So most of you know I had surgery on my back last summer. I had a prolapsed disk which was pretty big and really flippin’ painful. It meant 3 months off work, ongoing physio, giving up my beloved running (hopefully temporarily) and a lot of bed rest.
However, you might also know that this time was a total blessing, I’ve written about it before and how I wouldn’t change the experience as it was just a wonderful time with God.
Anyway now here I am, 8 months on and still living with some pain. I’m not going to go into the boring medical details but basically it is just taking a long time to heal, plus I have another dodgy disk. It’s not terrible pain, I’ve still got my pharmacy of painkillers ready and waiting if needed but largely the hard stuff isn’t needed. I saw a physio last week for some ongoing advice and she described what I was suffering from as ‘chronic pain’. I did not like this phrase at all. It suggests to me something that isn’t going away and whilst she did talk about trying to be pain free (and I’m trying some new stuff) there was an element of ‘managing’ the pain. I don’t know why this phrase offends me so much, after all it is chronic, it’s on-going and has been for a while, I guess it’s the naming of it that I find hard. I don’t want to be someone who has ‘chronic pain’ it sounds so terrible, so final, so debilitating… so… weak. I can’t handle being weak…
So in recent weeks I’ve been anxious about the pain and worrying about whether it might get worse, or if the same thing happen again. I’ve been cross and grumpy, cried a fair amount and yes I’ve prayed a bit too, or if I’m honest, more like moaned at God like some whiny teenager…
Then this morning I was chatting to someone about it all and as we were then praying I really felt a bit of a correction from God. Well quite a big one actually. I had just been saying how I wouldn’t change the whole experience for anything, how it was a complete blessing and had changed my faith as a result of it all, and God was like, ‘oh, really? But I thought you said you wanted this pain to go ?’. All of a sudden I realised actually I had disassociated the pain I am feeling now with that ‘experience’ from last summer. I was just being grumpy about it and not recognising that actually without it, I wouldn’t have had that time with him, it’s all part of the same thing. Does that make sense? I’ve basically been a total hypocrite saying yes it was amazing, I wouldn’t change it and then on the other hand whinging about the pain and wishing it gone!
Have I actually been asking God to change it, after all? Do I really wish that time away?
No! Of course not, and in fact the experience is continuing as I have to take time to walk each day which means more prayer time, I have to lie down and rest which means time to read or reflect and I am just so much more focussed on God. So what is it that I am moaning about? Actually in the suffering (which is really not that bad in the scheme of things) He is with me so much more than ever.
So now I’m repenting and turning about, 180 degrees, a Volte Face moment. I’m praying that whenever I feel the pain I would see it as a blessing, or at the very least as a reminder of God. Instead of being anxious or frustrated I want to embrace the experience that God has given me, to reflect on his presence in my suffering, to be filled with joy at what he has done. So when I feel pain, I will turn to Him, when I feel a twinge, I will not be fearful but turn to joy, when I feel down and disheartened that I can’t yet run, I will remember all the wonderful prayer walks I have had with Him. I will see this as a lingering blessing rather than chronic pain.