I left something out of yesterday’s post in regards to being sick. Well, two things actually.
First is that I am not a “good” sick person. By that I mean, after about 4 hours, I’m ready to do myself in. Obviously not too seriously as I’m still here…but mentally, I’m done. I’m begging, pleading, crying out to God to end my “misery.” I’m mentally able to continue on in my illness because I know there will be an end to it, usually within the day if not sooner.
Just ask any of my former roommates (and there’s about 10 of them, so take your pick!) If the cold or the flu went longer than a day or two, I was fairly emphatic that I would forever be in this state of illness, regardless of how terribly unrealistic that view was. It was all about how I felt in the moment. I would be abundantly thankful that God had not chosen me to be one who dealt with chronic pain of any kind because I just could not see myself managing a life around something like that. I lived with friends who had chronic pains of one kind or another and I still do not know how they did it!
However, and this is the second thing I left out, Friday I experienced illness with a completely different perspective. I was still miserable, don’t get me wrong. But my thoughts went to far different places than they typically do. I could no longer allow myself to think that my world should end because of the pains in my gut or the pounding in my head.
That’s because of a woman named Rachel and a book called “The Hole in Our Gospel”.
Rachel was an awesome woman of God, a true friend, a loving and supportive wife and a fantastic mother to her two young daughters. The reason I know the adjectives to the facts about Rachel isn’t because I personally spent time getting to know her and had a friendship with her. Rachel was married to Jeff, a long-time friend of ours. We’ve known Jeff for over 15 years. We were at their wedding. Jeff was in our wedding. Rachel and Jeff lived in LA when we lived in Vegas and then recently they moved to Colorado, so we never really got the chance to truly know who Rachel was.
In early April we learned that Rachel had been diagnosed with stomach cancer. Jeff and Rachel have been married a year longer than we have. They have 2 daughters under the age of 5. All of a sudden, I really wish we had made more of an effort to know Rachel. She would post now and then about her experiences with chemotherapy, what she was learning about herself, about God, about others. When she passed away in August, I felt I knew Rachel far better in those months of her intense suffering than I did in the 8 years she was married to Jeff.
So when I was battling my seriously minor case of the stomach flu on Friday, I thought of Rachel and the frustration she probably felt when it came to not being able to care for her children the way they were used to. I was not able to care for L the way he was used to for about 4 hours and it was not fun, for him or for myself. I was humbled and once again brought to a place of praying for Jeff and his girls and their immense loss.
I also thought of the hundreds of thousands of parents who have perished due to the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Our church is in the middle of a 7-week series centered around “The Hole in Our Gospel”, by Richard Stearns, CEO of World Vision. While being aware of the poverty that Africa continues to suffer from before I started this journey through this book, my perspective changed a bit when I learned of how many children have been orphaned due to AIDS and other illnesses. Again, mothers and fathers in a helpless state of illness, having to suffer unimaginable pain and misery, and not being able to care for their children in the midst of it. Mothers dying knowing they were leaving their children to care for themselves because there were no adults left. Just children-headed households.
I know it will be challenging while my children are young the next time I get sick.
I also know I have no right to complain or bemoan my state of being, whether the headache is there or not.
I’m hopeful that my perspective will continue to be challenged as I am granted another day in this life.