1 Thessalonians 5:14 - And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
It’s difficult for people who don’t have chronic pain to understand the burden that falls on the shoulders of those who do experience it. But why is it so difficult to understand chronic pain?
Most people have experienced painful occurrences in their lives. They may have fallen and broken their arm, or have experienced normal headaches. To them, pain’s window into their lives only opens now and then.
Therefore, when they look at someone with chronic pain they don’t understand why someone would put so much emphasis on it, and make it consume their lives. They don’t see that the window to pain stays open every day.
Those with temporary pain see pain as something that comes and goes; not something that lingers for days, months, years and perhaps the rest of their lives.
So for those of us who experience chronic pain, our emotions become raw in the face of one who has no idea what we’re going through -
But unless they’ve experienced our pain, they just can’t understand.
I’m not saying this to make someone feel bad, but to open their eyes to the reality of the kind of life those with chronic pain live. However, we need to show our pain-free friends the benefit of the doubt. They don’t understand. They shouldn’t be held accountable for something they haven’t experienced. This may bring those with pain much frustration, but we must cut them a break.
Yes, I said we must cut them a break. We may think that if we can sit down with them and try to give them glimpses through our open window that they’ll get what we go through. But sometimes no amount of explaining is going to help them understand.
One way, perhaps, is to have them walk with us through a few hours, or maybe even a day and watch our lives. But since that may not be possible for your pain-free friend to do, another way is to have them read the article, “A Day in the Life with Chronic Pain,” on psychologytoday.com. The article chronicles from the time an individual with chronic pain wakes up to the time they go to bed.
Another article, “My Invisible Daily Struggles as a Person With Chronic Pain,” on themighty.com chronicles daily activities and how the individual’s body feels throughout the day as they do them.
Though everyone doesn’t have a window to pain open all of the time, they can have glimpses into our lives and may begin to understand why it is difficult to understand chronic pain, and want to be part of relieving our burdens instead of adding to them. In the same way then, as the Bible verse above talks about, we can encourage those who are disheartened, help the weak, and be patient with everyone.
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.