I’ve been sick.
I mean, really, really sick. For about a week. I think the doctor called it acute pharyngitis, which sounds like a fancy way of saying “sore throat” but was oh so much more than that.
So after a trip to urgent care where I received a nebulizer treatment and a prescription for steroids, I spent the day in my daughter’s room with a humidifier and diffuser on full blast, being brought cups of tea and having my temperature taken regularly by my children, which, if I had felt better, might have caused my heart to swell with pride (it’s doing it a little bit now).
But I was so sick I just sat there propped up on pillows and tried not to cough, because my cough was a croupy cough that is somewhat common in children but rare in adults.
Of course. I couldn’t get sick the normal way. I had to be rare.
My takeaway from the trip to urgent care was that if, upon arriving, you find that the receptionist is snippy and operating under the mistaken idea that the word “urgent” on the sign outside translates as “what’s the rush,” a good way to galvanize her into not only action but an awareness that her job actually does involve people who are sick, and not just paperwork and printers, is to sit in the waiting room coughing at regular intervals with a high-pitched barking sound that makes everyone within earshot wince.
I must admit I breathed deeply a few times just to trigger a cough or two.
And it worked. She suddenly had a change of attitude and became very sympathetic and solicitous, right up until I left and she admonished me sincerely to rest up and feel better.
I finally got my steroids later in the day, after the pharmacy rejected the first prescription, saying “use as directed” was not sufficient instruction from the doctor for them to fill it. When my daughter brought the prescription to me we had a moment of hilarity, because the “better” instructions read,
“Take all four tablets by mouth now.”
Feeling a little like Alice in Wonderland, I obeyed, silencing the voice of the English Teacher in my head, who was complaining about the relativity of the word “now.”
At any rate, that was yesterday. This morning I woke up feeling better. I sprang out of bed at 6 a.m., marveling at the fact that I felt like a human being again, and immediately set to cleaning the kitchen, until my 24 year old daughter got up and glared me back to the couch.
Because the funny thing is, once I took stock, I realized that I don’t actually feel WELL. I still have a terrible headache, I can’t hear out of my right ear, my sinuses are swollen and if I breathe too deeply a toned-down version of the Tortured Seal Cough emits from my throat. And I’m still exhausted.
So if yesterday, and the preceding five days of malaise, hadn’t happened, I’d be feeling pretty sorry for myself and canceling plans for the day.
But taking it in perspective, today is a good day, and I feel okay. I’ve still canceled plans for the day, but I no longer feel like I’m dying.
Maybe it’s the albuterol (which got me higher than a kite) still lingering, or maybe it’s the enforced rest giving me time to think, but it’s made me quite philosophical.
Well, okay, I’m quite philosophical as a rule. You’ve probably figured that out by now. So let’s just say I’ve had time to think these past few days, where the month before has been a whirlwind of activity with moving my mother in and trying to sell her home.
But it’s made me draw parallels between the relief I’m feeling this morning and the relief I feel about the grace God has given me and the salvation He has provided.
Bear with me here….
Because the thing is, just as I’m so happy that I’m no longer running a fever and fearing that my airway might constrict completely (thanks to my 11th grade AP History professor, who loved to tell stories, including the one where George Washington died of a similar sore throat), I’m also grateful and relieved that the Lord has made a way for me to spend eternity in His presence, and that eventually all the worrisome things that take up so much of my time and energy here will be gone forever.
So you’d think that knowledge, that grace, should be sufficient. And, technically speaking, that grace IS sufficient.
But we forget. Life creeps up on us, pulls the rug out from under us and looms over us and we forget just how amazing heaven will be, just how amazing God’s grace is. Our focus gets distracted off the prize. Like Peter, we look at the waves around us and sink. Just as I know that today, if I get up again and try to clean that kitchen, I will probably forget that feeling of relief I had upon waking, because I will overdo it and start feeling awful again.
So before I forget, I want to capture that feeling of relief. I want to remind myself how, despite still feeling pretty sick, I could take stock of the situation and say, “Hey, I feel pretty good!”
So that when I get back to those 99 problems, I will remember that grace. Not in an “oh but it could be so much worse” kind of way, which is a tepid kind of comfort at best, but in true gratitude, wonder and relief.
So that on those days when I feel under water, when the balls are flying faster than I can juggle and the past rears its head to remind me of unresolved wounds and the future begins to look uncertain and bleak, I can stop and remember that these are really, REALLY, light and momentary troubles. That they are not the point. They are not all there is. They are simply the rocks and quagmires along the path I’m traveling.