Wednesday, May 5, 2010

True and Honest Thoughts

Today I am happy to give the "floor" of my blog, to my aerobics instructor, Linda Haught. Since January, I have been a member of her class on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays; and from her, I have learned a great deal about the value of movement and exercise. What I was more thrilled to find myself informed of recently, was her testimony of relief from years of chronic pain.

Why was this testimony so relevant to me? Well, as you read, if you have followed my blog at all, you will probably draw your own correlations and conclusions; however, I feel that Linda and I have much in common regarding the God-given discoveries and attitudes that have given us both freedom--Linda from chronic pain, and me from failure, negativity, and health problems related to obesity.

In order not to steal Linda's thunder, I will refrain from further comment, until my next blog. You can check out Linda's website at And without further ado, Linda's testimony (used by permission).

"Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" While I prefer to apply this verse to the human race in general, it also applies specifically to my own heart. I think I'm trusting God when I'm really not. There's sin in my heart that I don't even know is there, and God is constantly inspecting me, dealing with that sin through trials He brings into my life.

A number of years ago I was in constant back pain for a period of three years. I was referred to various doctors who told me I had congenital disk disease, herniated disks, osteoarthritis, stenosis, schlerosis, and pinched nerves. It was difficult to sleep at night and to sit through church. I had lost the ability to relax.

So I prayed for wisdom and asked the Lord to help me. After 3 years, with seemingly no answer to prayer and things just getting worse, I felt pretty desperate. My physical problem had become a spiritual problem as well. I told the Lord that I just didn't think I could take anymore and that at least one of three things had to happen. One was that he would show me how this trial could bring about any good or glorify God. Two was that he would give me relief, and three was that he would take me on home.

At the very moment I prayed that prayer God directed my eyes to a book I was walking past in a drugstore. It was a book about how chronic pain was being treated at New York University School of Medicine. The orthopedic doctors there treated pain by convincing patients that the structural abnormalities they saw on their MRIs weren't the real cause of their pain. They were just coincidental. In fact, more recently a leading orthopedic surgeon interview by Newsweek said that two people can have the exact same MRI, and one will be in excruciating pain while the other is waltzing through life like Fred Astaire.
A growing contingent of doctors and researchers are now telling us that chronic pain should be blamed on chemical messages originating with our emotions. Primarily it is caused by the view that our circumstances are unfortunate and that we are the victim of those circumstances. It involves dissatisfaction that we don't even know we have.

Nevertheless, this emotional state causes chemical messages to be sent to the brain. The brain then sends a message to the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which is responsible for circulation. The ANS picks a deteriorated or overused place in the body and impedes circulation there just enough to set up a chemical imbalance in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This chemical imbalance is the cause of chronic pain where no pathology, cancer, or immediate injury is involved.

I knew that this was the truth. I had already tried cortisone shots, pain medication, antidepressants, physical therapy, and a nerve block. Doctors at Lenox Hill hospital in NYC say that certain assumptions about life perpetuate chronic pain. It is most common in people who are achievement-oriented and highly conscientious and want desperately to control circumstances so that everything turns out right, (which of course is God's job).

David prayed, "Search me, Oh God, and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me." The Hebrew word for "wicked [or offensive] way" means "idol," but it also refers to "a way of pain."

A study presented in the proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences looked at subjects' brains under an MRI while applying identical pain stimuli. Pain signals in all subjects went to the hypothalamus in the same way. However, the brain's interpretation varied widely among the subjects. Some felt a mild sensation while others felt intense pain. The researchers attributed this to emotional climate and suggested that people should consider nonmedical treatment for pain.

In fact Consumer Reports on Health pointed out that MRIs are dangerous because surgeons end up fixing things that aren't really responsible for pain and will only cause the spinal column to wear out faster.

I never would have believed that the cause of my pain was emotional until I had exhausted all medical options. For three years I shopped from doctor to doctor insisting on a medical solution. God chose not to simply zap the pain but to show me the cause.

The truth is that habitual thought patterns over time program our brain and emotions, influencing how we feel physically. The brain is always thinking, even when we aren't paying attention to our thoughts. When a mind with a sinful nature flies on auto pilot, it gravitates to unbiblical and unprofitable thought. God tells us to manage our thinking and to take charge of our thoughts. The best thing we can do to promote our own life-long stability is to marinate our hearts with scripture.

My spinal column is far worse today, and I've lost an inch and a half because I have no disks left. But I am in no pain, nor do I avoid any physical activity because I'm afraid of pain. And I'm not the only one who has found relief. After writing a book detailing how I got out of pain and the scriptural basis for this treatment, I received letters, phone calls, and emails from others who used the same processes and no longer have migraines, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel, heel pain, and other chronic pain syndromes.

Sometimes I ask them, "What helped you most?" And they always mention two things: constantly talking out loud, addressing their own brain, and meditating over and over on those things that are true about the cause of their pain.

Proverbs 13 tells us that "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick." Scientists tell us that a sick heart or prolonged feelings of hopelessness lower levels of endorphins and serotonin in the body. These are chemicals that maintain emotional balance and prevent life from being painful. Man's prescription is often prozac or paxil--serotonin enhancers.

Proverbs 14:30 says, "A sound heart is the life of the flesh." It means that a tranquil heart is life and health to the body. "Godliness with contentment is great gain."


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