Deuteronomy 31:6 - Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Have you ever watched a dance recital? These graceful dancers hardly ever make a mistake. Their training and strength are evident to all. It takes a lot of practice to be able to dance in public where the entire world can see you.
I, too, step onto the stage except it’s not a dance recital, but the stage of pain. I may move around the stage in grace, but I often miss that last jump and fall flat on my face.
I scold myself for trying such a bold move. I shouldn’t try to dance while my body screams at me. But what else am I to do?
Stay in bed?
Stay away from the happy times waiting for me to enjoy?
But when you live with chronic pain, the happy times are far and in between.
So let’s say you decide to plan a special outing once every six months.
But of course I’m not talking about a real dance floor, though it would be fun to dance, I’m talking about the stage of life.
Dancers spend years practicing and learning how to make their bodies move gracefully on the stage. They also stay conscious of each move and the movements of the other dancers.
This is what those with chronic pain have to do as well.
Practice in your mind how you will spend your day out. Think about the ways you will need to move your body, and where the chairs are located so that you can sit down when you need to. (Knowing where the bathrooms are is also important.)
Life is indeed a stage. What are you going to do to get yourself out on the dance floor and enjoy life? I’ve already given you a few ideas, but what else can you do to find some happiness in the midst of your painful circumstances?
Happify.com posts in their article, “9 Tips for Finding Happiness When You’re Dealing With Chronic Pain,” suggests positive personality traits like optimism can impact the body’s perception of pain, and we’re not programmed to feel good while we’re feeling physical pain, and we shouldn’t expect ourselves to. We don’t have to let it ruin our day.
So, back to stepping out onto the stage of pain. Remember, that even if you fall, know that God will never judge you and he will give you the credit for trying. Walking our lives with grace is possible, mistake or no mistake. It just means remembering to not try doing it alone. God will goes with you when you step out onto the stage, and he will never leave you nor forsake you.
2 Corinthians 9:12 - This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.
You haven’t worked in years. You know that it’s because of your disability, but you still miss interactions with coworkers. Besides, no one would hire you because you are sick most of the time, right? But how about taking a look at things from a new angle?
There are many opportunities in communities across the country waiting for people to give up a few hours a week to contribute. You could do that. And you’d get that interaction you miss.
Here are some ideas:
Take a look at some other volunteer opportunities on moneycrashers.com in their article, “12 Ways to Volunteer Your Time and Give Back to the Community,” such as volunteering at a local school, organizing a yard sale for charity and becoming a docent at a local museum or theater.
And as you volunteer, God will give you the strength you need to do so a few hours a week. He knows that just getting out of the house and being around people can help you feel better. Also, as you serve others through volunteering, it’s also a way to express your thanks to God for all he’s done for you.
Proverbs 15:30 - A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.
You have a dilemma. You’re coming up on the date of an important surgery. You’re following all of your doctor’s instructions leading up to it. But there is something else to consider – Would it be a risk for me to be around other people because it’s the flu season? Should I stay at home as much as possible?
Many people during the flu season use common sense and stay home when they have the flu. But others, carrying their coughs and all, go shopping, visit with family or go to church even if they’re still sick.
But do they? I know that some of you will be angry with me, because if they stay home they don’t get paid and that means no money for bills. This is true, but what if there is someone in the desk next to you that has a lower immune system and is at risk of getting sick, also?
Back to our question concerning surgery, so here you are trying to stay well for your surgery, because many times a surgery has to be canceled because you are ill. You’re at work and keep hearing the man on the other side of the cubical repeatedly coughing and blowing him nose. You edge your chair as far away from him as you can, but you know his germs can still find you.
And as far as shopping or going to church, should you venture out and risk exposure in these situations as well? Probably not.
But here’s the rub – Why should you have to be the one who misses work, even before your surgery date? Why should you be “punished” when someone else brings germs with them?
Realize you’re not being “punished.” You just have to be aware of your surroundings when you go out.
For suggestions on how to protect yourself from becoming sick before you have surgery take a look at what doctors and nurses do in the article, “12 Ways Doctors and Nurses Keep From Getting Sick.” Their suggestions include some unusual ones including carrying your own pen with you so that you know no one else has touched it, and hold your breath and don’t inhale deeply if you’re near someone who is sneezing and coughing.
In addition to the suggestions in the article above, take a look at what the Bible verse above says. As hard as it may be when facing a surgery, focus on the positive aspects such as getting the chance to have a surgery that may improve your health. This is indeed good news and can help bring joy to your heart and a smile to your face. It can also help keep you healthy.
Psalm 3:5 - I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
When a child is a baby or toddler, they take naps throughout the day. They tire easily, and require that extra sleep.
When a child goes off to school, they still may require a nap during preschool and kindergarten. But once a child grows up, and is in school for the day, naptime usually disappears unless they’ve had a very full day.
As a parent, you don’t think much about your child taking a nap. It’s just what they do. They run full speed ahead and then crash and burn. No one would chastise a child for needing some down time, but if you’re an adult, a nap can seem out of the ordinary.
For those of us who suffer from a chronic health condition, especially chronic pain, a nap isn’t out of the ordinary. It’s required. It doesn’t matter if we’ve spent the day at home or have been running around most of the day, because when we enter the afternoon hours, our bodies beckon us to rest. I need that nap to survive the day.
I’ve been made fun of more times than I can count because I take a nap. But if I don’t listen to my body and rest, I can’t make it through the day. Not physically and not emotionally. I come to the point of tears when exhaustion hits, because I’ve listened more to others’ criticisms than to what my body is trying to tell me what I need.
In addition, those of us who struggle to make it through the day can be found preparing for bed earlier than most. This, too, can make other people frustrated with us especially if we’re in the middle of a social function, or simply watching a movie together on the couch. But my body has a rhythm that beats to the drum of my pain, and it requires me to turn off the music and listen to the silence.
Is taking a nap during the day such a bad idea even for people who are healthy? According to mayoclinic.org in their article, “Napping: Do’s and Don’ts for Healthy Adults,” there are benefits from napping such as quicker reaction time and memory. The article also discusses what the drawbacks of napping are, and when you should consider taking a nap.
So you see, taking a nap to survive the day isn’t something to make fun of another person for. They just might need that nap, and even the Lord sustains us when we sleep. He understands why we need a nap and will awaken us with renewed energy. Go ahead and take that nap, and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.