The Chronic Pain Guru

I hurt.

On a scale of 1 to 10 -- I was up all night waged with a scale of 11-20. For the most part, I am a peaceful person. I love Jesus. But, I am not here to preach. I am here for the identity of spirituality within the shackles of chronic pain.

At its core, chronic pain is an obnoxious companion. I liken it to hanging out with a teething, hungry, sleepy toddler. Incessant whining and tantrums in the grocery store, followed by soiled britches during church. This spawn stinks up every aspect of that which might bring peace.

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These words began scripting while I was in a restorative yoga class. As I took deep breaths and exhaled peace, love, and all things sugar coated, my partner in life, pain, screamed obscenities at me. It baulked at every stretch. Like a Tourette's patient, agony broke through the loving silence and mystical ancient Indian flute music and flung curse words and hatefulness at me.

The level of clarity I had hoped for was diminished by this unwelcomed comrade of mine.

Still, just for a moment, I am tempted to look at the clarity I do seek. Would I pursue this if I were pain-free? Or would I unknowingly overlook tulips and fireflies if I were jet setting about ignorant to movement and immobility? If I weren't prisoner in this injured frame, would I miss that which I have come to appreciate in the chaos of hurt?

I am not a glass is half full kind of girl. I wrestle with the "Why me?" I get mad that this is the hand I have been dealt. I tenderly stomp my foot so as not to aggravate my condition -- but still express my frustrations.

It is not fair.

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But, life isn't.

Somewhere on the heavenly, divine, astrological, mystical or metaphorical, I must cope. I must. I have a family. People that count on me, and people who I count upon to function. I am slain with the malady of chronic pain and perfectionism. A deadly combination. My brain is in constant competition with my brokenness. Nine times out of ten brokenness seems to conquer my hopeful brain. My lofty expectations are kicked to the curb and I climb back onto my bed to wallow in the anguish.

It occurs to me this makes me deeper than some. Richer if you will. This fleshy nightmare I am walking makes me ponder things that might be wasted on me otherwise. My soul seeks fundamental truths in the midst of agony. Why does the nervous system behave this way? Surely there is a higher power that knit together this mechanism called body. Could I be so uniquely designed; taste, touch, smell, feel? Had I simply slithered from the mossy depths? Perhaps? If the stars were aligned just perfectly... just so? And if not, if I were indeed created by a loving God or force, why does he/she/it not rescue me from this chamber of horror where I experience chronic pain?

Upon my yoga mat I twist and my insides cry out to Jesus. Flat on my mat, with my eyes closed, I inhale restorative oxygen and mysteriously exhale toxins and useless snuffle. I am aware of every vertebrate and every bone. Each muscle and nerve ending that cries out brings me back to a place of wonder. A place of profound discerning and scrutiny about this enigmatic lifetime.

As I lie in the dead man's pose, Shavasana, recovering from that which I do to recover, my mind argues with itself. God of Israel, Buddha, voices in my head, sleepy narcotic induced yammer? I can't be certain. But in that moment, in the silence, on every healing breath I am faced with this positive: Am I better at my worst? Am I deeper? Kinder? More empathetic? More sympathetic? More? Does this hurt make me function at an increased level of spirituality? Am I more appreciative of the little things?

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I hope so.

I hope that it isn't just some cruel hoax or twist of hand.

I hope I encourage and bless.

I hope I will find answers that make life not hurt so much.

I hope this hurt makes me wiser, deeper, and above all spiritual. Not religious, not altogether weird. Just spiritual. A place where my sprit seeks more than comfort -- a place where my spirit knows, loves, and understands.

Pain is altogether selfish. Chronic pain is the God of selfish.

My soul seeks to worship elsewhere.

Amen.