Originally posted in 2012.
Eleven years ago, I began a kind of terribly, horribly, awfully wonderful dance.
It has twirled me and swirled me and tossed me firmly into the arms of Jesus.
Over and over and over again.
Even amid my whole chronic illness messy, I rarely speak of it. In many ways, as in so many things, the dance whispers more clearly in the movement and the music. It seems to pour out the passionate tango between my angry self-focus and my need to hear Jesus more readily than if I sang it out loud.
But it is also there, in that tangled twist, that I promised myself I would never allow the dance to define me or consume me or identify me. I promised out of the need to avoid being that girl, the one who everyone tiptoes around because she is sick. I promised to bring joy into a room rather than to drain it of its strength (because, quite frankly, ain’t nobody got time for that.)
Now some days, I’ve lived within that promise, other days I’ve failed. That, dear ones, is just part of the deal, part of dance, part of the way back Home.
But today, I am going to break my tight-lipped grasp and say the words…
Chronic physical pain.
Not for a season or a temporary moment.
But every blessed day.
Now I could write a sonnet that sings of how chronic pain sucks. Or how it takes a pleasant person and turns her into Cruella De-give-me-some-pain-meds. Or how it can jade a day that’s good and transform it into another shade entirely.
But those would be some pretty doggone ridiculous reasons to break my silence. And I suspect it would also take you firmly into the poor-Sara camp. So if you are already there, get the hoot out. That is not our destination.
Instead, I want to wade into the camp of “Holy freaking cow, Jesus loved me that much??!!”
You see, over these last 11 years, I have been able to keep my promises for one reason only: modern medicine.
When I have pain, good ole MM gives me a combination of pills, therapy and treatments that dull it.
Without it, I would not be nearly as kind.
But this weekend, I had a bad stretch. Where none of the combinations worked. Where I was bedridden and crying and did my best tribute to George Costanza with a somewhat eeked out, “ETERNITY NOW!”
I was so take-me-out-of-this-joint, ready to head on Home.
But then something strange happened in the midst of sleepless nights where I did nothing but writhe and wiggle and sniffle…
I grasped it for a moment.
The it is hard to find in our modern medicine, first-world mentality of “I have pain where’s the pill to make it end NOW?” It comes more quickly in our experience of emotional and mental anguish because no one has found a pill to fix that. It is the total weight of humanity placed on the shoulders of a Savior.
We tend to think that the physical pain of Jesus was limited to the experience of crucifixion. We think that as much as He suffered, it was finite, bound in that moment. And yet, when He bore our sin, He bore the weight of its consequence.
Our physical pain. Our emotional burden. Our dance.
Jesus took it.
He danced through every curve, every bend and every rhythm.
Jesus took it.
He danced through all of humanity.
My pain + your pain + the pain of the whole human race.
Holy freaking cow.
Jesus actually loved us that much.
Tears burning, flowing and falling as I write it once more…
Jesus. Loved. Us. That. Much.
Such love explains why in those physically daunting, take-me-home moments, Jesus is the only thing that satisfies.
It is also why people do not.
When we measure our pain against someone who suffers more, we can become riddled with guilt and an unsustainable always-look-on-the-bright-side-of-life attitude. When we measure against someone who suffers less, we tend to sing the merry song of nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen…
But when we curl up at the feet of Jesus, we breathe.
We begin to dance again.
We realize physical pain is not meant to punish but to return us to the foot of the Cross.
A return that carries us back to the haven of a terribly, horribly, awfully wonderful dance, trading stubborn self-focus for the ever-perfect arms of Jesus who quietly whispers in His hold…
“Yes, I really love you THAT much.”