In another Facebook group I belong to, the administrator asked people to describe the first word that came to their minds when they thought of their bodies. This is a group of chronic pain sufferers, so I didn’t think the replies would be positive. One word stuck with me, because I can relate to it. Betrayed. Betrayed is how I felt in 2011. I worked my tail off to get in the best shape of my adult life only to injure my hips, and then begin the fall down the rabbit hole of worsening diagnoses seemingly every time I saw a doctor.
Most people suspect that they are not simply a union of cells and a collection of matter. In other words, there is something deeply spiritual about us all that strongly testifies that we were created as more than a body. But when you deal a lot with the medical culture, especially here in the West, you are often treated as if you are only a body that has gone wrong.
Science recognizes no such spirituality and western medicine is firmly rooted in science. It is a good thing that science dictates our medicine. It is a bad thing that medical practice has seemingly absorbed the naturalistic (This word simply means that there is nothing beyond the natural universe) philosophical assumptions of science (which is really more than just science).
When you go to doctor visit after doctor visit, get a new prescription after new prescription, face another surgery, etc., then it is easy to forgot to tend to your emotional, mental, and yes, spiritual needs. And when you have fallen into the trap as viewing yourself as only a body gone wrong, then that is going to damage your self-perception.
When you think of your body betraying you, it is interesting what that admission suggests. Who is the “you” that has been betrayed? If you really thought of yourself as just a body, then a body gone wrong is just that, but there would be no one betrayed, because there would not be a distinction between your body and you!
But your body did betray you. It isn’t working like it should. If you have an autoimmune disease, even better…your body is actively working against you! But the “you” is your perception of self and who you are. You are a union of body, soul, and spirit (Some say just body and spirit, but that debate goes beyond the scope of this post). You have a mind–not just a brain–that is greater than your betraying body.
The body is important. That’s why we do what we can to treat it! But please do not forget that you need to make sure you are getting taken care of spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. Chronic pain, depression, and anxiety are strongly correlated. But many with chronic pain will spend literally weeks and months of their lives with doctors treating the body, but never make it a priority to speak to a counselor. And the sad thing is that more depression and anxiety exacerbate the chronic pain and vice versa.
Many people reading this post, probably have thought about seeing a counselor, but have never done it. You should do it. It might amaze you what a trained expert can see and point out that you have never been able to put together.
Finally, do not assess yourself by the condition of your body. That is only one aspect of who you are. The body like the spirit is in need of redemption, and God has seen to that in the resurrection. But our body-obsessed culture values everyone by what they look like and how well they function. It is a society that has rejected the biblical view of the whole person. It is a lie. Do not believe it for a moment. You are more than just your body!
Spiritually, there are major considerations as well. How does chronic pain adversely effect your relationship with God? Can it be used somehow beneficially in your walk with God? That will be the subject of Part 2…coming soon.