“I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.” (John 14:6).
For a very long time I have experienced some chronic pain in my day-to-day activities. I do not mention this to seek sympathy. After all, the pain was obviously not debilitating enough to preclude me from living a normal life, but there was some discomfort nonetheless.
Please do not think that I am a saintly little martyr who was able to sit quietly with pain. Over a period of eleven years, I consulted with no less than four specialists and surgeons about this pain. All four of them told me that the symptoms that I was describing were normal and could not be explained physically. Though they never said as much, they all four of them implied that my experience of pain was in some way psychological rather than physical.
And so – over a very long period of time – I began to shut up a little bit about that pain. I still complained – I am a bit of a whinger after all – but mostly, I just berated myself internally, reprimanding myself for my weakness and seeming inability to get my life in order.
But then – over time – things got worse. You see, my children are older. And – believe it or not – older children take more out of their parents than younger ones, in my opinion. Older children cannot be buckled into a stroller or car seat and dragged around in your arms or on your back to wherever you need them to go. Older children are strong and determined big-little human beings who know exactly what they wish to do and who require explanations and negotiations. Frankly, children who are older require every ounce of their parents’ wits to ensure that they are steered in the right direction and do not stray from the path...
And so, at last, thought I would try one last doctor one last time… Well – this last doctor found the problem – she sure did. And though it is not a life-threatening problem – thank God – it is a life changing one. In some ways, my life will be better now, and in others it will be worse.
I can accept both outcomes of this diagnosis... That is GRACE. However, through God’s Grace, I have been thinking about this experience of pain…
You see, when I was told that my physical pain was only psychological pain, I discarded it and moved through and around it – with greater psychological pain than physical pain. After all, it is a very unhealthy thing to berate your natural response to physical pain over which you have no control.
Now, reality has shifted. When I was told that my physical pain was in fact physical and not a product of my own imagination – I cried a million tears in front of that doctor who was a stranger to me. And my tears were not tears of grief, they were tears of happiness – because I knew that with the truth there was at last HOPE.
There is not a lot of difference between this undiagnosed pain and the experience of sin. So much within our society tells us that sin is not sin. Sometimes, as I flick through the newspaper or magazines or social media, it seems as though I have woken up on “opposite day”, where right is wrong and wrong is right. So much in the world tells us that it is okay to sin.
Times have changed. Once – many years ago now – I contacted my local parish church regarding the children’s sacramental program and was told by the sacramental coordinator that “Sin is not like it used to be. Sin has changed since Jesus lived.”
It seems to me that such well-meaning – though clearly misguided – understandings of sin are pretty much the same as my recent experience of pain… The truth is misconstrued – exacerbating an already precarious situation – and it changes the perception of that experience.
Saint John Bosco said, “The usual snare with which the devil catches the young is to fill them with shame when they are about to confess their sins. When he pushes them to commit sins, he removes all shame, as if there were nothing wrong with it, but when they are going to confession, he returns that shame magnified and tries to convince them that the priest will be shocked by their sins and will no longer think well of them. Thus, the devil tries to drive souls to the brink of eternal damnation. Oh, how many lads does Satan steal from God – sometimes forever – by this trick.”
For it is only in the realisation of the truth that there can ever be change for the GOOD.
No wonder Christ said, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.” (John 14:6).
For there is HOPE in all pain if we can know the truth!
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.