I have a friend who is one of my go-to-girls when I want to vent about my problems, fears, and anxieties in this life. No matter what I say to her she always takes me seriously and encourages me to go on, to continue trusting God in the process’ of my life and to never give up. I do the same for her. Sometimes she gives and I receive, other times it’s the other way around. I have always admired that no matter how trivial or insignificant my present problem could be, she always listens, expresses empathy and validates my feelings. Our friendship is in a judgment-free zone. Our friendship has gone through rough patches, through highs and lows but by the grace of God, we are still standing. These past couple of months, this friend and I have been experiencing some health problems and we have been encouraging each other, making sure we stay focused. And this time I had to be stronger than her because she needed me. Today, I want to share with you a couple of things I have learned about this season of physical pain, how I manage my worst days and what keeps me going. This post is for you my friend, and for anyone experiencing the same struggles.
I must say that I am not suffering from a deadly illness or fighting with a disease that makes me incapable of living life. But I remember as a little girl I was always sick. Because I am asthmatic I spent many days of my childhood in the hospital. Other days were spent in my room with my dad rubbing Vicks Vapor Rub on my back, for me to be able to breathe properly. As a teenager and in my college years, I also experienced seasons of what I call “always being sick”. Most of them were colds, fatigue, and asthma. Throughout my college years and to this day I have struggled with muscle pain and spasms. In my late 20’s I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia. In my thirties I developed a gluten intolerance and a couple of years back I began experimenting acute ovary pain.
Recently I was sent to get x-rays of my muscles due to back and hip pain and the images came back showing that I have a reversal of the normal cervical lordosis which basically means that my neck is positioned the opposite side of where it should be and disc damage is beginning to manifest. This subluxation or misalignment of my spine if not treated, will eventually present more problems in the future. While my doctor was explaining all this, I kept asking myself, “Why do I always have to experiment with a new pain? What is the purpose of me not feeling well? Why can’t I be like “normal people” of my age that have physical strength, stamina, and energy?” Of course, I immediately felt guilty of feeling this way. I mean, there are people dying from “real diseases”, right? There are people that spend all day in bed unable to move. There are people that their days are numbered.
During the following days, as I continued pondering about all these thoughts, I arrived at the following conclusion and this is my first message to you. Just because your sickness or problem seems smaller compared to others, it doesn’t mean that it’s insignificant. Two years ago I participated in a woman’s retreat sponsored by the church that I attended in Puerto Rico. We were at a time of ministering and praying and the pastor was taking the time to encourage all of us going through different trials. She told us that it didn’t matter if people around you did not understand our problems or thought it was not too big, it didn’t mean that it wasn’t going to hurt. Of course it hurts. It is your problem and you are feeling it. She encouraged us to acknowledge our situations, no matter what people said. I will never forget her words because they resonate with me, always. The me that is always feeling guilty for my pain complaints.
When I am in pain, I feel desperate, depressed, frustrated. To me, the worst feeling is that I can’t accomplish the goals I set for myself due to exhaustion or discouragement. Months ago I started writing this blog. I had not posted for a while now. I have been feeling really tired (more than normal) and I just couldn’t sit down to write. I was already beginning to feel distressed about it. People that really know me know that I am obsessed with perfection. This has served as an engine to do my work right, on time and to do it well. At the same time, it has also caused anxiety and deception. And when things don’t go as I plan, I tend to feel like a failure. Good thing I always have my support system to get me back on track. It took me a long time to get where I am but I learned that it’s not worth beating yourself about what you can’t do while you’re not feeling well. Don’t wait for the absence of pain in your body to feel blessed or fulfilled. Don’t give up on your work, your ideas, your plans, and goals. Take your time, get yourself an accountability partner and keep going. Don’t lose the focus; enjoy your surroundings and the people that support you. Be free in the midst of your pain.
Maybe you are reading this and identifying with what I am writing. Maybe you are confused, perhaps scared. You fear the pain, the diagnosis, the future. But know that there is purpose in pain even if you don’t understand it. Don’t fall victim to discouragement. God placed resources on this earth to work with you. Use them. Take care of yourself, be responsible. Work hard to feel better. My bible says that God comforts us in all our troubles so we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort He has given us. That is purpose. And I choose to believe it. And that is what I did when my friend came to me scared and confused about a diagnosis she has been given. I listened and told her about my fight. I told her I understood and I told her that God will show her the way. Because at the end of the day, that is my assurance, that will always be my hope.