No one chooses when illness comes nor trials of any kind.
But they come nevertheless. Unannounced, unwelcomed, inconvenient.
Expectations are rearranged, reshaped, sometimes bending us out of shape.
Illness came for me this year over a holiday, Thanksgiving.
After delivering what I hope to be an "inaugural teaching" called, "Giving Thanks in the Thick of It," I found my very self in the thick of it with achy muscles and joints, low-grade fever, chills and general malaise.
I lay in bed that first night of fighting the chills thinking, "It must just be the crash after the build up of giving this talk." I didn't think I had built up this talk in my mind or heart. I was not giving it my normal obsessive attention. I was not nervous, more than I thought was reasonable at least. I asked for input and prayer from others, and had committed the results to God a part from how I "performed." Perhaps my body was telling a different tale.
Seven days later, today, Thanksgiving day, I can say my body was not crashing from some mentally frenzied build up of anticipation to fulfilling a dream of mine. No, I just simply got sick.
Some virus. Four days in, I went to my doctor who said, "Gone are the days of the 24-hour bug. Viruses are stronger now and last longer. There is nothing to do but wait it out."
So, I am waiting it out. and waiting. and waiting.
And, there are all kinds of observations to be made in the waiting rooms of life.
Once one gets past the obvious observation that she doesn't like to wait, there is a lot more to see.
1. A husband who goes after life with all the tools I find completely useless. But, he utilizes them and gets things done after all. Different tools, different strategies. But, the man gets things done.
I spend far too much time criticizing him for the "tools" he chooses to use and how he chooses to use them...spreadsheets, clipboards, hours of planning, researching. I am often busy blazing a trail with whatever stick I found on the path, working really hard but not smart, and criticizing him for wasting time looking up "the best tools to blaze a trail" on google.
Father, thanks for giving me this time to do nothing but watch him, watch my husband do what he does so well. He does it his way which is not my way, but it is A way and sometimes the better way if I'm humble enough to admit it. He is good at doing things his way. Things get done. People are served and loved. And, he is a gift to me. Help me to stop criticizing and trying to convince him that he's wasting time but rather to cheer him on and to give thanks for giving me a man who is so completely my opposite and yet loves me fiercely and so, so well.
2. My children can be rather self sufficient when they need to be. I love and hate that at the same time. For forever, it felt like, I just wanted my children to grow up so they could cut their own food, buckle themselves into their seats, dress and wipe themselves in the bathroom. And now they can do all of that and more. But from the vantage point of laying on the couch, all of them helping themselves and then moving on, I was sad to not be able to serve them. I realized what a gift it is to serve others.
Father, thank you for giving me this undeserved role of "mom." I complain about it so often, and I feel so ill-suited for the role, but you gave it to me anyway. And, I actually love it. I love being my kids' mom. I love serving them. I love helping them learn how to live life. It is an incredibly undeserved gift You've given me, motherhood. Thank you.
3. There is far less to do in life than what I think needs to be done.
I make lots of lists. I have a lot of things to do. always. Illness has this way of distilling down to the bare necessities on those lists I love. Day after day has passed of me accomplishing very little but simply putting in another day, fighting to be healthy again.
I L O V E productivity. I A D O R E getting things done. I derive immense satisfaction at coming to the end of a day, looking back on that day having done many, many things. I may even find a bit of my self worth wrapped up in being a productive person. I know in my mind that my worth is not in what I accomplish, but I still function and respond to life as though it were at times. I do not find great joy in simply "being." No, "Doing" has always been my jam.
But, I have had to figure this out because God has laid me out time and time again. I have had to come face to face with what and in Whom I am going to find value and worth, not just for myself but for everyone else, too.
Am I lovely because I am? Are you lovely because you are? Am I worthy because Jesus calls me worthy, or is it because I crossed ten things off the list today?
Father, this is a hard thank you, but a thank you nonetheless, for taking me out of the game of life from time to time. You do this far more often than I would prefer, but apparently I am a very slow learner. Thank you for loving me simply because you made me to be loved. Thank you for making me work hard to find my value and worth in YOUR greatness rather than my own, in YOUR ability rather than my own.
4. In my own suffering, I am so much more aware of others suffering this year. Friends who are battling chronic illnesses of various kinds, friends who are mourning loss or fretful about impending loss of some kind--you are all so close to my heart right now and in my thoughts.
If this is how acutely aware I am of those suffering, how much more so is God not only aware but so very near. Psalm 34:18 says, The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit.
Father, thank you that you are a God who sees and knows, who cares for us and carries our sorrows. Thank you that you are a God who sympathizes with us in all our frailty because you took on human flesh yourself. You came down to our earth and experienced it in all its brokenness and mess, in its illness and grief. And, now Jesus, you stand to the right of God,the Father, who sits on the throne of grace, and you pray for us by name to our Father who is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness. Thank you that though my home be without human companions at the moment, I keep the company of Christ with me always.
There seem always more words to write and say, but my frailty allows me no more strength to peck it out. It is time to rest. again.
A truly, "Happy Thanksgiving" to all no matter what state or circumstance you find yourself in.