ASKING MOMS: HOW DO YOU MOTHER WITH CHRONIC PAIN OR LONGTERM ILLNESS?

January 11, 2022

This post is part of a new “ASKING MOMS” series. I love hearing from other mothers who propel or inspire me. From time to time, we’ll write about a specific topic and one mother’s approach to it with her family. I love interviews so much and I’m sure hearing from these women will be fascinating! When working on the concept, I felt like more and more subjects kept coming. Please write to me if you have an idea for a topic or someone you’d like to be interviewed!

Today’s interview is Jenny, mother of four, and grandmother of three.

And our topic is motherhood with chronic pain or longterm illness.

How do you find strength to serve when you are in pain?

One phrase that really helped me day to day, when the kids were young and pain was high was, “just do the next thing.” Don’t get stressed about all you haven’t gotten to. Just do the next thing! Also, I pray for strength and grace for each new day! Being content also gives me strength. If I let myself compare my situation with other moms who don’t struggle with pain, then I am robbed of my joy! Comparison steals joy! And the joy of the LORD is my strength!

For our frame of reference, can you tell us a little about what your personal physical limitations are?

I have always struggled with back pain. It probably stems from me being the bottom girl in the human pyramid for cheerleading in high school! Things came to a head after the birth of our fourth child. Somehow I ended up with disc material lodged in my spinal column. This resulted in my need for back surgery. After successful surgery, I was put on a three month bed rest. I had four children, eight years old and younger, with my youngest being six months old. I had days filled with pain. This led to physical restrictions for me. I struggled with sciatic nerve pain each day! It was brutal. I started seeing a chiropracter ten years ago and things have slowly gotten better for me. I am still not able to lift heavy things. And I struggle to sit on the floor. But things are MUCH better.  There are a lot of basic things I don’t do anymore. Simply because I know I will pay for it later in back pain.

What do you prioritize most with your husband and children even when you feel bad?

Relationships are my priority!  I have learned to maintain a good relationship with my husband and kids even when I am in pain. Good, rich conversations are key to helping them know I am “ok” even though I am in pain. I lay out on the couch or I stand in the kitchen and try to be a part of their day. Also, making sure my family has a good meal to eat and clean clothes are right up there in importance.

What perspectives help you with the frustration of your desire to work being stronger than your physical ability?

God is sovereign over my physical limitations. God has allowed this physical weakness for a reason. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. This keeps me very reliant on God and keeps me humble.

What are some of your practical tips?

Lay down during your children’s rest times. Train your children to be able to play on their own. You must have a well run ship for things to function well when you are out of commission. Set up good boundaries for your kids. Avoid the temptation to stick your children in front of a screen when you are in pain. And also avoid escaping into the internet yourself when things are rough. Listen to books on tape together. Listen to Adventure in Odyssey or Lamplighter stories together. Try to be with your children as much as possible. But also train your kids to work and function on their own when possible. We instilled in them the mindset of “Team Gallo.” We are in this together and we need to help each other through it! Cook simply. Make food that has lots of leftovers, like soup! Promote kids helping in the kitchen. Remember that God is using your pain or limitation in your children’s lives also. It can be a tool for growth in your kids and a way of instilling compassion for others. Serving and working hard are wonderful gifts for you to give your kids.

How do you make decisions about pushing yourself versus not making things worse by overexerting?

My husband is my main help in this area. He knows me the best and knows if I should push myself. He is a wonderful encouragement to me. I am so thankful for a wise husband that helps me make decisions about how I serve and use my gifts in the body of Christ. Sometimes I can’t serve others, only my family. It does give me great joy to serve though. Knowing my limitations is crucial. I always prioritize my family; they come first. I have made mistakes in this area before and learned the hard way that I shouldn’t overdo to the point where I can’t be a good wife and mother. I would recommend serving in simple ways, like praying for others, making easy meals for new moms, listening to others in need of a friend. And in the end, if God wants me to serve others, God will give me the strength to do it, moment by moment.  Now when my grandkids are involved, I always push myself! One other comment, if it is for others and my pride is involved, then I try not to push myself. Because I know my motive is pride and that is never a good motive!

Are there any sermons, articles, songs, books, or specific scripture that are an encouragement to you in this suffering?

Scripture, scripture! It is key! Philippians 4:6-7, Psalm 73:26, Psalm 121:1-8. Also hymns of faith, Christian music, listening to scripture audio, and reading stories of heroic missionaries risking all for the gospel! Some great ones are Green Leaf in Drought by Isobel Kuhn, In God’s Underground by Richard Wurmbrand, The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael by Elisabeth Elliot, Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot, Peace Child by Don Richardson, and Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose, just to name a few.

I loved reading Jenny’s inspiring, beautiful thoughts and many points were jewels of wisdom for even those without longterm physical afflictions! Thank you Jenny.

Here is further reading on how to actually do some art with childrendoing a good job bringing a sympathy meal, and how to dress as a homemaker everyday

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  • Rachel

    Love this interview. I do not have chronic illness, but the idea of just doing the next thing – wow. That just resonates so much as the mom of a busy toddler.

    • Rachel Schultz

      definitely! lots to apply to any mom!

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