Life With Pain – What I Lost

Pain and suffering leave a deep scar.

Even if there’s no outward evidence of the damage, pain leaves a mark on the psyche and the spirit that is permanent. Lately, I’ve been running a mental finger over that scar, reminding myself that I didn’t imagine it all. It wasn’t just a bad dream. Like a tongue seeking out the hole of a missing tooth, I can’t resist exploring that area over and over again.

I want to write a story, a story about how God sustained me, how my faith was strengthened, how I’m better for having suffered, but I’m stuck. Looking back at the endless years of seizures and pain, depression and drugs, I feel so much grief. At times I’ve become frantic, trying to make sense of it all and trying to figure out why all of this happened to me in the first place.

Somehow, I need to come to peace with the fact that I may never know why but I finally realized that I won’t find peace until I acknowledge the grief – until I lament.

So…this is my lamentation. This is what I lost.

I lost memories. I lost time.

Pain robbed me in so many ways. Suffering cheated me out of so many things. It didn’t just cheat me, it cheated the people I love.

A single event or moment in time will stand out and I can easily recall the sounds, smells, and emotions of that time, but the bigger picture of my past is baffling to me. The harder I try to make sense of it all, the more frustrated I become. There are huge gaps and holes, years that are just a fog.

I was forty years old when I lost my license and much of my life to seizures. Sam was 3, Rachel was 5, Ashley was 18. As a grown woman with three children, I became dependent on my parents, my family and my friends. I couldn’t drive my kids to church, couldn’t get to the grocery store on my own. My sense of self disappeared along with my self-confidence.

I have pored over old diaries, medical bills and calendars, to cobble together the timeline of my life. It’s helped jog my memory but there are still gaps of time I can’t account for.

Just writing this makes my eyes sting with tears. Because, in those huge gaps of time, my three amazing kids were living their lives, without a ‘fully present’ mother. I can’t retrieve those years, those sweet childhood moments. This causes me no small amount of pain and anguish. I’ve tried, time and again, to surrender what I can’t pull back, to trust that God was by their side when I was not, to believe that their dad and grandparents and all the other well-meaning and generous adults in their lives, did the best that they could to make sure Ashley and Rachel and Sam were cared for and loved, but it still hurts. I weep for what we lost – for what they lost.

I don’t want to revisit the pain and admit how much all of this must have affected my children but I long to move beyond this, to redeem the pain in some small way.

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I lost my self.

Because, to my mind’s eye, my scars are so obvious, the change in me so dramatic, it is disconcerting when I meet someone who only knows the new me, the after-pain-changed-me me. What is even more confounding is when someone, who I’ve known since ‘before’, treats me as though I haven’t changed.

Can’t they see that I’m completely altered by the experiences I’ve been through? Surely they see it tattooed on my arm or written on my forehead. How on earth can they miss it?!

In the years since my recovery, I’ve regained my sense of self but I’m not the same as before. I lost the old me.

I lost my faith.

At my lowest moments, God was lost to me.

All my life, I felt His presence. I didn’t always want to feel it, because that presence was, at times, convicting me, pricking my conscience and challenging me. But it was there. He was there.

F. Scott Fitzgerald said “In a real dark night of the soul, it is always three o’clock in the morning, day after day.”

In my three-o’clock-in-the-mornings, God was silent. There was a gaping void where His presence had once been. That void beckoned me in the dark hours of night and sometimes even during the day. I grieved the loss of His presence as I grieved the loss of my health. My depression was a pit that I climbed into. I could smell the musty earth and feel the cool gravel between my fingertips. That dark cavern became comfortable and it was harder and harder to draw me out.

I lost all hope.

This shouldn’t be over-spiritualized. There were physiological factors involved. I was clinically depressed. Pain and heavy medications dramatically altered my brain chemistry.

At one of my lowest points, my dad came by to visit. The timeline of this isn’t clear. But I remember him coming into my darkened bedroom and sitting by my bed. I was in the fetal position and barely responded to his presence. I can’t imagine how that broke my father’s heart, seeing his girl in such physical pain and mental anguish. He stroked my hair and sang softly. After singing for a few minutes, he started praying and I began sobbing.

“He’s abandoned me, dad!” I cried out.

“I can’t pray anymore. I can’t read my Bible. I have nothing left. I’ve failed God.”

He passed me a tissue and waited for my sobbing to subside.

“Karen, you don’t have to pray. Let me pray. Let it go.”

It is a terrible and terrifying thing to lose faith. For someone who was raised from birth to believe, to ‘trust and obey’, it felt like a betrayal of not just my faith but my family, my history, my childhood. Everything that had been firm and certain, was now sinking sand. There was nowhere for me to gain a foothold.

That’s when I rediscovered Job, Jeremiah’s Lamentations and the Psalms of David. I’d read them many times before, but in my previous life, I focused on the Psalms of praise and the Psalms of comfort. Now, I found comfort in the grief of Job and the Psalms of anguish. I felt a kinship with David in his moments of darkest despair. I read his words and wept as I cried out to God.

“Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep?
    Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.
Why do you hide your face
    and forget our misery and oppression?

We are brought down to the dust;
    our bodies cling to the ground.
Rise up and help us;
    rescue us because of your unfailing love.”

These are things I lost. Maybe tomorrow I will recall the things I found.

Guest Post – A Wonderful World (A Response to Terror)

I had something else prepared for today but, once again, the world is rocked by terror. The people of France are dealing with the aftermath of yet another horrific terror attack. Last night, as thousands celebrated Bastille Day in the beautiful seaside town of Nice, men with hate-filled hearts drove a truck through the crowd, shooting and running over innocent people. 

My friend Patricia DeWit, lives in France and just returned from a relaxing holiday in the very spot where this attack took place. Eight months earlier, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks took place near their home in Paris. Pat wrote the following article in response to those attacks. Unfortunately, these words ring true for her and the people of France yet again.

 

 

Terror attack in Nice France

In childhood I truly feared …

Frankenstein coming up the stairs

A werewolf under my bed

A tornado flinging our house into the air

A house fire in the night

War, atomic bombs and nowhere to hide

The Rapture, being left behind

Armageddon

My parents getting divorced, or worse, being killed in an accident

Getting head lice

 

In adulthood I truly fear …

Getting into a horrible car accident

Losing a child

Kidnappers

Losing my husband

Losing my parents or siblings

Getting fat

Getting murdered in the forest

My children getting head lice

 

They say that except for the fear of falling and the fear of snakes, all other fears are learned. In the past year I have seen something. It taught me to be afraid.

Terrorism.

Terrorism came like a hardball through the window and rolled to a stop at our café, La Belle Équipe. When terror hits your city, you can’t just hide beneath your bed.

If we slept at all on November 13, 2015, we woke up feeling the aches and pains of survival. We got our coffee as usual but cut our feet on the shards, leaving a bloodied footprint on the cobblestone streets.

I felt small, like sitting where my feet didn’t reach the floor. We called on God and angels and doctors. Each siren’s wail was another raw prayer. With each flatline in an emergency room, someone’s walls collapsed.

When terror comes to your street, for a while you don’t care about any of the places on the map except one dot that says “you are here.” Surviving is painful because it is underlined in the red ink of someone who didn’t.

After terror we wait for tomorrow because they say that time heals all wounds.

So tomorrow comes. Then another. And another. Slowly you don’t feel quite as afraid, not so jumpy. But nonetheless, that day is a sticker on my suitcase that won’t let me forget “I was there when …”

How am I?

If you had asked me a few months ago, I would have answered, “Not fine, thanks.”

Anyways, “fine” is a word that lies.

If you were asking now, I’d have to say I’ve gotten used to a new way. Take today, for example. On my way home, I stopped on the bridge behind Notre Dame, sat on the curb along with many others, and listened to some live musicians. While the guy was singing the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun,” six fully armed soldiers walked in front of me, with the barrel of their weapons inches from my face.

I know. You want me to be fine, to be filled with faith. And victory. And give God the glory.

I know. You want heroic, or at least missionic-sized fearlessness. (You might remember that I have told you never to see me as a hero for I knew moments like this would come, moments when I’d be unheroic and afraid.)

I have faith. I can imagine a wonderful world again. ONLY I must feel all the feelings first.

After all, isn’t the comfort of God only as great or as deep as our suffering and weakness?

Isn’t His protection felt more acutely in our vulnerability? I admit my weakness and own my vulnerability. I lay my life down for you to witness what happens when God does what only God can do.

Which brings me to The Gospel According to Bob Thiele. He wrote the song that Louis Armstrong made famous in 1967—“What a Wonderful World.” That is quite a hymn; a declaration of faith if ever there was one. You see, at the time the song was written, it wasn’t a wonderful world at all. It was released during the Vietnam War, after the Six-Day War, and it was only six months before Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. See what I mean? Not much of a wonderful world.

Was Bob Thiele blind? Naive? A Pollyanna?

I think he had an ability to shift his focus. He started looking for other things. And he found them. He found the beauty on the top shelf, in the things that war and racism could not touch … a baby’s cry, people greeting one another, a rainbow, and the colour of the sky.

So simple.

So victorious.

And then it comes. That moment when you shift focus, and you can imagine (have faith for) a different outcome, and your emotions begin to turn around. First Faith. Then Hope. Then …

You knew it was coming.

Love.

After terror, love makes you a bit hyperactive when it comes to seeing and appreciating little things. After terror, you see mundane things in a brand-new way.

Everything is made new?

Nope.

Circumstances are different?

Nope.

Everything is the same as before, but we make a crucial decision to process things differently.

So this past Sunday I walked to church. I took the long way, through the market, along La Seine, and then crossed the city to the other side. I heard an avocado vendor shouting, “Un euro pour deux.” Two gals dressed as 1950s pin-up girls flirted with their eyebrows as they sang “Clementine.” Children’s chubby fingers sneaked bread samples while parents pretended to scold. I saw grandparents pushing strollers whose handles were heavy with bags of fresh produce and scraggly teddy bears. The man at the crêpe wagon taught his daughter how to make coffee and kept referring to her tenderly as “mon amour.” The bells of Notre Dame rang out much longer than usual, announcing a new “man and wife.”

Is it too much of a stretch to consider all of it as a sacrifice of praise, a collective and very flesh-wrapped sighing of relief in the ears of God? I like to think that for God (who told us He collects human tears), a quickened heartbeat is a standing ovation. In my expression of faith, every time people think to themselves, It’s a wonderful world, terror is defeated and God gets glory. In the midst of this fear and terrorism, the presence of God, the gospel, is the answer and our hope. That is why God has called us here—to show that with God, it can truly be a wonderful world.

(This article originally appeared in the Testimony Magazine. Reprinted with permission from the author.)

Patricia DeWit and her husband, Peter, are PAOC global workers in France. Learn more at https://paoc.org/donate/PeterDeWit.

The Simple Beauty of Uncertainty – Making Room for Mystery and Wonder

I’m right and you’re wrong. Period. End of story. End of discussion.  

 

Whether it’s how to raise children, how to deal with the homeless, whether the toilet roll should go over or under, which candidate is sending us down the road to mayhem and destruction or what the government should do about ISIS – or healthcare, or immigration or… you get the point. I know what’s right and why you’re wrong.

This is the tone that currently dominates all avenues of media.

Those of us in the religious community are particularly susceptible to stating our claims with a stubborn dogmatism.  But this attitude isn’t evident in religious opinions alone.  Every day, as I read and engage with friends on-line, firmly entrenched points of view are presented on every subject imaginable, ranging from the current political climate to health issues and, of course, the raging debates among mommy bloggers about an infinite variety of parenting topics!

There is little room for doubt or uncertainty.  And if you do doubt, we certainly know what that means.

You’re weak or stupid.

Let me admit something to you today.  As I get older, I’m uncertain about most things – judge me how you will.  

The stubborn, entrenched stance that I used to take on EVERY SINGLE ISSUE now happens less and less.  

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a strong-willed person and am not known to shy away from voicing my opinion (just ask my family).  Most of my life, I expressed those opinions with absolute certainty but lately…I just don’t know.

After raising three children, I am bereft of parenting advice. The candidate choices we are left with are…confusing at best and my opinions about how to deal with ISIS, immigration and healthcare are, more often than not, lacking in conviction.

Thirty-five years in and I don’t know what the key is to a lasting marriage.

I have more questions than answers regarding pain and suffering and bigotry and hate and mental illness. I don’t know why these things even exist.  

Here’s the thing. Being uncertain has allowed me to listen with respect to what others are saying and has forced me to dig deeper into the wisdom of God’s Word.  

Certainty doesn’t allow for wonder.  It dismisses mystery.  It denies paradox.  It doesn’t leave room for growth or learning or listening. It traps God in a very small box.  And that box cannot possibly contain Him.  

But, I’m coming to peace with the not-knowing because this is what I DO know.

Wonder encourages empathy. Mystery invites creativity. Paradox stimulates conversation and insight. Doubt forces us to ask bigger questions. And God is big enough to handle that.

What do you think? Does the unknown terrify you? Does being uncertain rock your world?

For I am convinced [and continue to be convinced—beyond any doubt] that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present and threatening, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the [unlimited] love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39 AMP

I’m A Rock. I’m A Puddle.

I’m a Rock.

I’m solid and strong.

Reliable.

Calm.

Composed.

I’m not worried.  I’m at peace.

I’m holding it all together remarkably well. Don’t you think?

I’m juggling all the balls – mom, volunteer, breadwinner, friend, grandma, wife, business owner, employee.

 Look at me!  I’m doing a bang-up job!

 

Puddle

 

I’m a Puddle.

I’m a soggy mess.

Blithering.

Exhausted.

Incompetent.

I’m worried and fearful.

I don’t ‘get it’.  I don’t even know what ‘it’ is.

I could cry for a week and sleep for a month.  I feel a sense of panic over the thought that I don’t have time to do either.

Those balls I was juggling yesterday? They have become the weight of the world and they are resting on my shoulders.

My body and my blood pressure are in complete rebellion. The peace that I felt last week is eluding me now.

 

I am Clay.

I’m not solid.  I’m not liquid.  I am moldable, pliable clay.

I’m not as strong as I pretend to be nor as weak as I fear I am.

I’m clay in the hands of my Maker who is forming me daily into a vessel fit for his use.  

He knows where my strengths lie and where my fears hide.  I can’t do this alone.

 

I surrender.

 

“Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”  

Isaiah 64:8

How are you feeling today, dear friend? Are you a bit of a puddle, trying to become clay? I pray that this day, you will find peace in surrendering to the One who holds you so tenderly in His hands.

 

 

Are the Beatitudes For Suckers?

Have you read The Beatitudes lately?

I recently revisited the gospel of Matthew, chapter 5 and was struck by how contradictory Jesus’ words are to the voices dominating the present-day North American church. Divisive political rhetoric, an emphasis on a Prosperity gospel and fearful discourse are currently drowning out all other points of view.

Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount are directly opposed to most of what the modern-day evangelical church has come to represent. It made me wonder. What would The Beatitudes look like if we wrote them today?

Perhaps they would look like this.

Cursed are the poor in spirit, for they lack faith.

Cursed are those who mourn, for they aren’t thinking positive thoughts.

Cursed are the meek, for they will always be failures.

Cursed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be called idealists.

Cursed are the merciful for they are suckers.

Cursed are the pure in heart, for they are naive.

Cursed are the peacemakers, for they will be conquered.

Cursed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for they were not well-armed.

Cursed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Complain and feel sorry for yourself, for you need to maintain your standard of living and nobody has the right to call you names.

Contrast the above with the following. Here’s the setting. Jesus has just returned from his time of testing in the desert. He is traveling around Galilee when he encounters Peter and Andrew, then James and John. He invites them to become religious radicals, taking up arms to defend themselves and overturn the Roman empire.

Scratch that.

He invited them to be ‘fishers of men’. He hung out with the sick, the diseased and the mentally ill and brought healing.  People were drawn to him and large crowds followed him throughout the area.

That’s when he spoke the following words.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” 

Matthew 5:3-12 NIV

Blessed are the pure in heart

 

 

When you read the true, tender words of Jesus, they ring clear, like a melody, they wash over you in a wave, like a benediction. They also sound radical and revolutionary in a terrifying and beautiful way.

So, how did we get to the point where…

  • we mistake our comfort for our rightful inheritance.
  • we hoard our abundance in disdain of the poor.
  • we let fear dominate our lives and influence our decisions.

Are you tired of the clanging and the noise? Does the constant stream of anger and division wreak havoc on your spirit? I know it does mine.

I invite you to join me – let’s spend more time meditating on the words of Jesus instead of the rants of a political pundit, an angry talking head or a religious spokesman and let the truth of God’s Word bring clarity to our minds and peace to our souls.

Opioids and Me – A Story of Drug Dependence

My eyes popped open from a deep sleep. Drenched with sweat, my body weighted to the bed with fear. The smell of smoke filled my nostrils and my heart drummed in my chest. I lay there, panic-stricken and struggled to get my bearings. A thick fog filled the air.

It suddenly hit me, like a lightning bolt to the chest. “The house is on fire! Wake up!” I screamed and shook Steve in a panic. “We’ve got to get out! Get the kids! The house is on fire!” In spite of, or perhaps because of my fear, I made no attempt to move from the bed.

Steve sat up and rubbed his eyes. He turned and looked at me like I was crazy. “What are you talking about? There’s no fire, Karen. You’re dreaming.”

“Dreaming!? What do you mean? Can’t you smell it?”

Alarm bells pounded in my head and every instinct said run but my body failed to connect with my brain so I sat there frozen, staring at Steve with mounting panic and confusion.  

As the fog in my head cleared, I realized there was no fire. I sniffed the air for the pungent, smoky odor, but it was gone.

I was hallucinating – a side effect of my opioid dependence.

pain-medications, opioid dependence

Last week, the medical examiner’s office revealed the legendary artist Prince died of an accidental overdose of Fentanyl at the age of 57. The dose was self-administered. As I listened to the reports and read the articles that littered the internet, I felt conflicting emotions – grief, at the thought of the pain he must have suffered – indignation, at the assumption he was an addict – anger, that yet another beautiful life was cut short and relief that I didn’t suffer the same fate.

My story started with a twinge.

I worked as a barista in a coffee shop when I first noticed the subtle, nagging pain. It quickly worsened and eventually I received the diagnosis – carpal tunnel syndrome. I endured seemingly endless rounds of doctor’s visits, delay tactics and the deeply rooted incompetence of Worker’s Comp for months on end, as the pain increased. The limits of my disability leave were reached and I lost my job.

Finally, carpal tunnel release surgery was approved. Unfortunately, the light at the end of the tunnel was an oncoming train. The surgery should have provided relief but ended up causing me further harm. I suffered a posterior shoulder dislocation and torn rotator cuff during the procedure and when I came to and the anesthesia wore off, I felt a searing pain unlike anything before.

The injury went undetected and it was over a month before my shoulder was reset. Several doctors gave me cursory examinations during that period and missed the obvious. My complaints didn’t match my earlier carpal tunnel diagnosis so they ignored the excruciating pain in my left shoulder. Instead of getting to the source of my pain and treating it, they increased the levels of pain medication and added antidepressants, hoping that I would eventually stop complaining. The delays in treatment resulted in years of pain, and a battle with CRPS, as I struggled to recover.

I wasn’t addicted. I was ‘dependent’. That’s what they told me. But I can assure you, there is a razor thin difference between the two.

I walked the tightrope of dependence, unaware that the slightest misstep could send me plummeting into a pit of addiction or lead to an overdose.

There is something incredibly powerful about the fear of pain. Avoid pain at any cost – that is the natural human response and the mantra of modern medicine. But the drugs the doctors gave me masked the underlying cause and sidestepped the issue. Only after years of living in a drug-induced stupor did any doctor encourage me to manage my pain without drugs or give me the tools to learn to live with the pain.  

Here’s something they don’t tell you about opioids. After prolonged use, their efficacy decreases and often, as in my case, they cause the pain to increase, through a condition called  opioid-induced hyperalgesia. Completely unaware of this effect at the time, my condition worsened as weeks, then months, went by. Phantom, unrelated pains and neuropathy appeared throughout my body.

At times, I twitched like an addict itching for a fix as I rode the daily roller coaster of opioid dependence. Every single nerve and muscle in my body cramped. I doubled over – shaking and rocking for hours on end – finding it impossible to stay still. The constant movement left me exhausted.

 

drug capsule eat me drink me

At other times, I lay in bed and fell down the rabbit hole, like Alice in Wonderland. My body seemed to expand – bigger and bigger like a human balloon – the pressure so intense, I feared my head would blow right off my body. The bizarre sensation was followed by contraction, as the balloon caved in. I shrank smaller and smaller and prayed I would disappear in a cloud of dust.

I wasn’t an addict. My drug use was under control – or so I told myself.

After all, I received my prescriptions through a physician and always, I mean usually, took only the amount prescribed. I never lied or stole to get my meds. I just asked. My doctor never failed to give me what I needed wanted.

At the beginning, I took Advil and Tylenol. When they were no longer effective, my doctor prescribed high doses of Motrin. When Motrin didn’t cut it, Vicodin did the trick. When Vicodin wasn’t enough, I received Percocet. When the pain became unbearable, OxyContin became my friend. When I couldn’t make it through the day on Oxy alone, my doctor prescribed an amazing miracle drug that would provide relief all day – Fentanyl.

At my lowest point, I wore a daily Fentanyl transdermal patch, with a steady diet of Oxy and a morphine kicker, along with a myriad of antidepressants and other drugs. How on earth I survived and continued to function despite this deadly cocktail is a mystery to me. The fact that I continued to drive is terrifying, to say the least.

Repeatedly, my family expressed their concern at the amount of drugs I consumed. I thought they were overreacting. After all, I trusted my doctor, and any time I questioned the new prescription he provided, he reassured me.

I felt safe in my doctor’s care.

My dependence on opioids dulled the pain in my body for a while but increased the pain in my spirit and created a whole slew of adverse side effects.

Antidepressants were prescribed for the depression that set in, followed by anti-seizure meds for the neuropathy. Anti-nausea medicine was prescribed to combat the constant queasiness and when my bowels rebelled and quit working, they prescribed laxatives and enemas.

I dragged through the days like a freighter in a fog, slow and lumbering, without proper tools of navigation. Sleep eluded me and the little sleep I did get was haunted by nightmares and nameless fears. I existed in a limbo state – not asleep but not fully awake. As my depression deepened, I lost all interest in life, in food, in going outside or being with my children. I had no desire to seek out friends and couldn’t concentrate to read a book. Laying in a stupor, my hand clutched the remote and I channel-surfed my life away.

Modern pain medications provide relief for many who need it. They are essential to the proper and humane management of debilitating and chronic pain. However, we are bombarded with constant messages that pain should be avoided at any cost. Oh, what a cost.

I also believed, at that time, that God wanted me to live a life of abundance and freedom from pain and suffering. But when my faith wasn’t strong enough and my prayers seemed to go unanswered, I was convinced I’d failed God.

In the years since my recovery from opioid dependence and chronic pain, I’ve examined our cultural and religious beliefs about pain, read the Scriptures, and devoured medical information, in an attempt to understand the science behind pain and dependence and why God allows suffering.  I do not have all the answers, but I do know this. 

The presence of pain is not evidence of a lack of faith or unconfessed sin.

It’s presumptuous and unrealistic to expect that we can circumvent the inevitable, as pain most certainly is a part of every life. The lessons taught through times of anguish are deep and have a purpose in molding our character. They provide insight into suffering, faith and the human spirit in a way that can only be understood by those who have “been there”.

Pain altered me permanently. The scars left behind may be invisible to you, but they became my superpower, enabling me to see the scars in others. They instilled a passion for the hurting. They allowed me to draw closer to Jesus.

I wasn’t sure about sharing this post. Not for the reasons you might think. I’m not worried about how you will judge me but I do worry that some of you may feel judged. If you are in a battle with chronic pain, drug dependence or even addiction, I pray you hear my heart. Nobody understands your pain. Even me.

Your journey is unique and solitary and only God sees the depths of your suffering.

The turning point was when I decided I would rather live in pain than numb all my feelings and emotions with chemicals. I enrolled in a pain management program managed by healthcare professionals and slowly regained my life as I weaned off the medications and dealt with my pain – body, mind and spirit. Incredibly, the pain decreased significantly once I was off the meds.

Today I am opioid free. I am not pain free, but I have the tools to manage the pain for now.

Think about these sobering statistics.

“In 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids, which is more than enough to give every American adult their own bottle of pills.”

The United States is experiencing an epidemic of drug overdose (poisoning) deaths. Since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdoses has increased 137%, including a 200% increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (opioid pain relievers and heroin).

I shudder when I think of the fate that could have been mine, and really don’t know how I avoided addiction, but thank God that I did. If you, or someone you love, is struggling with pain, dependence or addiction, please get help.

Warning!- Do NOT discontinue any meds without medical supervision. Stopping medication abruptly may not only adversely affect your condition, it can be flat out dangerous! Please consult a medical professional first.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18