“Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” (Wesley, in the Princess Bride).
Like everyone else I know, I hate pain. Last night as I lay down, my right shoulder stiffness developed into outright discomfort (that’s what nurses call “pain”). It lances from the neck all the way to my forearm. After decades with varieties of back pain resulting from the intentional release of the seat belt that had saved my life, this is new. (Side note: when the car flipped into the snowy Saskatchewan ditch I shut off the ignition intending to exit the car. I’ve always used seatbelts, and I automatically hit the disconnect latch - and promptly fell on my head; we were still upside-down.)
But this is new. I’m not really sure how to cope with it since some movements which logic tells me should be awful, are fine, and others (leaning forward, for instance) are excruciating. Weird. (Second side note for all those who endure nurse nagging from me: yes I’m calling the physiotherapy office as soon as they open tomorrow – at seven A.M.).
In church this morning the question was asked – why does God allow pain? Fortunately the question wasn’t answered. If they’d been able to provide an answer in 30 minutes, I don’t think it would have been valid. No one wants to acknowledge the elephant in the room: we all endure pain to some level at some time, and it's often "not fair".
I forget as easily as anyone else that pain is a gift. Without pain, I would continue to injure my stressed neck/shoulder. Pain reminds me that there ARE limitations, and choices to be made. Dr Paul Brand and Philip Yancey wrote on this in “The Gift of Pain”. If small pains are ignored (think the rub of a shoe on a heel), they can lead to injury (blister). Pain can be that gentle or severe reminder that something must change. So while I wait for my physio to (hopefully) make the alignment change to fix this current issue, I can think about other places where pain whispers into my life. I’m not quite prepared to be fully thankful for pain, but I am grateful for the opportunity to be reminded…