Secondary Gain, Part 1

This post is originally from September 2010. . .

There’s a hidden danger in chronic issues that we face.  Whether it is physical pain, or relational dysfunction.  We adapt.  And that’s good in many ways.  But then we also start to seek compensation for our crippled state.

I used to be a type-A doer.  Energizer bunny.  Until my thyroid took me down.  My perspective on my value and worth took a major hit when fatigue would literally leave me flat on the couch unable to do much of anything to maintain my house, or care for my kids.  Thankfully I wasn’t working a job outside the home and a clean house is not as important to my husband as it is to me.  I struggled for months with medication changes and energy issues. . . and learned to adapt. To be okay with reading a book instead of vacuuming the house (which also made me sick due to other issues).  It eventually became kind of nice to not carry the responsibility for the world on my shoulders.  Not that anyone else picked up the slack, mind you.  Although I have to admit that God’s done a pretty decent job in most areas – I’ve found He doesn’t do dishes or pick up duplos.

I’ve slowly been recovering.  That means I need to get off what could now be determined as a lazy butt – and do the work I need to do.  I’d rather read a book – or work on writing one.  See how I’ve adapted?  I could claim fatigue – and sometimes that’s real.  I need to be careful about budgeting my energy which is hard because if I do get a burst – I clean as much as I can– and then pay for it for days afterwards with pain and fatigue.  Secondary gain would say – avoid that and simply enjoy a good novel.  While I’m at it I can be a victim of my spouse who’s financial abuse denies me some of the care that could possibly make it better.  I’ve come so close to resolving this only to have the financial rug pulled out from underneath me time and time again. So really, I’m a victim.  So I’ll just sit back and relax and curl up with another story.

So many times we pray for healing.  There is a story in Scripture where Jesus asked the guy, “Do you really want to be healed?” (John 5:6). The man lying by the pool for so long, waiting for the angel to stir the waters so he could get in, had in many ways given up.  It was a great question for Jesus to ask.  Do I want to be healed?  What would it mean if my thyroid really returned to full functioning and my back pain were resolved?  Hmmm, I would feel better, enjoy walking and bike riding and other physical activities, and be able to do more and be a better servant of my King.  Good things.  However,  I would also be able to clean the house more, and might be required to engage in more physical work that currently at this time threatens me with disability. I might not be as available to read or write.  I wouldn’t be able to moan and groan and garner the limited sympathy available for chronic health issues.  I wouldn’t be able to use my thyroid as an excuse for my weight either.

See how secondary gain can keep me from fully embracing the abundant life Jesus offers? Even without healing it can hold me back from pursuing God’s best for me.  Secondary Gain – it’s complicated emotional issue –and to overcome it we need to take a brutal self-inventory.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Jannelle
    Sep 18, 2010 @ 12:05:38

    I can relate. Thanks for sharing “the good, the bad, and the ugly” struggles.


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