During this beautiful spring season, I find myself standing in my closet, just staring at my clothes. I wonder what shirt I can wear that won’t hurt my skin. That one is too tight, that one has material that is too rough, and that one requires an undershirt which hurts my skin…this dialogue can last 5 – 10 minutes every day.
Four and a half years ago, the shingles virus became active in my body along the left side of my abdomen and back. Though the rash was mild and only lasted two weeks, my body has never been the same since.
I can’t lie on my left side while sleeping. I have had to change my wardrobe to items that don’t rest too tightly along my skin. I’ve had to reduce my physical activity. Every day I wear two large lidocaine patches on my skin and take 3 medicines just so I can function. The pain still remains and is felt daily, but I can care for my family again.
If you looked at me, you wouldn’t know anything about my daily struggles with chronic pain. Lately I try to ignore it, because I’m tired of giving it any more time and attention. I’ve moved on in my head and tried to erase it from my story, but my body daily reminds me that the pain is still ever present.
From January of 2013 to August 2014, I was unable care for my family, to sit upright, stand up, or walk any distance. Every move was painful and breath-taking. But through doctors and 4 medicines, God rescued me from that life. I can care for my family again, exercise, and enjoy outdoor activities with family and friends. God has given me so much that I want to continue to be grateful instead of focus on what I have lost.
I realize though that it’s ok to grieve what I have lost. God wants me to entrust my pain and my hurting heart to him. He sees my pain and wants to come alongside me. My Father wants to be my comfort and my safe place. I can rest in Him and let Him hold me close.
He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.
I know I can lean into the pain instead of run away from it. I can stop trying to erase chronic pain from my story and instead embrace it. For it’s in my most painful moments, where God’s love and kindness have been the most visible.
You may not be going through chronic illness, but perhaps you find yourself nursing an old wound that you have grown tired of caring for. Perhaps you have pain lying under the surface that no one sees. Lean into the painful circumstance and embrace it. Know that God sees your wound, your pain, and your loneliness. Your good father sees you and wants to love you right where you are. Allow him to breathe His breath of love onto you today, and let His presence comfort you.