I was never abused. I was never addicted to alcohol or drugs. I never cut myself or had an eating disorder. I never gave my virginity to anyone, nor did I have it stolen from me. I do not have a serious medical condition, learning disability, or mental illness. I always had clothes that fit, nutritious food to eat, a roof over my head and a car to drive. I graduated high school with honors and was accepted to a private 4 year university.
But my pain still counts.
My wounds are real. Their consequences have shaken me to my core, and there have been days when I wondered if I would ever feel happy and normal again.
For many years I stuffed my pain, telling myself that I had a good life and so had no reason to be so, “dramatic”. The truth was, though, that I made my pain small because I was terrified that if I let it out, if I let it come to the surface, it would turn out to be so huge that it would completely overwhelm me and I would never recover.
That was a big, fat lie. I have found healing and freedom in Jesus. He truly does, “Make all things new.” But I was never able to fully experience that reality until I gave him my ashes, no masks and no pretenses.
I want you to hear this because I worry that too many of us see our wounds and believe the lie that they are “normal,” “not that bad,” or, “no big deal”. Your heart is a big deal. It’s okay for you to acknowledge that the scars it carries are every bit as bad as the consequences they’ve had in your life. It is not normal for you to live in quiet despair because, “life is tough”.
Yes, we live in a fallen world. But because Jesus died and rose from the dead, the door to abundant life – here on earth and in the life to come – is wide open to us. No, we’ll not escape pain in this life. Following Jesus is not a get-out-of-suffering-free card. But on the whole, I think we are far less hopeful than we ought to be when it comes to how we view our pain.
I’m not encouraging you to make mountains out of molehills, but I do want you to know that whatever pain you have inside – it counts. And Jesus died for that pain to be redeemed and transformed into a fountain of grace for you and for everyone whose life you touch. Please please please, don’t miss out on the fulness of what He purchased for you with His Blood.
On this Feast of Divine Mercy, know that I will be praying for each of you. When I carry you in my heart at Mass today, I will ask Jesus to give you the courage to look at your pain square in the face, and invite Him into it.