Recently, I was lifted to new levels of inspiration by the story of Louis Zamperini in Unbroken, a film about a WWII veteran who survived being tortured in a Japanese POW camp, and also by the unbelievable response from the people in Paris, France to the horror, outrage, and despair surrounding the brutal attack at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, when thousands of people gathered in defiance of and solidarity against this horrible act. This is the message that can be taken from these events: these acts of bravery and defiance need to be emulated to heal and recover from the challenges before us – whether it’s at home, or in churches, communities, or the nation.
With Louis Zamperini, it was his commitment to God that gave him the strength to endure and finally brought him his solace – a commitment he had made while surviving in a life raft for 47 days before being rescued by the enemy. And after the brutal attack at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, people quietly showed solidarity and courage by displaying signs that read “not afraid.” These are two inspiring examples of how individuals and groups courageously redirected their emotional pain at enduring such heartbreaking experiences.
Many today are experiencing another heartbreaking type of pain: chronic pain. And with this pain, many are turning to pain pills to find relief. It turns out that this is a rapidly growing and alarming trend. The number of drug prescriptions to treat pain increased from 76 million in 1991 to 219 million in 2011. As people are turning to these pain pills, addiction to them has also been on the rise.
National reports on this trend show there are gaps in dealing with pain, which include lack of access to better treatment methods, poor preparedness among physicians, and minimal encouragement to start an individualized, multidisciplinary approach to treating it. Could it be that it will take an indomitable spirit like Louis Zamperini had or the courage shown by the people of France to meet this addiction challenge?
I mentioned in a previous article how some veterans initially prescribed many pills for pain and PTSD are now choosing to stop taking these medications and are feeling significantly better without the drugs. They are not alone! Over the years many inspiring individuals and groups have been at the forefront of change, advocating for non-drug-based solutions. One such individual was Mary Baker Eddy, who successfully sought an answer to her own chronic health needs by studying the Bible and Jesus’ works. As her understanding of Jesus’ teachings grew, Eddy was able to consistently demonstrate the healing power of Spirit (a term she used to refer to God). Her medicine was prayer. Eddy wrote, “Instead of blind and calm submission to the incipient or advanced stages of disease, rise in rebellion against them.”
Zamperini and the people in Paris symbolize this Spirit by rising in rebellion against tyranny and finding recovery and healing.
But how does a person embrace this Spirit when drug addiction from treating a pain so many times results in a lack of hope, faith, and trust – qualities that are fundamental components to recovery from pain and addiction? The answer is that a greater focus on developing and nurturing spiritual identity can bring relief and open the way to recovery from addiction. Through her own healing, and by healing others, Eddy realized and proved that knowing a person’s nature is actually spiritual has a great healing effect on unhealthy conditions, addiction included. Finding the unshakable courage that comes from indomitable, divine Spirit brings us an ever-expanding hope, and an all-embracing Love does produce healing.
photo © GLOW IMAGES. Model used for illustrative purposes.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=0879520388][amazon template=iframe image&asin=0471218936]