I’m on the mend after being miserable with a cold for the past few days. My children sure are relieved, which they expressed today when they came home from school, “Oh good! You’re dressed!”
You see, there are two sets of rules in our house: the regular everyday rules for keeping a tidy home and getting along with each other; and the rules when Mommy’s sick with a cold. The latter set includes the regular rules plus the following:
- no noise allowed, whether loud, muted, musical or otherwise
- all Kleenex boxes belong to me
- personal space enlarges twofold (an arm’s length plus an arm’s length… and to be safe, add another arm’s length)
- laughing may be misinterpreted, try to avoid it
- the couch is mine, which I inhabit with my Kleenex, my Snuggie, and my remote control
- all phone calls are screened and subsequently ignored
- the answer to every one of your questions is NO
Part of me feels that my getting sick was God’s idea to lay bare all the things in my life that I need to confess. Because when you’re not feeling well, you are at your worst. You might even be what some call “awful.”
Something about the breakdown of one’s health means the breakdown of civility and good feelings. When you’re sick, you’re tanked emotionally; all the things you keep buried on those pleasant, sunny days rise up to show their ugly faces.
This morning I asked God to reveal which part of me being “awful” is because I’m sick and which part is that I’m a terrible, sinful creature. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I realized that the answer is both.
When I’m sick:
- I feel inadequate. When sickness ties me down, it means my lists don’t get checked off. It means the dishes pile up in the sink and the clothes, on the floor. It means I feel too weak to carry out my plans and ideas, which I second-guess and diminish. The pleasure of progress and productivity disappears. I’m impatient and mean to my kids and husband. That all makes me feel guilty.
- I feel scared about the future. This feeds off the inadequacies. Here’s a snapshot of how I whine when I’m sick: HOW LONG will I feel this way? Will the dishes ever get done? Will I ever be well enough to go out in public? Will I be able to do my job? Speaking of jobs, I need one! Who would employ me in this Snuggie anyway? No one! We’ve got mouths to feed, bills to pay! And so on.
- I am discontent with the present. This one rears its ugly head during PMS too. It’s a blamer and its a liar. Why won’t anyone else do those dishes? Can’t they see I’m sick? Why doesn’t anyone care that I’m sick? Look at them, all nice and healthy, rosy-cheeked and snot-free. How dare they flaunt their health in my presence. They’re making me feel bad. I wish they would go three arms’-lengths away.
Which leads me to feeling inadequate again and the cycle continues…
This unhealthy (in every sense of the word) thinking reveals my insecurities; the enemy brings them up when I’m at my weakest. None of that is from God: the pity party, the discontent, or the fears.
You’ve probably heard people say they’ve been grateful for sickness. They usually say it in hindsight. It’s never the sickness they’re grateful for, really, but the bi-product of being made to slow down and rest. Those who are contemplative might come away with some new insight because of it and be grateful for it.
That’s where I am headed. These past few days I’ve had the chance to do that repenting I was talking about, which I believe is the first step to “living a greatly reduced life… to discover a greatly increased God.”
I think of the verse from John 3:30, “He must become greater; I must become less.” I also like that verse in the King James Version, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (Surprised there are no “eths” in that one!)
God has shown me that I have to let go of the importance I place on my time, my resources, my ideas and plans. They are valuable, but they can become their own idol. They are to be given to God – a constant lesson.
Lord bless me, I am never as “decreased” or “less” as when I’m sick. Eh, kids?