Monday's Musings - Pain With a Purpose

I don't like pain.

Apparently, I wouldn't make a good Marine.

One of their mottos is: "Pain is just weakness leaving the body."

That's where they'd lose me.

More power to them. I appreciate the fact that they train hard to protect our country. Their pain has a purpose. But I couldn't join their ranks. (We won't even go into my age which would prevent me....)

But back to the point.

I don't like pain. But I've learned a lesson because I deal with it regularly.

Take my shoulder for example.

For several months, it hurt. I finally mentioned it to my doctor. She gave me cortisone shots. A couple of times.

It didn't help.

Then, I went to physical therapy. For a few months.

It didn't help.

Then, I went to a chiropractor. For a few months.

It helped other things, but not my shoulder.

I gave up and just figured I had to live with the pain.

A couple of years later, my hubby fell and hurt his shoulder. A month into it, he went to the doctor. She sent him to an orthopedic doctor. He ordered an MRI. My hubby had a torn rotator cuff. They scheduled surgery.

I asked, "What does your pain feel like?"

He described it. The lightbulb went on. I returned to my doctor. I saw an orthopedic doctor who ordered an MRI, and guess what?

Yep. I had a torn rotator cuff. And had lived with it for over 2 years at that point.

Hubby had surgery first. Two months later, so did I.

Then came rehab! It's a long recovery. But worth it when it works.

Unfortunately, my body didn't heal properly. A year ofter surgery, I was back in the doctor's office complaining of the same pain. I had another MRI. I still had a tear......No one's fault. Just bad shoulder genetics. I needed surgery, AGAIN!

This summer, I finally had the more extensive open rotator cuff surgery. I had put it off since January. The pain was just getting too much to ignore and it hampered my day to day living. (And driving our Miata!)

I've now dealt with 4 1/2 years of shoulder pain. My ortho assures me I'll feel great once rehab is over and the pain finally goes away. (He also fixed my bicep tendon which was about to snap. It was causing pain along with the torn rotator cuff.)

I'm choosing to trust him.

So what have I learned about myself and pain in this process?

First of all, I'm not the wimp I assumed I was. I've thought I'm a wimp because I feel pain. Now I know I'm strong because I keep going in spite of it.

Secondly, I learned you just can't ignore some pain. It's there for a reason. To tell you something is wrong. My shoulder didn't get better on it's own. I needed a surgeon.

Thirdly, I've had to trust the doctor that the pain I now feel is okay and that I have to press through it to get strong again. It still hurts like the pain of a torn rotator cuff. Except worse.

So how can I tell the difference?

Well, I had to have someone look inside of my shoulder and find the tear, the cause of my pain.

Only after that could we come up with a plan to deal with it.

After this surgery, you'd think I wouldn't trust my doctor. But I do trust him. He explained why it didn't work the first time and how he went about fixing it completely differently this time.

I push through the pain now. And I'm getting stronger, not weaker.

So how does this apply to life?

We all have pain. Either physical or emotional. We have hurts, sadness, losses.

Pain actually does serve a purpose. We need to be aware of it.

What's behind the pain?

Is it something broken that needs to be fixed?  Like a broken relationship. Unforgiveness.

Or is it a season of pain to make us stronger? Like exercising. Mourning.

How can you tell the difference?

This is where you need a surgeon.
And a heart MRI.

Go to God and ask Him to show you why you're in pain.

I'm in a season of mourning. It hurts. The pain of losing my mom will never go away. But understanding that I can either let it stop me from living or learning to go on and comfort others is a decision I have to make.

I'm learning to trust God to get me through.

God is the great Physician. 

Ask Him for guidance. 

Then listen for His answer. 

The pain you're in may be for the purpose of strengthening you or teaching you to depend on Him.

He'll be there for you.

He has been for me....


  1. Mary, I hope you realize what a terrific writer you are. I needed this today. I just came through a season of pain and God showed me why I was in it-unforgiveness to another person. Thank you so much sweet friend for your honesty and transparency. Love you, sweet friend!

    1. Jamie, thank you for your kind words! I'm really happy this ministered to you. I'm learning about forgiveness - that it's to free us from bondage. Thanks for confirming what God is doing.

      Love you too, Jamie!

  2. Mary, you photograph the soul with your words like you do the world with your camera. You amaze me!

    1. Robin, that is so precious! Thank you. :)

  3. Love it! You are such a inspiring writer, photographer and friend.

    1. Thanks Cindy!! :) You're a great friend too!!