Journey Through Pain

Journal 2005. At the beginning of the century, an infected tooth sent inflammation raging through my body. I didn’t know the source at the time, and it took three doctors to help me get it under control. Vioxx makes my ears ring constantly, and I’m about to try Celebrex instead. I wonder how I’ll respond to it. Right now, I’m relatively pain-free—as long as I don’t overdo. Hands, feet, eyes, and back are the weakest.

I want to record my journey with pain, and I start while I’m feeling fairly well. I know my perspective will progressively change over time—just as emotional healing changes us inwardly. Right now, I want to avoid pain. It gets in the way of my to-do list, but I don’t want to be dominated by it.

I don’t want to be a whiner or a complainer. I don’t want to be a baby, but I also am no hero when it comes to pain endurance. I’m quick to run to relief wherever I can find it. I don’t want the attention or focus to be on me, but when I’m hurting, I need to let people know so that they don’t expect too much of me. I pretty much want to be left alone to my misery. Chronic pain vs. temporary seems different, however. If it’s temporary (like a cut finger or the flu), I’ll tell all. If it’s chronic, I’ll keep my mouth shut unless I know a solution.

I don’t want my life to revolve around my health. But if I were sick with cancer, it would have to. That’s where my focus would lie. In my emotional healing journey, I’ve allowed myself the luxury of focusing on the pain so I can get through it and past it. Why am I so reluctant to do the same with the body? It’s so temporal—yet it is the vessel God gave me by which I function. What good does it do anyone if I’m in bed? Guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

A 2022 Update. Today I am off all medication and doing much better. Unfortunately, in 2016 a bout of shingles attacked my right eye, and I’ve battled flare-ups once or twice a year ever since. But I’m not in pain, so all is well. I’d prefer not to have to learn any more pain lessons, please.

On Being Sick

Journal 2010. Sickness is tiring! And somewhat boring. I’m intrigued that I feel a sense of entitlement: Since I’m sick, I shouldn’t have to do dishes, cook supper, or clean house; and I should get to watch what I want on TV. But why should sickness entitle me to selfishness and self-centeredness?

When I don’t feel well, it’s very hard to be cheerful. It takes all my energy just to concentrate on performing simple tasks. I admire hurting friends who just keep on smiling in the midst of their pain. When I hurt, I want the world to know it.

I feel closest to the Lord when I feel the best physically—because I can concentrate on reading the Word and communing with Him. How can I do this with a headache or a stuffed-up nose, or I’m in so much pain I can’t focus?

I hesitate to pray for a deeper walk with God, for I fear it means affliction and trials and even illness. It’s like asking God for more patience when you know trials are what produce patience and endurance. It’s like hugging a warm coat tightly around me. I don’t want to open my coat to expose my skin to the elements just so I can learn to be tough. But God says if I remove the coat, I’ll draw closer to the fireplace of His warmth.

Another thought—what if I’m nowhere near a fire and a blizzard comes (circumstances beyond my control). It doesn’t make sense for me to take off my coat. I’ll wrap it even tighter around me. God says He can provide an extra blanket so I can weather it through.

Is it possible to experience more intimacy with God without going through trials? Can I trust Him to bring into my path that which will bring about my needed growth? I don’t want to stagnate, rot, mold, or wither. I want to grow, blossom, produce fruit and seed, and reproduce.

So . . . I don’t have to dread or fear trials, but I don’t have to ask for them either. God knows exactly what I need to increase my trust and dependence on Him. Just be a Mary, He says, and sit at His feet.