It is an exciting day! Today, I found out two articles I've submitted have been published in two different online publications. I wrote about Race for the Fidelia's Sisters column Just Race, which is a magazine done by the Young Clergy Women's Project. Since I refuse to financially profit off teaching and writing about racism as a white person (any more than I already do because of the world), the payment I receive from the writing will go directly to black women.
Now, I am also a contributor on The Mighty! As I live with EDS3, I've learned a lot over the years about living with chronic pain, illness, and injury. I decided to stop hiding, being afraid for my career, and to start just being honest. I can be good at things, and have a hard time with life inside my body. I want to work for churches and groups that let Pastors be real people. Sometime soon I'll publish something about how living with EDS3 makes me a better Pastor, and all the gifts to the congregation I bring not in spite of it, but because of it. I also preached about how Jesus at the communion table has brought healing to my life with chronic illness on my sermon blog. You can listen here to Broken and Whole, a Maundy Thursday sermon for people in pain.
Read the published article here on my blog.
Read the same published article on The Mighty by clicking the button below. Please also click a heart for me if you read it there. Thanks!
What is normal, or typical, in some worlds is not normal in mine. My first sprain was 31 years ago, at the age of 7. Crutches and braces have been making my life work since then, and I’ve gotten good at getting doctors to find the best braces for whatever body part needs more support that day. What people don’t understand is that before I learned to love to my braces, I just stayed home when I was injured. I took myself out of life. I didn’t want to be out on crutches, or in braces. Or, if I did go out, I had a hard time engaging through the pain.
That was before I learned that my braces and crutches make my life whole and happy and less painful. Braces give me life -- the ability to be out in the world in livable levels of pain. If I can participate in an activity -- shopping with my family, going out to dinner, taking a class, playing outside with my son -- in less pain, why wouldn’t I want that? I am more present for others when I’m in less pain. However, I didn’t always know that was possible.
I had to come to terms with my need for braces. In my college and graduate school years (in my early 20s), I would often dress to hide my braces. My clothing choices were dictated by which body part needed support that day, or which part was injured. Sometimes, when I especially vain, I’d forgo the braces all together -- but then end up spending the next day in bed hardly able to move. Trying to hide who I am and how my body works only brought more pain.
There was a point when I grew out of that vanity. I’m not sure when or where or how, but now I use whatever I need to enjoy or to participate in life. I’ll carry pillows into restaurants, travel with ice packs, ask for an extra chair for my feet, and/or take my crutches if I think they’ll relieve more pain than they will cause.
Know what I discovered? When I am just me, and claim all of who I am instead of fighting it or hiding it, I’m better. I can do more things, I can live more life, I can give more to others – time, attention, energy, joy.
I learned to let the vanity go, and replace it with claiming what I needed, which brought me and all those around me more joy in life. I am less dependent on others this way, too. I don’t often get into trouble (unless it is a new injury that just happened in the moment) where I’ve been out too long and need to limp home on someone’s arm.
My braces are almost part of my body now. My spouse jokes that he got a wife with an exoskeleton. If you, like me, also need an exoskeleton to enjoy life, claim it. As you can see in the picture, my new space age blue brace matches my wrap and jewelry to a degree. Before, I would have worn a floor length skit, but today I wear what I want, and use the braces in all their glory to be fully present in the world. If you, like me, are somewhere on this journey of learning to claim the things you need in life, this is your invitation to move forward, knowing that you’re not alone.
Welcome to my new blog! I chose this name partly because I live near Chicago, which was a big place for speakeasies during prohibition. Today, I experience many prohibitions in the church. Sometimes, often even, they get in the way of us being clear about our purpose of the mission of God, communicating Jesus' saving love to all the world. This will hopefully be a place for us to have conversation and say what needs to be said with honesty, fun, and not taking ourselves TOO seriously. Welcome, I hope you enjoy and participate and share the conversations!
Pastor Jess, Author
Loves Jesus, Loves and Hates the Church at the Same Time, Calling Us to Honestly, ELCA Pastor
This work is licensed by Rev. Jessica A. Harren under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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