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"Medicine or Medi-Sin?" by Chantal Howard (CatholicMom.com) Image credit: Pixabay.com (2005), CC0/PD[/caption] How are you self-medicating today? Let's be honest ... we all do this to some extent or another. Sadly, my “drug of choice” is busyness!!! The greatest drug of our times, no doubt! Admittedly, screens and sugar are a constant temptation, too. How about for you? Maybe you are wrestling with these pacifying escapisms as well. Or perhaps it's the age-old alcohol or sneaky pharmaceuticals that take the edge of pain away, control of others, or more aggressive and addictive substances? We know the world is trapped in explicit material and porn which, too, is tied to the hurting heart and the desire for something that feels good and numbs our humanity and masks our brokenness. I have recently been rubbing shoulders with some "ruffians." The kind of people that most skirt-wearing, homeschooling, essential-oil-using, church-going mamas like me don't often have the privilege of embracing. In this space, profanity is rampant; Our Lord's name is taken in vain constantly without batting an eyelash. Sex, drugs, and alcohol are the pinnacle of life here. And the evidence of medicating life away so that it doesn't hurt so much is magnified a hundred fold. And yet, these "lost sheep" have a capacity to be kind, to recognize beauty, to see goodness in their work or their craft and take pride in the excellence of what they know. There is always hope! They seem so stuck in the middle ... hungering for "real substance" (Jesus in the Eucharist, hint, hint) and yet they are so sure their counterfeits are all that is worth living for. This has made me think of this song that my daughter recently brought to my attention ... called It's Just Medicine. Take a listen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sf6mkYz4mx0 Creepy, eh? It's as if there are two voices in this song. One seems to be saying, "Your pain could all just go away -- take the plunge, take the pill! Just escape it all. Take the medicine and be done with it." And then the second voice seems to counter, "Don't buy the lie. You can still be who you are meant to be. But you have to get off the drug ... it's really killing you, not saving you." Truth: The stats of addiction to medicine and daily death from overdose and misuse are staggering and at epidemic levels. But when I listen to this song -- the way the singer presses into the words MEDICINE -- awakes in me a thought. Maybe its MEDI-SIN that she is really singing about? The root of the word medicine is medi which in latin means "in the middle." Maybe it's a stretch, but just think: Where does the devil want us?? Stuck in the middle. Neither hot nor cold. Lost in the "lotus flower casino" (for those that know the Percy Jackson and the Olympiads reference). The enemy is interested in glazing us over subtly, trapping us in sugary happiness that only lasts as long as the high does. Then we need another hit, another buzz, more meds, another project, another series to binge watch, another soda to down, or another person to gossip about. We can too easily just replace one kind of “drug” for another. The enemy wants to draw out the addictive impulse in all of us and keep us there. He wants us stuck in our sin no matter what shape, size, or disguise it takes on. He wants to blur our path to real fulfillment in the presence of Christ. So the ultimate question for us is ... What things in our lives are keeping us from choosing beatitude? We can’t just think of what we are running from, but what are we running toward? After all, it’s not just about what we put into our bodies, but what comes out of our hearts that ultimately is the measure of sin, says Christ (Matthew 15:11). The enemy hates this kind of thinking, because it moves us toward freedom in Christ. The line between healthy outlets verses addictive choices is one that we have to constantly seek to shine the light on. The death of our brains, our bodies, our hearts, our very souls are in the balance.  We aren't meant to live in misery. We aren't meant just to suffer. We aren't meant to grin and bear it. We are supposed to be living fully alive! We need our physical needs addressed. We need our disorders supported, our hurt assuaged enough that we can build good choices back into our lives. My point isn’t to discount those who have a legitimate need for support or even medication. The reality is that I have no idea what’s going on in my neighbor’s world and I am not writing this as a blatant judgement or as medical advise. Rather, I want to speak life for myself and others who need encouragement to find healthy solutions to our weariness. We all need to keep setting aside the encumbrances that hold us back from the True Substance, the Living Water, the Bread of Life, the True Medicine of Souls, and the Solace we all crave. So here are a few non-negotiable, tried and true solutions I turn to when I am tempted to medicate my pain away and that help fix my gaze back on the the True Healer. 
  1. Meditation. 7 minutes of silence, physical relaxation, repeated Jesus prayer, deep breathing, and focus on Christ Who loves me and simply wants me to fix my gaze on Him and His on me, is a simple source of solace.
  1. Rosary. A great way to reorient my life, examine my life in the light or Jesus and Mary and offer up my suffering for the salvation of others.
  1. Walking. A brisk walk in which I raise my heart rate, breathe deeply and vigorously move my body to release stress and invigorate mood. This is when great thoughts often come to me, too!
  1. Life-giving food. I always feel better when I cut out sugar and heavy carbs and eat foods that provide energy and clear thinking: a smoothie, a healthy salad, a tall glass of water with lemon, a tasty handful of veggies and hummus, and the like.
  1. Scripture. Opening the Word of God can help me hear the voice of the Lord and help me find solace in hHis intimate working and care for me. The Psalms are always a safe place I head, or I like to just reach out to the Gospels or St. Paul for a quick encounter with God’s directive and consolation.
  1. Purposeful Rest. The too-busy drug can be stopped in its tracks when I intentionally take time to rest. I find even a 10-minute nap or a relaxed moment on the deck with a cup of tea and some sunshine can help rest my anxious heart.
  1. Wholesome Friendship. What a great gift to alleviate the heavy heart. Reaching out to my prayerful and God-oriented friends can be a great way to seek support with the trials of motherhood. I lean on my best friend to hold me accountable and to help challenge me forward.
  1. Confession. So much of the weight of the world does come from the burden of sin. The Divine Physician with His medicine for the soul and His absolution is the first place I turn when my conscience is laden with guilt. As from a cleansing shower, I emerge refreshed and free.
  1. Adventure and Wilderness Time. It is often the most uncomfortable at first, but surely one of the most rewarding and naturally uplifting solutions I have in my “medicine cabinet.” I know that if I run to the hills, pack a picnic, go for a bike ride, or a lake swim or even cliff jumping where it’s safe but still thrilling, my need for screen time or some other unhealthy outlet will dissolve.
  1. Adoration. I like to lay prostrate before the Lord and even plug my ears as I spend time in adoration with the Lord. I like to think of it as His Holy Hour, not me taking a Holy Hour (or Holy 15 minutes as the case may be) … after all, it is His gift for me. Son-bathing is a sure fire way to sooth my soul and lighten my mood.
Let's leave the "drugs" behind and begin anew. Remember - maybe you're not stuck in some major drug addiction yourself, but I bet you’re like me ... battling the addiction of being too busy. Like our priest said a few weeks ago when he was preaching on Martha and Mary, "The devil might not get you to be bad, but he will get you to be busy." And that my friend, can be just as bad as any other bad out there. So l encourage you. Create a path forward for minimalism, healing, natural wellness and time freedom. We can begin to change the stats and witness to the joy of healthy living in Christ.
Copyright 2019 Chantal Howard