Over the years, as I have met more and more people with chronic pain, I have learned that people with broken bodies also have broken hearts. Many people who have chronic pain have had some form of abuse in their past, whether it be physical, sexual, or emotional. This kind of pain runs deep and begins to shape who we are. It causes us to feel broken, less than, not good enough. Without someone to intervene and help reshape this broken self-concept, self-hate will result. This self-hate is reinforced once the physical issues and inabilities begin to emerge, because we begin to loathe our bodies and ourselves for what we cannot do. We feel we are not good enough employees, parents, friends, people.
Unfortunately, when we begin to struggle with physical inabilities due to illness or pain, some people reinforce that we are, indeed, not good enough because we cannot do what they expect of us or what we used to be able to do. We are called lazy or made to feel we are not doing enough. Sometimes these relationships don’t have the stamina to hold up under the stress of unmet expectations, and rejection ends the relationship completely. This happens often with marriages and family relationships that have experienced tragedies like chronic illness, and the brokenness continues.
When Jesus was on earth, He experienced the sting of rejection from family members and friends. Many who were closest to Him did not believe he was the Messiah sent from God (Mark 6: 1-6, Matthew 17:22-23). He experienced rejection in the ultimate form of death at the hands of the people who did not believe or accept Him as the Son of God (Matthew 27). He experienced the devastation of His own Father God turning away from Him because of the sins He bore on the cross as they were transferred from us to Him (Matthew 27:45-46). God is perfect and could not look at the blackness of the sin Jesus bore for us. Certainly, this was the ultimate rejection.
God wants to end this cycle of brokenness in our hearts and lives, and that is the very reason that Jesus came to earth and died on the cross—so that our inadequacies, wrongdoings, and brokenness would be put on Jesus while He was on the cross so that we would not have to be separated from God eternally after our physical deaths (Romans 3:21-24). God says that this was why Jesus came to earth.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believed in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16, KJV)
When we believe in that truth and accept His death on the cross as payment for our sins and ask Him to be our Savior, the brokenness ends (Romans 6:23). The Bible says we are given new life, a new start (Ezekiel 36:26, Romans 6:3-4). The Bible says that we are clean, washed whiter than snow, and we are given new clothes called “robes of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10). Our sins are separated from us “as far as the east is from the west,” according to Psalms 103:12.
God says that this is a gift that is given to us when we believe in Him. It is not something we can earn, so we don’t even have to try (Ephesians 2: 8-9). Our inadequacies may still be evident physically, but inside we are changed. One day these physical bodies will be made immortal, and sickness and death will be long gone (Revelation 21:3-5). It is a day I long for.
These truths are never going to change once we believe in Jesus, but our behavior and habits don’t always follow suit as quickly as we would like. Inside, we may still have the drive to try to be perfect, to be good enough so others will love us, to hurt ourselves in self-destructive behavior, to obsess over things that remind us of the old feelings of unworthiness. But as we begin to apply these truths and our thinking is renewed in our minds, these tendencies can and will fall away (Romans 12:2).
Before I started applying these truths, I used to obsess over the cleanliness of my house. I would constantly look at the floor and bend over numerous times each day to pick up tiny pieces of lint, dirt, or whatever I could find that didn’t belong. But as I started to repeat an affirmation based on these Scriptural truths, that innate need to have the floor perfectly clean literally fell away, and I stopped this habit within days. Every time I felt the need to pick something up off the floor, I would repeat something like this: “I am fully loved, completely forgiven, one hundred percent accepted by God” (Romans 8:1). And for the first time ever, I was free from that obsessive tendency to make everything clean around me.
I began to remind myself often that I was loved by God and accepted by Him. It no longer mattered if others did not accept me because I began to accept myself the way I was. If God loved me, then I could also love myself. Who was I to contradict God? I wish I could say that my life since then has been perfect, but as long as we live on this imperfect earth and in these imperfect bodies, we will never be fully free of the struggle. But the brokenness in our hearts does not have to continue. We are loved! You are loved!
When you feel the pull and struggle of those same fears and frustrating habits, do some of these things:
- Repeat a mantra similar to this: “I am fully loved, completely forgiven, one hundred percent accepted by God, so I can accept myself.”
- When you feel the sting of hurtful words or rejection from friends or family members, repeat the above mantra. Say it every time you feel the hurt inside. Eventually, the hurt won’t be quite as deep and it won’t last quite as long.
- Write out Bible verses about God’s love and review them daily. Post them all over the house, in the car, and everywhere you normally go so you can be reminded of them often.
“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, NIV)
“But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.” (Psalm 13:5, NIV)
“Praise be to the Lord, for He showed His wonderful love to me.” (Psalm 31:21, NIV)
“By day the Lord directs His love, at night His song is with me.” (Psalm 42:8, NIV)
“Nor height, nor death, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39, NIV)
“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23: 6, NIV)
“And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us. “ (Romans 5:5, NIV)
- Download songs about God’s love and listen to them often. Here are a few of my favorites.
“Flawless” by MercyMe
“Beauty In The Broken” by Hyland
“There Will Be A Day” by Jeremy Camp
“Your Grace Is Enough” by Matt Maher
“I Am Not Alone” by Kari Jobe
“That Was Then, This Is Now” by Josh Wilson
“Remind Me Who I Am” by Jason Gray
“What Scars Are For” by Mandisa
“Free To Be Brave” by Bethel Music
- When you are frustrated with your own inabilities, remind yourself often that you are only human, you are not perfect, and you can accept yourself because God has declared you acceptable. Repeat your mantra often.
- Begin to appreciate your good qualities and characteristics instead of always dwelling on the negative. Start to talk to yourself positively, even praising yourself for the positive things you notice. This is not a prideful act, but an act of reinforcement and self-appreciation that will heal wounds of rejection and self-hate.
- Talk out your feelings of hurt and self-hate with a trusted friend or counselor—someone who can help you see your positive characteristics and help you begin to appreciate yourself more. This person should be someone objective who can help you identify behaviors that have caused you hurt that you may not have noticed.
- When you are feeling particularly badly about yourself, read over the Bible verses referenced above about what Jesus has done for you and has declared true about you. Memorize these verses as you fall asleep at night.
- Don’t allow others to continue hurting you, either physically or emotionally. If you need to, discontinue relationships that are continually causing you hurt. Stand up for yourself when you are being criticized. You might say something like, “You may be right, but God has declared me worthy of love, and that is good enough for me.” If you can’t bring yourself to say those words aloud, say them mentally to yourself.
As you do these things over and again, your self-concept will change. You will begin to accept and feel that you are loved by God in spite of your inadequacies and failures. You will begin to appreciate your positive characteristics and forgive the negative. As this happens, you will find yourself more able to both receive from and give love to others who are also not perfect (because we all are imperfect). You will find a freedom in your spirit that will give you the courage to follow your dreams and attempt what you never before would have attempted to do. Like the butterfly, you will develop wings that only come from the hard transition from small and incapable to beautiful and unstoppable. Then, you will be able to give this gift to others as well.
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Hi! My Name is Laurie, and I am a wife, mom, nurse, and patient living with fibromyalgia. I understand first-hand what life is like with chronic pain and illness. My passion is to help provide others with the spiritual encouragement and resources that I so desperately needed when I was first diagnosed. Please join us on the blog and Facebook page for regular encouragement and hope. Welcome!