In 1970, the Beatles released a song called ‘The Long And Winding Road.’ The song started out as a simple ballad written by Paul McCartney in Scotland in 1968 at a time in which the cracks in The Beatles’ relationships were become ever deeper. ‘The Long And Winding Road’ was released as a U.S. single on May 11, 1970, and 1.2 million copies were sold in the first two days. It was The Beatles’ 20th and final number one single in America. If you’re unfamiliar with the song, here is an audio recording from Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/search/the%20long%20and%20winding%20road
What was the meaning behind it?
“It’s a sad song because it’s all about the unattainable; the door you never quite reach. This is the road that you never get to the end of.” Paul McCartney
What does the song symbolize to the listener, even years later?
The Long and Winding Road is a metaphor for someone’s life. That life always leads back to the door of this other person, and they will always be connected to us somehow — no matter what. The winding road represents all the challenges we deal with in our lives, but the comfort is “the door” that we can always count on.
Living and struggling with a chronic illness, or multiple chronic illnesses, is like walking on a long and very winding road, often not being sure what’s around the next bend. Around that next bend, you may ask, “Is this going to move me forward (bring pain relief, reduce or relieve symptoms, address the root cause) without taking me backward?”
I recently had an experience that was a surprise around a bend. I was referred to a pelvic pain specialist for pelvic pain I’ve had for two years. I had an in-person appointment followed by two virtual appointments, and in all of them, the doctor was very optimistic that I could find pain relief over a period of time. We agreed the next best step to address my pelvic pain was to have a nerve block. My husband drove me 2-1/2 hours one way to see this doctor. Without going into details, the doctor was unable to do the nerve block and said there was nothing further he could do for me.
Shock, anger, surprise, disappointment, and confusion. It felt like someone had blown up my balloon of hope as much as possible prior to the appointment, and the failed procedure and his words stuck a pin in that balloon and suddenly burst it.
So, we got back on that long and winding road…literally and figuratively.
Unlike the above interpretations of ‘The Long and Winding Road,’ I know that Jesus walks that road with me through the challenges, disappointments, and joys. “He will never let me stumble, slip, or fall. For he is always watching, never sleeping.” (Psalm 121:3-4 TLB) He knows who and what’s around every bend of our lives, and is there to lead us, catch us, comfort us, warn us, and shield us. God promises this in so many ways in the Bible, and here are just a few:
“If God hadn’t been there for me, I never would have made it. The minute I said, “I’m slipping, I’m falling,” your love, God, took hold and held me fast. When I was upset and beside myself, you calmed me down and cheered me up.” (Psalm 94:17-19 The MSG)
“Give your burdens to the Lord. He will carry them. He will not permit the godly to slip or fall.” (Psalm 55:22 TLB)
“Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” (Hebrews 4:14-16 The MSG)
Why did I have to travel 5 hours for a failed procedure and great disappointment? Why am I still having pain? I don’t have the answers to those questions, but I can tell you God has shown and taught me lessons in my pain and disappointments that I would never know if I didn’t experience them.
- He’s shown me that a LOT of people have “invisible illnesses” that impact their daily lives, and I need to give grace before criticism or judgement.
- He’s shown me how important it is to have gratitude for what we do have, for what He’s given us. Daily, even hourly. This is the one I struggle with the most as I tend to have grand ideas in my head that my body can no longer do. One of the greatest gifts God has given me is a husband who loves unconditionally, serves me daily, prays for me, weeps with me, and handles disappointments with grace.
- He’s shown me that prayer changes a lot. Sometimes it’s situations, sometimes it’s people, but often it is me! He changes my attitude, my thoughts, my love. That day we drove 5 hours roundtrip, God gave us a beautiful sunny day in the middle of winter with no traffic problems, and a whole day to spend together with a delicious lunch and dinner.
- He gives me strength when I don’t have it. Strength to keep moving. Strength to teach fitness classes. Strength to keep trying. Strength to write and tell others what He wants them to hear. Strength to love my husband, family, and friends. “’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (1 Corinthians 12:9 NIV)
- He’s shown me that doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals are flawed human beings, just like me, in need of God’s grace (and mine too). They are often as frustrated as I am that they are unable to bring pain relief or alleviate symptoms. They are pressured to limit time with each patient. They have bad days. They make mistakes. But they care. They have insights and knowledge that I don’t have. They want healing for me too.
As you walk down this sometimes lonely long and winding road of chronic illness, remember that Jesus walks with you, hand in hand, just as a parent walks with a child, looking ahead for obstacles, dangers, traffic and what’s around the next bend. Just as children depend on parents because they feel safe and secure in their love, you can also completely depend on Jesus to do the same for you.