on what really matters and creativity to find life within the pain instead of waiting for pain to go away.

I have specific routines that I’ve created to keep me focused on what is important and that allow for the various needs of a high and low pain day.  I keep a strict guard on my mind and heart so that discouragement is addressed and cared for. I write in a journal, talk with friends, confide in a mentor and engage in fun activities as soon as pain lowers a little.

When pain is bad and I lay down on my left side, I have ‘left side prayers’ and a painting to look at on that side of the room to help me focus on what really matters. I have a stack of heavy and light-weighted books to read while laying down depending on my strength. I have prayers and verses printed off and stuck in various places throughout the house so I am constantly reminded to look to God for focus.

I have built specific routines of reflection and focus throughout the different seasons of the year so as to guard against feeling overwhelmed and to adequately prepare for upcoming challenges that will require more energy or asking others for help. When there are ‘windows of opportunity’ (as I call the hours without pain), I go for walks, get a coffee with my husband, do yard work, have a nap, or whatever seems spontaneously fun in the moment and I enjoy it thoroughly and thank God. Those are the moments that I can look forward to when the pain is the highest.

And I see that God is able to do so much in my weakness, that as I let go of what I think is important to get done in this life, I am able to be a part of what God is already doing. His way is way better and it allows me to have joy in the midst of pain because I know it’s not all up to me. The pressure is off, so I can relax and be curious about what God is up to. I’ve learned to pray a lot more and I’m thrilled with what God has done.”

The next day, I reflected on how naturally the answer came and yet how sheepish I felt in giving it. I’ve had Endometriosis and its accompanying damage to my body for over 20 years now. God has been good to me and I have not grown bitter. I’m so thankful for that.

Over the next nine weeks, I’m going to do a series on “Pain Perspective” and hopefully offer some encouragement and creative ideas for coping with illness, pain and stressful circumstances.

  • June 4: Creating a Pain Plan
  • June 9: Communication Tips 
  • June 16: Windows of Opportunity
  • June 23: Refreshing Routines 
  • June 30: Over-Responsibility Issues
  • July 7:   Simplifying Daily Tasks 
  • July 14: Insight from Others
  • July 21: Watch and Listen
  • July 28: Acceptance & Decision Making 

If you know of someone who may benefit from this, feel free to share this with them, invite them to subscribe and they’ll get a weekly email.

Have a great day!

Heather