Phantom Pain

Phantom Pain

Pain, pain, pain…  Pain whether its emotional or physical always seems to somehow leave itself engraved deep in our soul.  A fragmented relationship or a broken arm, the experience never leaves us.  Sometimes the injury is so intense it may take months or even years to regain normalcy. People who get into major car accidents can be hospitalized for months only to be released into an even more time consuming season of rehabilitation.  This kind of pain can scar the soul.

Sometimes after an injury is healed the brain hasn’t gotten the memo and continues to send pain receptors to the previously injured body part.  If it’s an ankle that was severely injured you may find that putting full weight on it causes great fear and you may accept walking with a slight limp just to guard it from the potential of further damage.  Oh yes, trauma alters the mind and soul.

I had a similar experience once.  I’d had knee surgery and was going in for my follow-up visit.  I was on crutches and was eager to get a knee brace and move to the next phase of healing.  I was informed everything was fine and that a knee brace was not an option because having a brace would cause me to rely on the brace and hinder my knees’ ability to recover. I remember looking at the doctor and challenging his decision.  I remember saying, “Can’t you see that I need this…maybe just for a little while”, but he simply refused and sent me on my way. It took quite some time for me to get use to the idea of not having the support of a brace and for me to trust that my knee was strong enough for this next phase of healing.  There were times when I would remember the injury and the pain associated with it and would become fearful of ever obtaining full recovery.  The injury was so intense that even though I was on the road to recovery I daily feared my knee’s strength and ability to recover.

This is how emotional issues can scar us as well.  The pain of the incident can linger well past its initial occurrence and slow down your healing and recovery process.  We can somehow become frozen in fear of reoccurrence (reinjuring) that we stunt or healing.  This is when I find the enemy likes to come in and reaffirm our precautions and fears. He will whisper agreements into your ear. “You really hurt yourself.”  “You need more time.”  “The doctor doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”  “This is your life so heal at your pace.”  Oh yes all of this sound like legitimate reasoning.  The only problem is you have gone way past your window of time for healing and now your fear and apprehension have caused you to be delayed.  Oh the devil loves that.  All he needs is your agreement to set things into motion.  He will continue to use his tactics and before you know it, it has become a stronghold in your life.

I like to call it phantom pain. Phantom:  an appearance or illusion without material substance, as a dream image, mirage, or optical illusion, nonexistent.   It’s like when a person has a limb amputated. Once the limb is amputated patients have what is called phantom pains.  The brain sends signals of pain to a limb that is no longer attached.  So not only is the person feeling the pain from the amputation but also long after it is healed they will continue to have pain in a limb that no longer exist.   Although the pain is real the source of the pain is no longer there.  It’s simply an illusion.

Recently I have come out of serious emotional trauma.  I found myself better than I was but I also found myself feeling lots of effects from a season I was no longer in.  At first I couldn’t figure it out.  I was sad, frustrated, and angry, you name it; it was me.  I recall even saying to a close friend, “ Why is it taking me so long to come out of this?”  I was frustrated and would vomit my frustrations regularly.  And then one day I realized my soul was so sick that I didn’t even want to pray.  I felt totally defeated with no hope of ever making a full recovery.  All motivation was sucked out of me like a powerful vacuum. This friend didn’t judge me but knew the difficulty of the season.  She listened and did not go into panic mode or give me a 20-minute sermon on how I was falling short and what my next step should be.  She simply said, “I understand, I will be taking you into prayer today.”  I replied “Thanks!”; with not much expectation.  She called later that day and simply said, “Sometimes we can worship our way through or pray our way out but there are other times the only way of escape is the word of God.”  “And if you are too weak and tired to read then I will read it over you.”  That display of love pierced through the darkness and God gave me the revelation that I was experiencing phantom pains.

Yes, the pain of the past was very intense but I was no longer in the past.  I was in the present and I was living in a hidden fear that I had lived my best days and it was downhill from there.  I was so focused on the pain of the past that I could not focus on the goodness of God during the pain.  I realized that somewhere the enemy had been whispering in my ear reminding me of the pain and I had fallen into agreement with this lie.  And once you go into agreement with the enemy he will have a hay-day with you and he was doing just that to me.

Yes, if someone’s leg has been amputated they will experience a horrific trauma that will shift the very existence of who they are. But maybe that’s it.  God, in the spirit, was amputating some appendages that no longer had any use.  So perhaps what I thought was the pain of amputation was actually pruning or maybe it was spiritual amputation.  Either way, He was removing a part of me that was going to take me far away from Him and His purpose in my life. He kept things hidden from me until I was far removed so I could comprehend the process properly. So I’ve learned the worst thing that happened to me was the best thing that happened to me because it stripped me of me!  It stripped away everything that would exalt itself above the knowledge of God. (2 Corinthians 10:5)  It stripped me, humbled me and taught me great compassion for others.  And yes, my friend, it was very painful.  As I said in my previous blog, “ It was like walking on hot coals dying a thousand deaths daily.

It was very painful because was dying…. anytime is more important than He there needs to be a death.  Before this process I thought I was pretty balanced but the process uncovered my weaknesses. It uncovered the areas in me that were self-glorying and prideful.  It uncovered me and left me raw and naked before the King.   I would imagine that this is not the end.  Perhaps this is the end of a season but I have a feeling that flesh will always try to usurp itself against God and that there are always hidden things in me that need to be exposed and transformed into the image of Christ..  So this season has taught me to trust the one that loves me enough to walk with me in the wilderness and never leave my side. The one whose love is not just bells and whistles, blessings and favor but whose love is also pruning and discipline, deliverance and healing.  In every season of my life I have come to learn, He loves me!

Author:  Petrina Milan

Facebook:  @eyesofanovercomer

Instagram:  bornblessed2

Twitter:  @petrina_milan

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