Working through Chronic Pain Syndrome

Hello, hope, faith, love family!

I thought I’d make this blog post an informal one. I have been away from my desk lately because I am recovering from COVID, which hit me quite hard and put me out of action for a couple of weeks. 

As I was convalescing and thinking about how to restart my work routine, I would have to create a new routine since the circumstances have changed, which I will share with you in my next post.

Being in bed daily, I’ve left my budgeting unchecked and neglected my website and social media. As a result, I have not done any writing, only made a few phone calls and lost interest in anything that I once found very exciting. 

Even writing this blog post is challenging. I’ve been thinking about it for several days and now forcing myself to sit down. Still, it was just thinking about doing it when I haven’t quite recovered. I have to refocus my mind completely out of routine and when something used to be just second nature getting out of routine is like you have to almost relearn again since really very strange, whether that’s my dyslexia or just me. Have you experienced a similar thing? If you have, let me know.

 I think pain doesn’t allow you to focus on things you want to, and I experienced a lot of joint pain in my COVID experience. Laying in my bed, not knowing what to do with myself, the pain was so intense; my thoughts went to those of you who live with chronic pain, day in and day out. Mine only lasted a week, which caused me a lot of distress, but if you live with chronic pain, I understand it will drive you crazy. 

When dealing with chronic pain, one’s whole focus is on how to get through the next hour, indeed, the next minute breathing through the pain. There are many reasons for chronic pain, and I won’t deal with them here. But I want to encourage those experiencing chronic pain and struggling to live with it. I hope to bring you some measure of love and put a smile on your face, even if it’s only for a few minutes. 

Pain is such a Private and Personal Thing.

As a child in Australia, when one was sick or injured or had some pain, parents and teachers told us to put our socks up and get on with it. As a 17-year-old, I was in the hospital for three days. I had an operation on the soul of my feet because I had a verruca dugout. It was so deep I had about four stitches, and every movement of my foot was excruciating. When the pain got so much I was writhing from side to side in the bed, the nursing staff told me to pull my socks up instead of administering more painkillers. It’ll soon heal. And that is an excellent philosophy to measure because it stops one from feeling sorry for oneself while motivating one to push forward to better things into recovery. However, this attitude is not helpful when living with chronic pain day in and day out, as no matter how often one pulls one’s socks up and tries to get on with them, it never seems to work. We are human beings, and sometimes a little tea and sympathy do not go amiss.  

When dealing with pain, your resources get depleted, and you feel exhausted and worn out from thinking about how much pain you’re in. But, unfortunately, when you’re in pain, it does dominate your thinking. It dominates your decisions and lifestyle, even what you eat, what you wear, how you sleep, et cetera, et cetera; living with pain dominates every part of one’s life. And when you try to share how this pain feels with even your closest loved one, it does fall short of what you’re experiencing. 

Someone else may be battling chronic pain similar to you, but it’s not the same as your pain. We must understand that every person experiences chronic pain differently; sharing and finding solace through others can be difficult. But when one does find similarities with another, it can help and be of great comfort to you.

 Look to join a support group of some sort or therapy group. People share their stories in support groups, so listening to other people’s stories will help you not feel alone. In addition, listening to other people’s experiences will help you realise that others are experiencing something similar and may share tips about coping with day-to-day activities. 

Networking

For all of us, no matter who we are, healthy or not, networking is such an essential part of our human social experience. Whether we network for work, support or friendship, networking is vital for us to be able to live an integrated, purposeful, and fulfilling life. 

I encourage you to ask someone to help you find any support groups in your local area or a group that meets online. However, If you haven’t got anybody to help you, take courage and do the research for yourself when you’re feeling up to it. Of course, this can prove difficult because depression often comes along with chronic pain, and when one is depressed, you don’t want to do anything or try to motivate yourself.

Reaching out to strangers can be scary and problematic, but isolation is the only alternative. Suppose you have got somebody to help you with this. In that case, ask them for their assistance; perhaps you have your local doctor or your local social worker or counsellor who may be able to help and guide you in this.

Making Most of the Good Days

In my younger years, I worked as a nurse. I am an ordained minister of 40 years, hospital chaplain, mental health chaplain, counsellor, and coach. I’ve come across many people with chronic pain who say, ‘today is a good day; yesterday was a terrible day.

 I learned a lot from these people. First, they taught me well that making the best of their good days made them as productive as possible. We all need to find meaning and purpose and setting goals to fulfil our dreams is essential. 

It’s like the old saying ‘make hay while the sun shines ‘. You never know; tomorrow might be a bad day spending most of your time on bed rest. So if you find yourself with strength and vigour today, use it to do the things you want and need to do.

 Here’s a word of caution when you feel better, don’t overdo it because when you feel good, and you feel great, I can do things I haven’t done for a while, and you can go overboard and find that you wish you hadn’t you might you have set yourself back. So, gauge yourself, take it little by a little, and set your daily goals. Make realistic goals. If you don’t complete them, that’s fine when you’ve got another good day to fulfil those goals.

  Communicate with Your Loved Ones

I had one child who would never open up and talk to me. I would ask her to come and sit down and have a chat because something was bothering her, and she would reply -‘ you don’t understand.‘ My reply would always be, ‘share it with me; I will try to understand. ‘

She would look at me blankly, shrug her shoulders, repeat the chant- you just don’t understand and walk off. This unsettling behaviour continued through her teenage years and very sadly into adulthood. It hurts when you want to help someone, and they refuse. However, if they give you the benefit of the doubt, they may find that you want to listen to their problems and help them through them. 

So, the point of this little story is that please do not ‘presume’ that your loved one does not want to hear about how you’re feeling. Instead, ask, ‘may I share with you how I feel today?

 It will probably be the wrong time if you suddenly dump all of your mad, bad, sad feelings upon them without any warning. There is a chance that you’ve caught them at the wrong time and are unprepared. They may want to listen to you but can’t listen to you at this particular time. If this happens, you could easily take it as rejection. 

 People are busy and have a head full of things they have to get done. They have their issues to cope with, so it’s best to ask them if you could about how you’re feeling today. In taking this cautious approach, you’re also respecting their space and time. If your loved ones learn a bit more about what you’re going through and how you feel, they may be more ready to learn how actually to support you. If they don’t want to listen, I am sure that there is somebody else, if not within your family, but a friend that will be there with you and for you through thick and thin.

Keep the Faith

I find it hard to do any form of Bible study devotion or even formal prayers when unwell. However, I do talk to the Lord like I am talking to you; it’s just that I can’t do anything structured and organised, which leaves me exhausted, and my mind is all over the place! 

When you are experiencing chronic pain daily, you may find that any form of structured Bible study and prayer may be impossible. Yet, nurturing your faith is essential because, like anything else, it can wane, get weak then eventually disappear through neglect, and you don’t want that. 

When you are not up to prayer or Bible study, audiobooks can help. If you have a smart TV or an iPad, signup to Google and download the YouTube app, it’s completely free, and you will get unlimited access to YouTube.

On YouTube, you will find audiobooks, hundreds of Christian audiobooks and indeed fiction or any other books that you want to listen to. You will also find the Holy Bible, sermons, Bible studies, prayers, and more. In addition, you will find the complete audiobooks of the Old and New Testaments. Even if it is for 10 or 15 minutes a day, listen to the Bible and allow it to soak over you. If you are alert enough, take a few notes as you hear the person narrate whatever part of the Bible you’re listening to. Don’t forget to ask your Pastor or Christian friends to pray for and support you.

Don’t Give Up

I’ve already shared that I’ve ministered to many suffering from chronic pain syndrome. In my observations, once a person gives up on themselves, gives up hope of any remedy, or stops learning how to cope with their pain, they begin a deep downward spiral. 

Don’t allow your circumstances to overwhelm you to the point where you don’t want to carry on living and withdraw from people and society.

People with chronic pain often self-medicate once they’re in a lonely state. When there is no one around you to love and support you, addiction can develop very quickly. Before you know it, you can be addicted to prescription drugs, alcohol, or even illicit drugs to cope with the pain. Addiction is just a big, endless pit of horror that is deeper than you realise and challenging to get out of – so I encourage you not to go there in the first place.

You’re Stronger Than You Think

Don’t give up on your ability to find your way through this; you are far more potent than you think. And for those of you who have faith in God through the Lord Jesus Christ as you call out to God, he will strengthen you and help you to find that you have got ideas and the motivation to fulfil those ideas to be able to help you to live a more fulfilling life.

Facing the mountains in our lives can be difficult. Any sickness, whether associated with pain or not, is a horrible place. When we accept our situation, we find a way to cope with the condition. I’ve seen folk who have struggled against their situation and refused to accept their condition are more likely to slip into depression because they will not face the reality of what they are experiencing. 

Even though I walk through the valley of the Shadow of Death

If you want more help on this subject, pick up a copy of my book on Psalm 23, Unwrapped by Paula Rose Parish, from Amazon. 

You can get Psalm 23 Unwrapped in paperback, and I am now editing it to create the Kindle book, which will be available on Amazon soon. 

I have taken Psalm 23 verse by verse and unwrapped its meaning to help you get through your valley of the shadow of death. Father God says that ‘even though I walk through the valley of the shadow’ – in other words, when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death. 

God never said that you would find never experience the valley nor avoid the valley, go around it, or pretend it’s not there. God didn’t say- confess it away, pray it away!

No- God is even though you walk through the valley, Father God is with you, walking with you. God is there to bring comfort, healing, and strength. Psalm 23 Unwrapped explains how to journey through that dark valley into restoration.

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Well, thank you for reading this blog post. I hope it was helpful to you. If it was, please like it, and if you haven’t already, please subscribe to this blog so you can get updates every time I post. 

Until the next blog post or a video, God bless you and remember to live life on purpose in hope, faith, and love.

Paula Rose Parish💕

A LENT Bible STUDY- Live as disciples who are willing to suffer for Jesus .

The season of Easter preparation (Lent) has a way of keeping any fairy-tale illusions of the Christian life at bay. After celebrating Advent and Christmas with all the festivities involved, we may be tempted to think the Christian faith is just another attempt to enjoy life according to our fantasies.

 But the season of Epiphany opened our eyes to see the gospel story a little deeper than simple dream-fulfilment. We come to see who Jesus is, and who we are in relationship to him. We are then thrust into the season of preparing for Easter, where we must adjust to what we have just seen.

LENT

This is a season of repentance—changing our mind about who we think God is, who we see ourselves to be and how we view our world. Everything has changed now in the light of Christ. Easter preparation calls us into a reorientation that fits the reality we have come to see and know in Christ. This can be a painful but necessary repentance if we are to enter the transformation held out to us in Jesus.

The context of our text today mirrors this journey. After Jesus heals a blind man at Bethsaida, he then goes to work on opening the eyes of his disciples. Epiphany set the stage. Jesus asked them how other people saw him and they reported some circulating speculations. Some said that maybe he was John the Baptist back from the dead or even better, Elijah. Others simply thought he was one of the prophets. But the great illuminating discovery came when he asked them personally who they thought he was. Peter served as the mouthpiece to the amazing revelation that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah.

Their eyes were beginning to be healed of spiritual blindness. But like the blind man at Bethsaida who needed Jesus’ hands placed on him twice before fully seeing, the disciples would need further healing before they would see plainly. They may see that Jesus is the Messiah, but they would need to adjust their thinking to fit Jesus’ revelation of how he will fill out the role of Messiah. Easter preparation is underway. This is a painful reorientation for the disciples, and it may hold some painful revelations for us today as well. But as Jesus redefines what it means for him to be the Messiah, we will have to face the fact that this will redefine what it means for us to be his disciples. But once we make it through this section, as painful as it may be, we can take comfort in the fact that the next story Mark records in his Gospel is the Transfiguration, which we covered two weeks ago. The hard work of repentance during the season of Easter preparation leads us into transformation. So, let’s read the text.

Read Mark 8:31-38.

Notice the passage begins with “He then began to teach them.” This was Mark’s way of signalling that Jesus was entering a new level of ministry with the disciples. He was about to give them a much fuller picture of what they were involved in, and it wouldn’t be easy for them to hear.

The disciples had left everything to follow Jesus and they were excited to be part of what God was doing. Even with their ups and downs in following Jesus, they must have had some sense that they had signed up with the right rabbi. This journey was going somewhere great and they didn’t want to miss out on it. But Jesus knew his time with them was short and that his disciples were not prepared for what lay ahead. So, Jesus doesn’t speak a parable, he doesn’t tell a story and he doesn’t sugar-coat his teaching. As Mark records it, “He spoke plainly about this.”

Jesus’ plain speaking involves four things that Jesus “must” go through. In the NIV the word “must” appears twice in this proclamation. Jesus does not leave us with any other options or ways of viewing how he fulfils his calling. There is no plan B , rehearsals or loophole in being the Messiah, and as his disciples did, we often look in vain to find an alternate way of following him. Jesus knew that when the going gets tough, his disciples would be tempted to pack up and go. But there is no going around the word “must.”

Let’s look at the four things Jesus said he must go through. As we survey these four things, keep in mind that as his disciples, we “must” go through these four things as well.”

First, Jesus said he must “suffer many things.” Not only must he suffer, but he must suffer many If there is one thing most of us want to avoid, it is suffering. Especially in the American culture, avoiding suffering seems to be many people’s highest calling. But not so for a disciple of Christ. We trust Jesus in our sufferings, and we know we do not face them alone. Nor do we find our sufferings as working against us. Jesus works in our sufferings to bring about his good purposes. This is good news.

Suffering is unavoidable, but in Jesus, we can see that even our sufferings are adding up to something of immense value. Nothing is wasted. So, instead of trying so hard to avoid suffering and being completely miserable while suffering, we can be thankful for what God is doing in our suffering and take comfort that God is with us.

Second, Jesus said he must “be rejected”—and not by just anyone, but by those of high standing. This also can be a hard Messiah to follow. Surely Jesus should be concerned about his reputation, right? Especially among those who have some influence in our lives. But Jesus leaves his reputation in the hands of his Father. He trusts the Father with his reputation so much that he is free to be the obedient Son even when that means confronting those who may give him a bad name.

 How often do we fear rejection to the point that our reputation becomes our true object of worship? Being a following of Christ is not about protecting our reputations or making a name for ourselves.

If the first two weren’t bad enough, Jesus lowers the boom with the third one—DEATH. Here lies the offense of the gospel. Jesus is a King who dies on a cross. That doesn’t sound like a Messiah worth following.

The last thing Jesus tells the disciples is that he will rise again after his death in three days. Jesus tells them how his suffering, rejection and death will be answered by resurrection. But the disciples didn’t even acknowledge Jesus’ claim. They could not get past the idea that a Messiah and Savior of the world would have anything to do with suffering, rejection or death.

After Jesus sorts out what it will look like for him to be the Messiah, Peter quickly reacts as a disciple who wants nothing to do with it. The cultural expectations of disciples in the ancient Middle East would frown heavily on Peter’s rebuke of Jesus. Disciples were to listen to and learn from their masters and should never correct them. Peter rebuking his teacher not only paints Peter as a hot-headed and bold disciple, but also exposes how shocking was Jesus’ description of how he would fill out the role of Messiah.

The Jewish people’s understanding of what a Messiah would look like in the first century helps shed some light on Peter’s extreme reaction. The picture of a Messiah for the Jewish people would not be associated with any of the scriptures that speak of suffering or death.

It was only after Jesus’ death and resurrection that the early Christians understood these scriptures to be speaking about the Messiah. So, when Jesus refers to the Messiah in these terms, it is a radical departure from the mindset of the Jewish people’s view of a Messiah.

Peter’s criticism was meant to be in private, as we are told he “took him aside.” This private reprimand may show Peter’s attempt to protect the image he had of his master rather than publicly disgracing Jesus to the watching crowd. He is still trying to protect Jesus’ reputation, which of course would reflect on his own. Peter’s reaction is no small thing, as the word for rebuke here is the same word used when Jesus exorcised a demon. Peter is mightily struggling to repent of his way of thinking to align with what Jesus just told him. What Peter needs to repent of is his desire to follow himself instead of Jesus. As long as Jesus leads in a way that Peter wants, he was willing to follow. But now that Jesus has turned down a road he doesn’t want to go, he rebukes his master.

Surely Peter is not alone in his response here. How often do we rebuke and resist Jesus when he leads us down roads that require us to die to ourselves in one way or another? It’s a lot easier to follow Jesus when we think suffering is not involved. Are we willing to follow when Jesus leads us to a place where we have to swallow our pride and not hold so tightly to our reputation? In short, how willing are we to die to self in our daily living? Surely Peter is in good company

Jesus has a response to Peter that cuts to the root of his problem: “Get behind me, Satan… You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Peter, who just proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah, is now speaking for Satan. Jesus doesn’t let Peter fool himself into thinking that he just misspoke out of a misunderstanding. Peter’s problem is deep, and it runs through all of us. We are often more concerned about our own interests than God’s will—just like Satan. When we resist following where Jesus leads, we are cooperating with the devil. It’s God’s grace and love that causes Jesus to resist our resistance and rebuke our rebukes. He doesn’t let us settle for our self-centred and not-of-God orientations.

Beginning in verse 34, Jesus addresses the disciples as well as the crowd and teaches them what it means to be his disciples. This message is not just for the church, but for the whole world—whether we want to hear it or not. Reality doesn’t move for dissenters. Jesus goes on to talk about a life of denying oneself for the sake of following Jesus. We are called to find our life only in Christ, which will mean we must die to everything else that competes with that allegiance. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in his book The Cost of Discipleship, “When Christ calls you, he bids you to come and die.”

Much of our culture invades our beliefs and attitudes that Jesus must rebuke and set right for us to follow him. We are so ingrained with the way the world works, that we can be convinced that we are in the right and God must be in the wrong when he leads us away from the cultural landmarks of success and comfort.

Mark tells us the setting of this story took place in the villages around Caesarea Philippi. After King Herod died, his kingdom was divided into three parts and given to his three remaining sons to rule. The northern region, where Caesarea Philippi was located, was given to Phillip the Tetrarch. Caesarea Philippi was an area where political power struggles and games were played. This was not to be the way for Jesus’ followers then, and it is not the way for Jesus’ followers today.

Jesus is still calling for disciples to turn from our power grabbing and self-seeking ways and to humbly follow him as the only true Lord and Saviour.

The Message is for us today that We are to live as disciples who are willing to suffer for Jesus, willing to be rejected for Jesus, willing to die to self for Jesus, and willing to acknowledge to all that Jesus is the true Messiah, Lord and Saviour.

😀So many people want their faith and church to grow. The problem is to figure out where to begin. This site is about helping people do just that. It’s for anyone who feels stuck in their faith and longs for a breakthrough. It’s for people who are exploring Christianity and want to know what it’s all about – apart from what they see in the media. If that’s you – please consider subscribing.

Paula Rose has a Bachelor of Pastoral Counselling and Theology, Vision Christian University, USA

Master of Arts In Counselling & Professional Development, specializing in Spiritual Abuse The University of Derby, UK.

BACP Life Coaching Course, Bristol, UK

A life member of (ISFP) The International Society of Female Professionals.

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Paula is a Wellness Coach Ordained Minister, Blogger, Podcaster, Course Creator, Published Author and has a Master of Arts in Counselling and many other qualifications and a lifetime so, I have heaps to share with you.

Paula is a life member of (ISFP) The International Society of Female Professionals

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