Chasing the Pain


**The winner of the "Remarkable Hope" giveaway from last week: Natalie Hannan. Thanks for participating Natalie!

A Shifting Line

I went grocery shopping with Chris on Saturday. It felt normal. It felt good. Normal always feels good. So I decided to brave going to church on Sunday. For the most part, my church family hugged gently and it was wonderful to be out of the house. Sunday was also Hope's Suzuki violin graduation. Wild horses couldn't keep me from that wonderful event! She worked so hard last year to finish Book One. And I adore watching her play in big groups, always at the front among the littlest vilionists. I'm so proud of her.


Together my first trips out of the house (groceries, church and violin graduation) added up to a big weekend out. By the end, I was sore and exhausted. Just another bump on the path of recovering from surgery.

When I'm recovering, my daily limits move a little further each day. I gain the ability to do more today than the day before. Usually. Inevitably, I will overdo it one day causing me to take a step backwards for a day or two. It's just part of recovering. The line, the edge of my limit, moves but I don't always know how far. Sometimes I blow right past the line and then I pay for it.

This is what happened this weekend. I should have known better, but even for a pro like me, it happens.

Chasing the Pain

I was feeling much better on Saturday so didn't take Tylenol as often. Then, I overdid it on Sunday. Monday was hard as I paid for Sunday. By the evening, I felt beat up. My next step was Tylenol and a bath.

This happened again on Tuesday and Wednesday. Oh, my soul. Will I ever learn? It wasn't until Wednesday that I realized I had cut Tylenol out too soon. I should have known better. I should have kept taking Tylenol but at longer and longer intervals of time. Instead, I just stopped. I didn't think it through.

I created a cycle of pain:

  • pain creeps up and becomes overwhelming

  • take Tylenol to knock it down

  • feel better

  • don't take Tylenol (because I feel better)

  • pain creeps up and becomes overwhelming

  • repeat...

Last year, a kind nurse explained to us how this cycle works. She called it "chasing the pain" and it's not a good way to go about getting well. When your body is in pain, instead of using energy it needs to do healing work, it uses energy to deal with the pain. So chasing the pain is actually slowing down the hard work of recovering.

It feels counterintuitive. I want to believe that if I don't need Tylenol, then I must be better. But the truth is that I still need Tylenol to do the work of recovering, even when (for a few brief hours) it feels that I don't need it. I have to trust the method, trust what my body is telling me in the hours it is not medicated. I cannot trust the temporary (& medicated) messages my body sends or the desire I have to believe that I am well.

That is true for my body, but it is also true for my soul.

Stopping for Solitude

A spiritual high from a retreat or weekly Bible study is truly a blessing. But it is temporary. What my soul needs is the same thing my body needs, regular rest. Rest for my soul cannot be found in a bottle, but it can be found in nearness to Jesus. For me, to rest with Jesus means more time with Jesus. My soul needs consistent doses of time with Jesus.

Something I am learning, deeply learning, through my recovery periods is that stopping is good for me. It gives me time to notice, to reflect, and to learn. Stopping to be with Jesus has become my work of soul recovery.

I've shared this before and I'm gonna share it again, my soul needs silence and space. Room to be with Jesus. Another word for that is Solitude. My recovery periods give me built-in doses of solitude with Jesus. And I've found that I love it. I've had so much of it this past year that now my soul is craving it. My soul wants more Solitude.

Life is hard. Not just for me. I know you are in your own season of hard too. Some of it is painful. I'll tell you that, yes, I'm in physical pain, but my heart is in pain too. Medical trauma is triggering adoption trauma in our house. And it's painful to watch. Painful to live through. I don't want to chase the pain anymore. I want to get ahead of it. To heal my heart, my soul, by giving it the support it needs now. Daily. In the midst of the pain.

But how to find Solitude in the midst of life, especially once I re-enter the "normal" of healthy life?? That is the question I've been working on. Reading. Learning. Practicing.

Lately, I've altered my rhythms and routines to make space for the solitude my soul craves. I have set alarms to remind me to stop, take a break, go outside, read a psalm, whatever it takes to slow me down. To stop. To make a little bubble of solitude with Jesus wherever I am in the midst of my day. And it's been wonderful! Like, life altering. You're going to hear more about it in the weeks to come. It's just that great!

What does your soul crave? I what to know. I don't think I'm alone in this. And I don't think I'm alone in struggling to find ways to feed my soul. Let's hear what you've got. Help a girl out.