We all go through pain. Some physical, some emotional, some relational. This week I am sharing about a recent experience I had with pain and what I learned through it. Please know that whatever pain may be experiencing, I’m sorry. I probably don’t understand, and I am in no way trying to level pain to the same playing field- it’s all different, requiring different responses and courses of action. I simply want to share my story so that you will be encouraged and so that you will find hope in our Healer, Jesus Christ.

You can read:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3 

continued from Part 3…

I finally got some good sleep Monday night (thank you pain medicine!) and Tuesday I was well taken care of. Stacie took Efraim for the day (that was huge!) and my dear friend, Laura, brought dinner for me and the kids- not to mention goodies for my life group that evening (amazing!). My mother-in-law took Lily to her gymnastics class, and by late afternoon, I felt like I had survived the worst of it.

Filipe returned home at 11pm that night, and while the pain didn’t diminish, having him home sure did help. We had big plans that week. We were planning to celebrate my birthday Wednesday night with our family and then go to Seattle for the weekend (just Filipe & I). I was determined to patiently endure, and not let anything get in the way- even shinglesAnd guess what?! It didn’t. In spite of the pain I was experiencing, I enjoyed every bit of it all. It wasn’t exactly the way I would have chosen it, but you make the most of what you’ve got. And to be honest, I felt God’s blessing on us throughout the entire trip. One of my all-time favorites (so far)!

Through everything I went through, most of all, I felt loved and supported. That made all the difference.

Lessons Learned:

1. Do what you can.
Many days I was tempted to give up. I was probably justified if I did, I was in a lot of pain. But if I had, I wouldn’t have felt better. In my situation, nothing made me “feel” better physically. I did call for help when I did needed it (and didn’t feel bad about it), and I used wisdom in determining my capacity level. But the thing is, there were things I COULD do. Doing what I could helped me focus less on the pain and more on the task or activity in front of me. In the middle of it, I finished a big goal I had been working diligently on for months. That felt great!

2. Ask God for help.
In our over-medicated culture, we tend to rely more on what doctors tell us and the facts of our diagnosis than the One who has the power to heal us and take away our pain, Jesus Christ. As I prayed and asked God to help me “patiently endure”, I believe HE did. I don’t know how I could have done it without Him.

3. Understand pain can be hidden.
This one has two side.
1st- I encountered many people during my ordeal, but only those closest, and the ones that took the time to ask, knew what was really going on. I wasn’t hiding it, I just didn’t want attention because of it. I didn’t want people to know from the look on my face that I was in intense pain. I continued to lead my life group. I was friendly around the other parents at Lily’s school and Cailyn’s ballet class. I greeted guests at South Bay on Sunday morning. I even chatted it up with the receptionist at the doctor’s office Monday morning when I thought I was losing my mind.

We don’t have to burden others with our pain. I guess I’m just not one in search of pity, and from strangers and acquaintances, that’s all I would have likely received.

2nd- I realize that just because I see someone smiling, doesn’t mean pain isn’t close behind. I’m reminded that sometimes we have to ask more than just the “how are ya?” question in passing and dig deeper. People will open up when they know you truly care (I did). Whether it’s the server at your restaurant meeting your every demand, the hair stylist you depend on to keep you looking your best, or the faithful barista behind the counter that gets your drink right every time. Any one of them may be in pain (of any kind). Would we even notice?

I want to notice.

While I may not be able to make the pain go away, I can pray. I can offer hope. I can encourage. The simplest text message or note of encouragement were huge to me. While I may have the only one in pain, I wasn’t alone in going through it.

4. Endure with Patience.
While I may not have done everything right, I didn’t complain nor did I whine about the pain. I patiently endured. Of course I didn’t do it in my own strength. It was only the power of the Holy Spirit that got me through. He worked in me.

Is it a coincidence that the day I began internalizing, “God blesses those who patiently endure…”, I had an experience to take it for a test-drive. It seems as if God allowed an application to my learning? (A good teacher always does, right?) I’m not saying that God caused the shingles, but maybe memorizing James was more His idea than mine. Either way, when it comes to the Word of God: this time I believed it, this time I felt it, this time I experienced it. Shingles and all, I’m thankful for having learned, I’m thankful for experiencing more of Him because of it.

I’m also thankful that it’s going away.

How am I doing now?
Most of it’s cleared up. I wake up with slight back pain in the same area, but it doesn’t last long. My skin is mostly cleared up, it feels like a minor sunburn. The end is in sight.

Q4U: What has pain taught you?