Pain Management or Reality
By Joanne Highley
Published April 2001
As Ron and I fight this lung disease together, we are finding out a lot about pain and what it does to you. The pain involved here is not horrible physical pain, but rather the psychological and emotional pain of seeing the breath and strength diminish, the body waste away, the activity become severely limited. It is the pain of seeing your mate so weakened and helpless – the man whose strong arms had comforted and supported you now needs your arms for most needs. It is the pain of having no answers medically or through alternative care. It is truly being out of control, completely reliant on God, learning in pain to rest in His care. We don’t always feel His presence but we know without a doubt He is there, holding us up, guiding, and providing every detail of our lives in His watchful and loving care. This is by faith, which does not fail and hope that does not disappoint because we know God and love Him. It’s just the pain that keeps hitting us. We wanted to do so many things. We have so much in progress and so many dreams of future projects. But God is with us and He will show us if this is preparation for future ministry or preparation for advancing to glory with Him.
Because of Ron’s need for constant care, I have been home all the time and have been able to see some TV specials I would have never seen because of my counseling. One of those was the story of Judy Garland as written by her daughter, Lorna Luft. Here we saw a grim view of pain management from a very young age, handled by the use of drugs. Whenever this beautifully talented, sweet young woman had distress, fear, or feelings of abandonment, she took drugs, the ones that had been started by the movie studio itself, to quiet those painful feelings. This made for a life of addiction and early death as the drugs that seemed to be her only “friends”, finally became her taskmaster and drove her to unreality and isolation.
Have you noticed how you have tried to manage pain with some addictive substance, activity, or person? When you have that person near or that activity in place, you have your “drug of choice”. That “drug” takes you into unreality, making homosexuality seem like love or friendship or your only “connection” when it is really a trap like Judy Garland fell into.
The only way to break this lie of pain management is to see that pain management is really only a way to try not to feel the pain. Going for the “fix” does not take the pain away but leaves you with more pain because you still have the initial stored pain from childhood you are trying to stop, plus the pain and guilt of the sin used to manage the pain.
So, try to see your attempts at pain management as what they are in reality: a trap to ensnare you in further pain, isolation, and perhaps death. Give up the useless reaching for “connection” with ungodly sexual partners or fantasy/masturbation and go for the true relief of dealing with pain by the only effective method. Go to God and let Him comfort and heal those wounded and inflamed emotions. Tell Him what hurts and allow His reality to break up the lies that have held you in isolation, shame, despair, or anxiety. Sit down and write these feelings instead of using the old “knee-jerk” of pain-fix that you learned so long ago that you don’t even think of any alternative. Would it really be worse to face the feelings instead of anesthetizing them? Or, is that just an unreality established because they have not been faced for so long and now seem unmanageable? This is exactly where God’s grace will be sufficient, as so many have found. With God, you could look at these feelings and begin to be free of their demands. Especially the demands that lead us to do what we know is wrong when we are in our right minds and not under the power of unreality – unreality that tries to make evil good and sin sweet.
It is vital that we see doing things God’s way makes for peace and joy and freedom from guilt and shame. Ultimately, the pain will be uprooted. The power of the old syndrome of pain/anxiety/fix will be replaced by pain/going to God for His viewpoint and truth/relief and uprooting old painful lies and unreality.
This must be done in the atmosphere of God’s love and fellowship with trusted Christian friends and by breaking old relationships that connected us to the sinful fix.
In dealing with reality, we have found that some people have a false view of what reality is. Some people raised in homes where performance and perfectionism was emphasized, think of reality as having to be more and more perfect to “reach reality”. This is a false view because reality is only a matter of seeing life and truth as it really is – not colored by our emotions or lies brought upon us by abuse, rejection, and ridicule. We cannot function well without a true view of reality.
One of our men said he had to move from the unreality of feeling he was a woman, to the false reality that he was a gay man, and finally to the reality that he is a heterosexual man. Check your reality to see if you have a false concept that needs to be corrected. In doing that, you could more easily face reality because it is freeing to live in reality! Unreality is Satan’s territory and brings bondage. God’s reality and truth will set you free.
Surely He bore our grief Himself and carried our sorrows; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4,5)