An incident Friday and sharing with a person interested in the creative arts as a part of worship has set my thoughts on a certain path today. Instead of denying it or hiding it, I am going to go with it and share on here.
Here is the post I put on FB yesterday. The heart cry in it is not for me but for all of those like me who have felt chastised instead of supported by people of faith along the way.
“Okay, so I have been dealing with some anxiety lately that is slipping down toward depression. I am working on my job, writing, laughing with friends on here, doing all the things I know from past bouts will help me move forward. The weight of physical symptoms inside don’t seem to listen to all my positive vibes I am trying to surround that place of hurting with and there are days it is beginning to affect my ability to go to work even though I am fine in the class with the kids.
You don’t really trust your physical feelings at times like this so the smart thing to do is go to a doctor. Only when I mention the anxiety to the doctor I see because my own in out of town she asks me questions about my stressors and relationships …. all well and good, but when I begin to tell her the symptoms that I am experiencing, she stops me to give me a lecture on how I would just have the proper “attitude of gratitude” and praise God instead of focusing on what is getting me down I would have all the proper chemicals kicking around in my system and everything would be hunky dorie. Not her exact words but that was the gest of what she had to say.
Thankfully my past experiences have taught me about the laments and the reality that sometimes the end of a cry to God and an acknowledgement of why we can trust God in times like this is not instant praise but the knowledge that praise will come. I told her that and she backed down some.
She asked me what I needed from her. I did not feel safe in telling her any more about what was going on with me. I told her what I knew had helped me as a crutch until I could stabilize and asked for a referral to a person who had been part of my helping team in the past. I didn’t get to talk about this headache that is like a vise around my head at intervals and even caused me to feel dizzy while teaching on Thursday. The tight stomach and rapid fire skin suit of nerve endings are familiar. This is something new. I expect it is probably just a part of the anxiety but it would have been nice to feel I could at least mention it to the doctor to see if it could be something in my sinuses or the like.
I am not going to name the doctor because I am not telling this to put her down. Nor am I wanting sympathy because she made those choices. I have the strength to find other answers. Though shocked, talking about it in a put down way toward her is not helpful. She is just regurgitating something she has been taught.
I just want to say that as the body of Christ we are asked to both rejoice and mourn with each other. It is the natural reaction of the body. The danger of leprosy, from what I can understand, is that it cut off our senses so that parts of the body can get damaged and infected and the person with leprosy can’t feel it.
Have we bought so much into a gospel of praise that we have stopped being a honestly feeling body of believers? How can we become more sensitive to the needs of those parts that are hurting in the church so that we don’t lose parts of what would make us strong if only we had the sense (the spelling is meant to be that way) to develop the strength of those parts at the same time that we are comforts in their pain?”
The Christian thinking of writing about creative arts in worship led me back to paintings that one pastor had the grace to use as part of the worship service there. The one I am going to show you was one he welcomed into the time of lent because it represented the brokenness that was in my life at that time. I will never be able to explain how it felt looking up each service and seeing the image of my brokenness at the foot of the cross. I wrote the story to that writer, but here I am going to share the painting and the poem that it inspired in me today:
When all our masks have broken
We lay them at your feet
When dreams seem tossed and shattered
We lay them at your feet
There is no hopelessness in us
That you won’t understand
You felt the spikes go through your feet
Had nailprints in your hands
I come to you with all I am
And lay it at your feet
It is the only place I know
Where hopes and visions meet
You know the agony of all
The darkness life can bring
You cried into the heavens
“God, how could you do this thing?’
Forsaken by the father,
You felt it in your bones
Those moments when you hung there
On the cross you felt alone
Yet you rose victorious
Sit by your father’s side
Having gone through all the things
I try so hard to hide.
I fall before you on my knees
Trusting you’ll understand
You feel the nailprints in my soul
Throbbing in your hands
Your spike marked feet will walk with me
As I traverse this road
And you will be there with me
Helping with the load
Until the light of resurrected
Life blows through my veins
I trust you God, I always will
You’ll help me stand again.
All images in this post are from stages of creating the piece “At his Feet”, L. J. A. December 2011