” Paint a picture of a broken heart,
Paint that picture, and you can start to understand the love of the Saviour and, oh, how he understands you,
Paint a picture of a blood-covered cross
See that picture and you’ll know what it cost, the price God paid to prove his love for you. “
-‘Paint A Picture’
Dear Kindred Spirit,
It’s Christmas 2018, and many of us who should have a joyful heart have instead heartache. Let’s be honest, for some of us, the only light we see at this time is the one that illuminates the shadows. For some of us, myself included, the bars of our prisons are shown as the dark bends against the light that surrounds them.
Let me let you in on a secret. I’m very private when it comes to my own health issues. I want to keep them private. But if it helps you to understand I’m not talking ignorance, then it will be worth it.
You see, I have an unholy trinity in my life. Yes, I call it a “trinity”. They are: ADHD/Diabetes/Depression. They are envious of my time, as opposed to loving me. They want to dominate me, rather than working through my free will. They want to kill me emotionally, physically, and mentally. I even call Depression my “insidere spiritus”, because among the others, it shouts the loudest. When one acts, the others shout loudly. When one hijacks my life, the others enthusiastically cheer the other on. And yes, they work against the Holy Trinity.
I personify them because they personify the life I struggle with. Nor do I think there will ever be a magical cure for their eradication outside the hope I have when I come in contact with Glory and Grace, Love that transcends my urging for a perfection this side of heaven. And this is alright with me, for upon hearing the words of Saint Paul I’ve learned my hope lies beyond the dusk of this world :
“Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 8-10)”
This is no taunt to you, my friend. I’m saddened by those who think that by just praying hard and long enough, I will have the miracle of healing, as if prayer was a down payment on an investment one expects to grow dividends immediately. Frankly, I think of miracles as one of those very rare things by which my heart, when I may encounter it from a distance, am given the confidence that whether I get hit by a car tonight, or should I die at the end of some hideous disease, there is Someone Who, in the end, will always be there to receive me fully, by that I mean, I will be received in the fullness of what I was always meant to be, and far more than a respite from my illnesses (See 1 Corinthians 2:9).
We see the suffering in our friends and family. Sometimes, it is due to natural causes, sometimes through others. I confess, not only do I experience the natural ones, the depression and so forth. But I’ve also experienced the cold indifference of others. Even from the ones who should know better. Gandhi once said, “I like Christianity. It’s your Christians I have a problem with.” Gandhi’s sentiment is congruent with what Matthew writes in his gospel
” …For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure (Matthew 12:34-35).”
While Jesus addressed this to the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, Christians too can be Pharisaic. And in the midst of the current sexual scandal of the Church, there is nothing more hypocritical than to expect sanctity and holiness and instead face betrayal in the act so in opposition to what one confesses. Here, from out of the abundance of the mouth spews a contradiction. If you have been victimized by such a betrayal, you have my sympathies, my sorrow, my begging you for forgiveness on behalf of the Church.
I’ve experienced pain in my own life from those who call themselves a follower of Christ,. but I’ve also been the Pharisee. I’ve also at times treated others with indifference, perhaps with a touch of cowardice when I should have been brave to comfort the lost in their own despair. For this I’m deeply sorry for the times I have acted other than what Love calls me to. H What in the end I’m trying to convey to you is that in spite of all of this, there is born today an innocent child, a tender and helpless babe, Who needs to be cared for by a mother and father. Those who suffer can relate to being tender and helpless. But there is today something else. Today there is a hope unimaginable in this life and the next. For this child, this helpless babe, will be the Paschal Lamb, unblemished, innocent of all sin, nailed to a cross. You see, He was born to suffer and die, for all the diseased, which quite frankly, is all of us. He is Immanuel “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14). And “by death He conquered death”. He is the best physician for us, for He knows us better than others will ever know.
There are still good and honest Christians out there, no doubt, who believe with fervent passion, that will go the extra mile for the other. Of that I’ve seen myself, and hope that I am one of them. Not perfect, but willing. There is still healing to be found in the brokenness that can be found in the broken hearts of sinful people living the life of faith. I should know. I come broken time and again in front of Jesus Christ at Confession. There still is a Church, for Jesus said, “…the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).’ He didn’t say Hades would not try, only that it would not succeed .
But even if your broken heart is not moved yet, even if your pains, whether it be depression or something else, has not yet been touched, look at the baby Jesus. People can’t help falling in love with a baby.
And then maybe you will catch in His eyes acknowledging you saying, “I’ve come to set the captive free (see Luke 4:18).”
All biblical references are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)