Monday, January 14, 2013

Don't Allow The Pain To Get In The Way

I reach for drink of coffee. I ponder my day. Over the last few weeks I have been in more pain than normal. Living with chronic pain isn't something you can ever prepare for and you find yourself dreaming of one day with nothing hurting. Head or body.

A few weeks back I took a fall. Now this I cannot blame on any illness. This was more along the lines of my own goofiness. I was in the bathroom, with my leg propped up on the counter, as I was fixing my hair. Have mercy. I was on the floor before I knew what had happened. I found myself just laying there, thinking, "How in the world did that happen?" Well, I went out that night to see, "The Hobbit", with my girlfriend and was in pain, but not bad. It didn't hit me until in the middle of the night when I tried to move. Ouch!

There are days where I feel like if it isn't a migraine it's my Fibromyalgia acting up. Maybe it's my thyroid levels again. Oh wait, it could be the arthritis that I have inherited. Do you ever just wanna say, "Thanks a bunch, but you just keep that in your genes"? Asthma is horrid in the winter. Ah, but see, although I know I'm a mess, I know it could always be worse. I didn't come to that conclusion over night. It has taken me years to get there. Yes, I live with chronic illness, but it isn't going to hold me captive. It is something I have. It's not something I am.

When you live with pain or just simply having health issues all the time, you almost get use to it. A morning comes along where your head isn't pounding and your body doesn't feel like you've been hit by a bus and you wonder, "Hey, what's going on?" You hop out of bed with excitement! Your ready to head for the zoo and maybe make it an all day event. You get ready, get all packed up and then there it is. Yes, that cluster migraine that seemed as though it had packed it's bags and headed north. But no such luck. You might be thinking you have a black cloud over your head about now, but no. It's the weather front that is right over you that has brought on the vision change and the jack hammer in your temple.

On Saturday I woke excited to spend the day with my cousin. I was sitting up in bed having coffee. I turned to my husband and heard something pop. I should say, I felt something pop in my neck. Not sure if it could be heard, but it was sure felt. Once again, I thought, "You have got to be kidding me!" I was determined to go and share the day with Melissa. I'm not sure if the pain subsided or it was my sheer determination. You know, sometimes that is exactly what it takes to make it through the day. We shared a terrific day of lunch and the St. Louis Art Museum. It was pouring rain during my drive home. My neck was beginning to feel very stiff. By that night I was crying. The pain moved from my neck and down my spine. It was horrid. But you know, I just kept thinking, "At least it's not a migraine".

That pain has hung on even today. It's much better, but it has left a few sore spots that battle for my attention. So for me, that's the thing. Where is it I want my attention to be focused? On my pain or am I going to add up my blessings? If I allow the pain or bronchitis to hold my attention I am down in the dumps, covers over my head and the pity is piling up. Isn't that right where Satan wants us to be? He sure does. If our focus remains on the pain, there isn't room for the Lord to move. If my eyes are focused on the pain I miss out on blessings that the Lord has for me on this very day.

He doesn't just put them aside and say to me, "Okay Rob, when you feel better, take a look over here, because I have some special gifts set aside for you." He looks at me, His daughter, and says, "This isn't all there is for you today. Shift your focus off your pain and spend time with Me." Yes friends, it's then that my perspective changes. My pain isn't gone. It's still there, but I'm no longer focused on it.

My husband purchased a few new bird feeders for me. He filled them up and I waited. The birds are there every morning and evening feasting on the treasure before them. Today I seen two different kinds of woodpeckers that are new to the feeder. I can just look out and yes, it's mighty cold here in Missouri, but it's not even the cold I see. It's the beauty of God's creation.

I think of the little things, having a great cup of coffee with my husband. Being able to pen from my heart. Stacking books around my bed and escaping to another time and place. Opening my Bible and getting my devotionals out to focus on the Word. Spending time with Daisy makes me smile. Looking at old photos of our children. Getting a phone call from my granddaughter. Friends, when we are in pain, we must make an effort to move our focus. We must be more determined than ever before. It's through this determination that I have grown closer to the Lord.

It's finding motivation in others who live with chronic illness. It's making a choice to say, "Okay, I may be in pain today, but I refuse to give in and let it take captive my blessings". Even more importantly, it's taking those pain free days and running with them. It's learning to not take one single day for granted.

I've learned I can express myself through my pain. So many people live with pain. Pain that knocks them over. We live in a world filled with hurting people. I can start a prayer journal. I can spend a few minutes sending texts out to others just to add a smile to their day. Write out a few cards to those we know are struggling. Most of all, seek the Lord and ask Him, "Lord, what is it You are calling me to do today? Take my day and use it for Your glory". That totally changes the focus of our day. The Lord becomes our focus and it now becomes a mission to reach out to others.

I'm not saying this works for me every day. There are days the pain is tough. Sometimes migraines go on for days and the body aches and joint pain just sets me back. I just want to curl up and give up. But friends, again, even when I don't feel like I can do anything, I can pray. I can take those hours in bed and simply decide to give them to the Lord. Lifting others up has a way of bringing comfort to our own hurting body.

Pretty soon if we aren't careful we can begin to use our pain or illness as our excuse. We soon forget to look for the beauty of the day and just fall in to the pain. I know, I've been there. But I am learning. The stuff my body has been through in the last ten or so years has taught me lessons of value. In each surgery I have thought, "Oh, I will never get through this", but I did. In ever appointment of rehabilitation after I injured my wrist, I came home in tears. I didn't want to go back, but I did. I have learned that with each circumstance the Lord has allowed to touch my life, He has prepared me for the next. He has taught me great lessons of compassion. I am stronger today than I was ten years ago. I never expected myself to be, but I am. Not because of me, but because of the Lord and all He has done in my life through. Despite the pain and illness I face, He has such mighty lessons for my heart to learn.

Yes, I have learned to value every single moment of my life.  Every day isn't going to be pain free, but every day can be a day where I try. Where I make a choice. Where even in my pain I claim victory in Jesus.

"Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through Him, we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope does not disappoint because God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Romans 5:1-5

"I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things, but I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. I press on to reach the end of the race and received the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us." Philippians 3:12-14


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