“God had one Son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering.” St. Augustine
Today, for some reason, I can’t get my friend Jenifer off my mind. Jenifer, like Veronica, also passed away in 2010, in February. It had been almost a year since I had spoken to her when she passed away. You see, Jenifer was riddled with addiction. She was a beautiful, young, loving mother of two children. She suffered anxiety and depression, and she turned to substance abuse to help her cope. Her death came as a shock to me. I will probably never know if it was an accident or on purpose, but I can’t think in my heart that she would have ever purposefully left those children she loved so much if the substance abuse hadn’t taken hold of her.
I have to be honest here. I was angry with Jenifer. She had actually put my children’s lives in danger, unbeknownst to me at the time, but when I found out, that is when I put my foot down. In an effort to protect my children, I ended the relationship and told her to get help. I offered to help her find that help. A little over a year later she was dead. I felt guilty. I had to forgive her and forgive myself for feeling like I didn’t do enough. I pray for her everyday knowing that our loving God is filled with Divine Mercy, especially for those who hurt so much inside.
In reflection, I thought about how we live in a world that tries to stop suffering of any kind at all costs. If we get anxious or depressed we pop a pill, or drink a drink. We have a pharmaceutical industry that makes millions off of pills for our pain. Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating that a person that needs help should not take a doctor’s prescription medication, especially if you have a diagnosed condition. I personally have taken it myself and it greatly helped me in the past with my postpartum anxiety and depression. I think counseling helps too. But I am saying, maybe we shouldn’t try so hard to not feel our feelings. Sometimes maybe, we should walk through those feelings. If we get stuck in them, we need to get help. But why is it so bad to feel? Why do we try to numb the pain so much? I think when we push all of those feelings away, that is when panic attacks or anxiety or depression can really take over. And then the roller coaster of numbing it all takes place. We numb and the feelings bubble up with physical symptoms.
I just think we should recognize the feeling and embrace it. Once in a while we need a good cry especially if we are grieving. If we are afraid and have worry and panic, what is it really that we are afraid of? In my own life, I boiled my fear and anxiety down to a fear of dying. That was it, the underlying fear in all of my worry was a fear of death, or death of someone I loved. I now know for certain there is hope on the other side of death. Jesus tells us to not be afraid. Once I addressed this fear, it wasn’t so frightening anymore. God showed me the beauty of this Life so imagine what the beauty of the next will be like. I also know the anxiety can be from past experiences or from childhood, or from any litany of things. I asked Jesus to place his cross between me and the events that caused my anxiety. The Cross broke the chains of our sin. The Cross can break the chains of anything. The Cross is true freedom because the Cross is built out of True Love. I visually pictured the Cross of Christ in between me and the event that caused me pain. If in your life someone or something has caused you pain, visualize the Cross of Christ in between you and the person, or the event. Then lay that pain right there. Right at Jesus’ feet, He can handle it.
We all know Jesus took on humanity, which means, he took on those feelings. He suffered pain and agony for us. Hebrews 2:14-15 tells us, “Now since the children share in blood and flesh, he likewise shared in them, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who through fear of death had been subject to slavery all their life.”
Think about that for a minute. The verse talks about being freed from slavery and that we are enslaved because of fear of death. This means Christ can break the slavery of sin, and of anything that brings death to your life. Anxiety was a sort of death for me. It kept me from living life the way I wanted. It literally, in my opinion, caused the death of my friend, who had become a slave to addiction because of anxiety.
If we allow ourselves to feel the pain, how much more joyous will our lives be when the pain passes and the joy comes. Allow yourself to feel the pain, but know in your heart the hope. I think trying to fight or bury the pain will bring it at you with a vengeance. Feeling the pain, embracing it, and letting it go, giving it to Jesus, that will bring you joy.
Remember, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” Romans 15:13