Second close-up of pictureA few years ago, someone asked me if I was in constant, chronic pain. I replied, “I am always aware of it.” I think my response was a bit confusing to the person who asked, and he did look puzzled. But it was a more accurate description of the place of chronic pain in my life.

Yes, I experience ongoing chronic pain, so I am always aware of it. But my state of mind and spirit is not one hemmed in by chronic pain. And for good reason. If all I thought of was my pain, it would take over my attitudes toward all else, too. To be “in” pain would mean that it was all-encompassing, all around and in me, to the exclusion of anything else.

But, even with the pain I have, which can be very severe, I recognize other qualities in my life and spirit, too, that help me balance the place that pain has. Carefulness is one of those qualities – being protective of the joints that hurt and doing what my docs suggest to help them heal, even a little. And another quality is gentleness. I find that the more I am gentle with pain, the more calm my spirit is, and the more balanced I feel.

I once saw a world-class tennis player beat up on herself – truly. She had her legs taped nearly shoe-top t0 thigh, and could not move as agily as she needed to keep up with her opponent. Finally, utterly frustrated, she took her tennis raquet and began to whack her legs one, then the other. Needless to say, she lost the match. And I have to think that whatever injury she’d tried to protect with the tape was worsened by her self-infliction of more injury.

But, when we dig deep and find that part of us that is gentle, we can turn from digging into our pain. And, when we turn to our gentle and loving God, we can bring even more soul-deep balm and therein find greater strength.



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