Girl in pain

Girl in pain

She’d been in excellent health. But, as quickly as a gunshot, my wife began to feel an unbearable, strange, and unrelenting anguish. My spouse is now in chronic pain. 

Shin shocks, nerve flares, an excruciating flurry in her spine, whirling in her brain, stomach aching. Every time.

Naturally, she began looking for physicians, sifting through internet forums, and pressing into our church family. As the weeks passed, so did this weird parallel world of individuals suffering in similar ways—the majority of the time with rare relief. 

It was known as persistent pain. They shared a similar story: one of their spouses suffers from severe pain. 

Doing Research

We heard tales, read papers, listened to testimony (some hopeful, most not), and studied clinical research. We gained opposing viewpoints, significant skepticism, mild mocking, and a great deal of dread. 

“This is so overwhelming,” she said over and over. 

Even after only a year, the suffering has been excruciating. A dozen physicians (at the very least), a hundred different types of supplements, a thousand tears, a million inquiries, concerns, and false promises of miracle cures. 

A lengthy journey lies ahead. And, sure, I keep using the word “we.”  Marriage is like competing in a sack race. We are in this together as one body, even if my partner is physically suffering from severe pain. 

We still have a lot to learn. But here’s what we’ve learned thus far. 

To a partner who is in chronic pain

Here’s the steel God has forged in my wife’s soul through sorrow as I asked her to reflect on her new normal. 

1. Remember what you were supposed to do. 

Ask Jesus to disclose the work He has for you today, no matter how difficult, excruciating, or possibly dismal the day is. You are important to Him, to us, and this Kingdom. He is a constant source of assistance in times of need. 

My wife frequently keeps a direct and honest journal about her pain. It’s also about family. She raises three sons under the age of five with herculean effort. 

2. Adjust your expectations.

You cannot achieve what you used to during the darker seasons. So, as Christians, respond to yourself better than you deserve (what we call grace). Give yourself a reprieve for the pain.

Accept a shorter to-do list. For my wife, this sometimes means setting modest goals. Laundry? Nope. Are your children content in their beds? Yup. Okay, lovely morning. 

3. Make a case for yourself. 

People with the best intentions may cause the most damage. Their ignorance-fueled “advice” is reminiscent of Job’s friends: “Oh, it’s just stress.” “It’s all in your head.” “Here are two Advil for the pain; take them daily.” 

Advocate for yourself like a precious image-bearer of God, whether it’s a close friend or a doctor. You’re not crazy. 

4. Take proper care of yourself. 

It’s not un-Christian to take care of oneself. Read that sentence again. 

I like watching my wife eat healthily, exercise consistently, take nightly detox baths, steal her favorite Starbucks drink, and have me wash the dishes so she can memorize another passage of Isaiah 43. (her current project). 

I’m glad she surrounds herself with individuals who are fiercely dedicated to her. She’s learned to ask for assistance when she needs it for her pain. 

You, too, have individuals who want to help you in some way. So, request it! Don’t let pride or a fear of being a burden keep you from participating in the work of the body of Christ. That is a sign of spiritual disorder. 

Furthermore, the thoughts of persons suffering from chronic pain frequently transform into battlegrounds of persistent dread and worry. Set aside time to learn Scripture. It will keep you grounded in reality when the winds of the dread blow.