Paused by Pain

“Why don’t you just get over it already?”

“Suck it up and deal with it!”

“Stop being such a baby.”

I cringed. The words stung like pure acid on a gaping wound. My own criticism was executing revenge.

A few months ago, I had spouted those words in great confidence to the “whiners” around me. Their chronic distress was a damper to life and I was convinced they were bluffing. I justified my sentiments by thinking real people can deal; they just move on with life.

But now I was the one in pain- real, physical, chronic pain. What was worse, no one could decipher the symptoms. Nothing showed up in the blood work, CT scans, ultrasounds, or any other test the doctors could think to run. As the evidence for my condition vaporized, my pain became suspect. “Just man up and deal with it, Laura!” My mind reeled with the hasty assumptions I had made about others in similar situations.

The truth shamed me: I was wrong.

I was wrong to assume others didn’t have real pain. I was wrong to expect them to “get over it” and be happy. I was wrong to criticize. Pain hurts. Perhaps that is obvious to most, but without experiencing it myself, I could never have imagined the awfulness pain creates.

Trying to be tough and acting like there is no affect only worsens the wound. Being brave doesn’t mean you wear a mask. True bravery is honesty. It’s okay to have a horrible-no-good-rotten day. Or several. Be real and tell the truth. I had so many bad days I wasn’t sure if they would ever end.

Have you ever noticed how intense pain, whether physical, mental, or emotional, alters your capacity to think clearly and make logical decisions? One of the wisest statements my dad made during this season of sickness was, “We never cry alone.” He knew I would inevitably cry when the pain would cross a certain threshold. And he knew beyond that point I would not be able to process the situation and get the help I needed. It’s true of all of us. When the pain intensifies to the point of irrational thought, we need someone to do for us what we cannot do ourselves.

I regret every pep talk I quipped. Forgive me. Pain tenderized my heart and silenced my judgment. Now I can’t help but pause to empathize with others. I feel your pain.


2 thoughts on “Paused by Pain

  1. Laura, I’m very glad to have been notified about your blog through LinkedIn. I am a CollegePlus student in case you were wondering where our connection was. 🙂

    I have been dealing with chronic and sometimes severe pain for over two years now and I can relate to the frustration caused by an elusive (or non-existent) diagnosis and by the brief, unfeeling admonisions to toughen up. I still have no real diagnosis and only some treatments that help a little.

    Though I have occasionally turned to God through this trial I know I have mostly withdrawn – from Him and from everyone else. I have felt seperated by the pain, looked down upon by friends and pastors, and ultimately bitter towards them and toward God. I hate this feeling of bitterness, hardness, isolation, anger… And I realize that, once again, I am the prodigal son – longing to come back to my loving Father who I have run from in my foolishness.

    I feel encouraged by your post on stillness to throw myself at His feet and remain there whenever possible. And to turn off all the devises I use to “medicate” and distract until the day is over and I can escape life by sleeping. I know God has more for us in this life than to wait and pray for it to be over soon. I need to listen to the Gospel telling me how much He loves and cares for me rather than my own thoughts which tell me I have been abandoned.

    At any rate, I’ll be reading your blog regularly now that I know about it. Thank you. 🙂

    • Aaron, thank you for taking the time to share. I continue to learn how pain can be a blessing in disguise as it allows us to rely more fully on the All-Sufficient One, Jesus Christ. He alone is our Refuge and Strength (Psalm 46:1).

      Be encouraged, God is creating a masterpiece out of the pain!

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