Several years ago my sweet Daddy gave me a card during one of my hospital stays for surgey. On the front it shows a picture of a little girl wearing a swimsuit, holding on to a bicycle and a puppy on a leash. She is looking at a sign that says:
Sometimes having chronic pain makes me feel just like this little girl. All ready to do something fun, looking forward to dreams I have, but I find myself staring at a lot of "Nos". It can get discouraging. It can make me want to stop dreaming, stop hoping, stop planning. There are so many times that I packed my bags figuratively or literally to do something fun, only to find that I had to unpack my dreams once again. How many missions trips I had to cancel, jobs I had to turn down, friends I had to disappoint and all because of something that I didn't choose. Being sick has a way of controling what you can or cannot do - and it gets frustrating to feel controlled by this thing called PAIN.
There are many many stereotypes that people have of those of us in chronic pain. Many of them are not good at all. Many of them are all to often true. Many of them make me want to pretend that I never have pain, to lie my way through life so that I don't have to be part of this "club" that I didn't ask to join. But, if there is the chance that I can help one person through my being honest about my strugles with pain. If I can ease one person's loneliness even a little; if i can encourage one person to choose a different kind of happiness above the pain ... then the hours I have spent in pain will be worthwhile.
Maybe it would be helpful (in dispelling the stereotypes) for those of us who are facing pain (or any kind of suffering that threatens to steal away our life and dreams), for us to write down a list of the YESes in our lives. It is very true that the suffering of life takes things away from us. My Daddy used to call it "the death of a vision". But isn't it also true that suffering and pain can give things to us that are better than the dreams we dreamed? Here is the beginning of my YES list(in random order):
1.my girls Bible study - 10 + years of beautiful fellowship and mentoring with high school girls at my church - if i had been healthy I never would have been living there are would have lost this which has been one of my greatest joys in life.
2.working at the farm - i wanted to be on the mission field in Africa - but my health kept me home where I worked at the farm - which became the place I eventualy fell in love with the man I married.
3. relationships with my family. i would have chosen to move away right out of college - but God put me back in the place where I could grow closer to the ones I love.
4. opportunities to sing.
5. songs God gave me to write - most of my most precious songs have been writen in times of great physical pain.
6. being still and knowing that He is God. many years in bed and many sleepless nights from pain have given me time to pray and to focus the the very most important relatonship of my life - with my God and Creator.
What is your YES list? Rather than focusing on the losses from being in pain, let's encourage each other to focus on the Yeses that pain has brought our way. Find the roses among the thorns.