Lent: from darkness, through death and into resurrected life.
It’s a common theme that takes many forms, a metaphor for the Christian life as well as a metaphor for many of us who’ve lived through brokenness and now walk the path of healing.
Via Dolorosa, the way of suffering. Literally, the path that Jesus walked through Jerusalem from his condemnation to the place of his execution. We all walk the path of suffering during seasons of life. They are difficult steps to take. We’ve all worn these shoes at one time or another. And sometimes we tend to think that our own brand of suffering is worse than everyone elses. But it’s not.
I have fibromyalgia, which means I have pain, almost daily. Research suggests that people with fibro experience pain differently, such that what feels like intense pain to me would more than likely go unnoticed to you. If I could magically hand my pain over to someone else for a moment, that person would probably want to know what all the fuss is about because, for him, there would be no pain. For this reason, many people, many medical professionals, deny the reality of fibromyalgia. I’ve dealt with doctors in the past who denied my pain, who told me that I didn’t hurt, as I sat there looking at them in tears from the pain of physical examination. I don’t care if you don’t understand my pain, or don’t believe I have pain. But please don’t tell me that I’m not feeling what I feel, because you, whoever you are, have no idea how I feel. You are not me.
Fibromyalgia has a red-headed stepchild called depression. Think about it. If you hurt all the time, you might possibly become depressed. It’s also possible that a person can be susceptible to depression and, as a result of the effects of depression, have pain. You want to know something? It doesn’t really matter which one came first, the depression or the chronic pain, when you’re living with both. However, it does matter which comes first if you are trying to prove disability to a judge. Depression is considered to be more disabilitating than chronic pain.
This is fascinating to me for the simple reason that our society tends to take a dim view of mental illness. Look at medical insurance coverage for mental illness compared to physical illness and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Try telling someone that you have a mental illness, like depression, and watch the reaction. There’s a stigma around mental illness that is unmistakable. It’s OK to take medication for pain if you need it, but anti-depressants? Aren’t they “mood enhancing” or “mood altering” drugs?? Sounds like LSD, doesn’t it?
Why am I ranting about this? Because it’s Lent. It’s time to take some of the stones off my back and lay them by the side of the road, build an Ebeneezer from them and make room to pick up some pebbles that are easier to carry.
I’m playing the piano again Sunday, a piece entitled, you guessed it, Via Dolorosa. My daddy loved this particular piece and I don’t believe he ever heard me play it before, but there’s a first time for everything and I know he’ll be listening.
And I’ll still be walking my path.