Spiritual

When you feel like a “Lovey,” Remember you are Loved

By: JANA GREENE

When my second daughter was born, I wore a very lightweight sea foam green bathrobe at the hospital. I think I had bought it from Walmart. It had a soft lace around the edges, which were soothing for her to feel when she was nervous. It was inherently nothing special, but she glommed onto it, and it quickly became her security blanket. We called it “Lovey.”

She still has Lovey. She is 30 years old now, and throughout the years, Lovey is about the only thing that conveyed in all of her moves. I believe she still might sleep with it.

Much like the Velveteen Rabbit, Lovey became a shred of a thing. It had been snuggled, cried on, donned as a costume, barfed on, and worn as a turban, her whole life. It has shrunk from tumbles in the dryer. Like the Velveteen Rabbit of lore, Lovey became puny with wear, shredded by love.

As a chronic illness and pain patient, I feel a little like Lovey these days. I don’t feel identifiable as who I issued to be.

When I leave this world, I will leave it with my body in shreds. My hope is to be softer than when I came, ego shrunk from tumbles. My purpose only to love and be loved.

I feel shredded lately. My pain levels have been monumental. It’s almost more than I can bear, to be honest.

The trick is, I think, to realize that sickness is not the only thing shredding me. My joints – all 360 of them in the human body – are essentially being held together with silly putty instead of Gorilla Glue. My Earth Suit makes faulty collagen. Everything hurts, almost all the time.

When I feel leveled by the pain, I need to be mindful that illness isn’t my only leveler. I’m also being loved, and I know that. I’m very grateful.

All of us Loveys – tattered, worn, and threadbare – have to remember that we don’t lose our value as we experience the transition from being something the world recognizes and can easily determine the function of, to something whose purpose might not look as obvious.

See, my daughter’s lovey had only become more valuable to her. The fact that an old robe can find new life as something completely different is oddly comforting. It meant the difference between being an article of mom’s clothing, and becoming a beloved “friend.” It meant the difference between the Goodwill basket, and an honored place on her pillow.

So maybe I’m not breaking. Maybe I’m becoming. And in this season of great difficulty, I choose to believe the latter. I have to hold on to hope.

Puny from wear, shredded with love.

God bless us, every one.

chronic illness · Spiritual

EDS – When Pain is the Order of the Day

By: JANA GREENE

Hello, dear readers.

The past week has been a pain-fest. There have been times I’ve just laughed hysterically at the notion that I’m supposed to live day in and day out in this level of pain. Ha!! I mean REALLY??
So I write about it, because it’s the ONLY way I can deal with any of it. Thank God journaling is an outlet.
The truth is that I am slowly losing my mobility, and in awful pain while doing it.
This is life with Ehlers Danlos.
This morning, I subluxed my thumb out of joint, picking up a stack of papers. I bent down to clean litter boxes and the pain in my “good” knee brought me to tears. I waved at someone the other day and had to ice my freaking shoulder that night. It’s not just big movements that cause injury anymore. I can dislocate fingers opening a jar. I can’t hang laundry in the closet anymore because I have to reach too high to hang Bob’s shirts. Stairs are murder on my hips and knees. I AM ONLY 53 YEARS OLD.
I am really starting to feel by body slipping. I no longer have “a good knee” or “a good shoulder.” The mutated collagen holds my joints together is getting more lax. My skin is getting stretchier by the day because it doesn’t have proper collagen to hold it together. Falling asleep is excruciating because no matter how I lay, there’s pressure. Pain wakes me up from my sleep.
When my husband hugs me, I frequently ask him to hold me tighter so that it feels like my shoulders aren’t coming out of the sockets. I wake up and decide what I need to brace for the day – I have a “wall of braces” in my closet. I hadn’t had to use my cane since I lost the 40 lbs, but I’m having to use it again. One day I’ll need a wheelchair. Normally, I bitch about these things and move on, but it hasn’t subsided long enough for me to take a breather between flares lately. This of course this takes a toll on the whole family. Then guilt kicks in. Lather, rinse, repeat.
My Instagram and TikTok handles are “unbreakableJBG,” because I may be fragile, but this won’t break me. Oh hell no. I’m too damn stubborn. (But please pray for me, if you think of it.) ❤️

Spiritual

That “Chris Robinson” Spiritual Freedom

By: JANA GREENE

God, I love music.

And not just “love” it like I love chocolate, or cats, or 70-degree days.

No. I mean it “ministers” to my soul, man. And not in the holy-roller way; but in a way that satisfies me to the core. Maybe you feel the same?

A few months ago, my husband took me to see a concert by the Black Crowes. Watching the lead singer, Chris Robinson, create and enjoy his music on stage was mesmerizing. He didn’t exactly dance like no one was watching; his dance was more like an inviation to join him.

He flailed his arms; he stomped his feet. Shades of Woodstock, I tell you. He danced about because his body had to follow the direction of his heart. Can you imagine the Black Crowes performing while sitting in stillness? Of course not.

His fancy footwork was unchoreographed, but in the freest, most uninhibited way. That man couldn’t care less if thousands of people were watching, he just let go and let the music take over 100%. And you cannot convince me that God himself was present, chillin’, and appreciating the fine artform his kid Chris was sharing. (We are all his kids, you know.)

“I want to get to that level of unbotherdness,” I told my husband. “That’s true spirituality right there.”

And it was.

What seems like both yesterday and an eternity ago, I read Eric Clapton’s autobiography (aptly named “Clapton”) on a sunny beach in Aruba. I was on my honeymoon. It was 2007.

“I have always been resistant to doctrine, and any spirituality I had experienced thus far in my life had been much more abstract and not aligned with any recognized religion. For me, the most trustworthy vehicle for spirituality had always proven to be music.” Eric Clapton said.

Ah yes….MUSIC.

I’ve always felt this way about music, but it scared me. Getting heavy into a vibe felt like giving in to secularism, unless the song was churchy. “Churchy” music was fine to dance too. Heck, you could sprawl yourself out on the floor whilst fellow congregants got their groove on. Because it was FOR GOD. “The bigger the spectacle, the closer to God” was kind of the thinking.

I’ve fought it my whole life, good music trying to settle into the marrow of my bones. In my teen years, our youth pastor hosted a “Devil’s Music” night, and I wish I were kidding. We listened to Led Zepplin – whose music I was already having a torrid affair with – and then we listened to it BACKWARDS.

OH MY GOD HAVE I BEEN WORSHIPPING DARK FORCES, just by listening? This scared me into an exclusively Amy Grant and Petra phase, which I really tried to adhere to, but have you HEARD Al Green? Have you felt the pulse and lull of David Bowie’s voice?

The bottom line of the theology I lived by for years was: If it’s not worshiping God, it’s worshiping the devil. Which – in my current de/reconstructed faith, sounds absolutely ridiculous, but it’s what millions of people think is true.

Maybe all music is of God, because it was his big idea. Feel that bass in your heart? Chris Robinson does, and he isn’t afraid to BE the music.

But what if the music has a dark message? I promise you it’s not too dark for God to hear. We are ALL in a dark place many times throughout life. We record it and remember it because it too is part of the human experience. I personally have a Spotify list of “Crying Songs,” because sometimes my antidepressants make it difficult to cry and these songs really get me going.

Emotion is not the enemy. Things that evoke emotion are not innately bad.

For the majority of my life, I’ve tried to temper what I assumed was “worldly,” lest I offend God with my listening choices. “You are what you listen to,” I was taught.

And what I’ve been taught has run my whole life up until this point. Obsessed with what the church sanctioned, all while doubting the church’s reasoning but being afraid to give it voice.

But the subjectivity of music is like appreciation for any other art. Only God could take doh, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, doh, and give us the liberty to arrange those simple sounds into millions of possibilities. And I have to believe that’s a holy process. Lots of things are part of a holy process. MOST things, I’d venture.

For God so loved the world, that he gave it music. And to make sure it properly,was executed properly, he gave us Chris Robinson, Van Morrison, Creed, Snoop Dogg, and Al Green.

And I’m grateful. I want to give myself over to music…become a spectacle not to impress others, but because the music is reaching a place in my soul that is so full, I have to get my body involved in what my heart is already enjoying.

God bless us, everyone. Crank up your tunes, and enjoy all the good gifts God has given!