With a majority of my travels keeping me close to home, I find technology a welcome, effective way for me to stay in touch with the world. First email, now Facebook help to give me a little window into the happenings of friends who live nearby, across the state, across the country and even on other continents. It is fun to see the “status” of friends, finding out about a child’s first steps, the discovery of a long-lost earring, a good book… or of the loss of a pet, the illness of a friend, or the fatal accident of a high school teacher (this was just a couple of weeks ago).
I’ve just recently reconnected with. a college friend who, like me, has “invisible” physical issues, though her primary issue is with fibromyalgia. FM has a bit in common with multiple sclerosis: it can affect energy, isn’t always predictable, it can grow worse in extreme weather, and it is exacerbated by stress. But there is a big difference: the most prominent symptom of fibromyalgia is pain. Significant, extreme pain, not the “just take a couple of Tylenol” type of pain.
On her Facebook “status” this morning, this college friend shared a poem by an RN who has fibromyalgia. I read this, and tears came to my eyes.
Mornings of stiffness filled with such pain
My soul slowly drowning in Hell Fire’s Rain.
I am alone with this coward that won’t set me free
Fibromyalgia just won’t let me be…
Hours of sleep spent only in vain
He beats at my body inflicting more pain.
Invisible silence, the most evil trick
No evidence to prove that I am so sick.
– Debra Van Ness
FM is one of those illnesses that is so hard to understand – I have five friends with this diagnosis, and I will agree that they each appear fine outwardly. But I know there are things that I will never understand, feelings they experience and problems they face that, though I hesitate to admit, I’m so thankful not to face myself. And as I read Debra’s words, I know those feelings could also describe those with other internal struggles, things that are even less visible.
You know, I appreciate Facebook, and I must admit that sometimes it causes me to think and ponder more than I had intended. But you know what else it does? It leads me to pray. As our “invisible issues” are brought into the open, we are reminded that nothing is invisible – or impossible – to our God. Our souls needn’t drown, but be refreshed by our God who can feel our silent pain. This is a prayer not just for my friends with FM, but for all who are feeling an invisible silence.