Thursday, February 26, 2009

Emerging from the pit...

Or, as Laura would call it, My new lease on life...

I suppose you could say I'm a pretty stubborn person. Yeah. I think that could be said of me. I most definitely know that I like to be in control. Anyone who has ever experienced my need to drive a car would understand that. Generally I feel myself to be competent, capable, and reliable. Especially as a student and an employee. I just don't miss days of work or class. Unless I am struck by the hand of God that is.
I'm not sure how early on I noticed that, whenever He decided He'd had about enough of me doing everything on my own God would strike me down. I'd call it a coincidence, or a normal occurrence that happens to everyone if I could. But it never really seems to be like that with me. And usually there is some lesson I should be learning. Whether that lesson is simply that I need to hold still every now and again, or something bigger, deeper, more severe like the fact that I need to accept my own inability to do EVERYTHING for myself. The latter seems to have been the case in my current moment of distress.
You might think I'm exaggerating when I say that I'm struck down by God. Maybe that even seems a bit proud. I'm so big and important that in order to stop me God must reach down and whack me up side the head. But if you look at the facts, you'll see that it makes some sense.
We can start with my high school trip to Italy for example. Here I was, on a mission trip, determined to work harder and better than anyone. I knew I could do it all after all. I was ready, willing and able to take on whatever task God set before me. I was determined to be a master builder and to carry the biggest bags of cement. Consequently, I pretty much had no voice for the entire trip. I'm not sure if it was exactly bronchitis, but it was definitely something of that variety. And no one else had a problem. Granted, most of the time I "suffered on" and still worked, until it would be so severe that I'd be quarantined by my leaders and forced to spend the day working on my team journal.
We move on now to my college years during which I developed a bizarre stomach problem. I'd wake up in the wee hours of the morning feeling like small needles were trying to explode out of the walls of my stomach. I'd then proceed to spend the next several days puking my guts out (sometimes even while attending class!) until whatever it was finally decided to leave my system.
Let me note here where my stubbornness and survival instincts kick in. There's this small part somewhere in your brain (some memory tells me its at the base, but not being a brain expert I won't try to give it a name as most recollection of science classes has merely become a blur in the distant and forgotten past) which controls your ability to keep pressing on despite all common sense. This part of my brain seems to be highly developed and tends to cause me to forget all reason. When normal people would accept the fact they are sick, and therefore would take it easy, I continue going to class or work until some higher power (teacher,boss,etc) tells me to "go home!" in no uncertain terms. Case in point, I was in the middle of a Geography test my sophomore year of college, leaving every few minutes to go to the bathroom and barf my guts up, when dear wise Professor Dummer came to me and said, "Sarah, what are you doing?" Naturally I responded with, "I'm taking a test. I just keep having to puke, but it's okay." Obviously it was NOT okay, and he told me to go home at once. I'll spare you any more details.
But when one spends a considerable amount of time on the cold bathroom floor curled up around the toilet it does make them examine their lives just a bit. And, as has often been the case, I've been left in such situations realizing that I am not in control ultimately. And I really can't do it all.
Hong Kong was filled with such moments of clarity. I got a concussion in the hospital, fell down slippery stairs and couldn't move my arm (which obviously meant no holding babies) for a week, and contracted the Chicken Pox without ever knowing anyone else who had the Chicken Pox. Let the record here state that getting the Chicken Pox when you're 25 is NOT a good plan.
I've come to accept the fact that, when I least expect it, God is likely to hole me up in a bed to think about my life and accept the fact that He is still God. Not me. Not in the slightest.
All this to say, last week God spoke in a rather loud voice. It started out with a cough that felt like icy fire burning through my chest on Tuesday afternoon. I'm well accustomed to coughing issues, and figured it would just go away. Wednesday morning, however, I felt as though I'd been run over by a truck. Still, I managed to drag myself to school to teach. Fortunately I only had two classes that day, and Jarmila quickly noticed that I was NOT doing okay.
Normally there really is no way to get a day off here at Winfield. We have a very small staff, and there just isn't anyone to cover. Somehow, however, that turned out not to be the case this week. On my busiest day of work, I was suddenly overwhelmed to discover that there were people to take every single one of my classes. I went from the prospect of teaching for 8 hours to not having to teach at all. And it was a good thing too, because just sending out texts to the people in question was enough to have my head spinning.
I really couldn't begin to tell you what sort of illness afflicted me last week. It wasn't exactly what I'd call the flu. It started with the cough, and turned into the inability to open my eyes, let alone get out of bed. I spent all day Thursday flat on my back in bed, unable to even focus on a movie at one sitting. I slept pretty much all day (I sort of like to blame this on Kelly, my ESI boss, who prayed last weekend that I'd be able to get some sleep). Friday, Saturday, and Sunday all found me curled up in my little pink cave of a bed.
It's amazing what 4 days in a bed can do to a person. By the end of it I felt frightened by the outside world, unsure if I would know how to deal with it when forced to emerge. I missed the 3rd movie/dinner party that was originally supposed to be held in my flat, and also the One Night Band show. I didn't even have the energy to walk downstairs. I really haven't been that sick since the Chicken Pox almost 5 years ago.
And during that time God did take His chance to speak. And what did He say? Well, basically He reminded me that I am small and weak and not really in control at all. Things that should seem like basic principles, but that seem to be incredibly difficult for me to grasp.
Monday rolled around surprisingly soon. There was no more hiding from the fact that I would have to go back to work. While things had almost magically fallen in place for me to have Thursday and Friday off, there was no escaping my responsibilities on Monday. After four days during which just taking a shower was enough to induce the need for a serious nap, the prospect of walking all the way up the square and to my office was hugely daunting. I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that I would need God every step of the way. Without Him, it wouldn't be possible.
The thing is, that's the truth every day. And ultimately I think that's what He was getting at with this whole deathly ill business. So often I get caught up in my own abilities. He has, after all, made me a fairly capable person. I've managed to travel a considerable amount of the world and do a large number of different jobs, all requiring very different skills. But really, I couldn't do any of it without Him.
Surviving Monday was tough, but with His strength I managed. Tuesday was a little easier, and by yesterday I actually managed to stand up during class. Today I'm almost back to normal. I'm still not really up to eating much, and just thinking that I have to teach 8 hours today makes me want to take a nap a little bit, but I'll live after all. And joy of all joys, Spring Break is just a couple of days away, and with it comes my trip to Berlin!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Glad your back. Sorry you have been so sick and didn't have your mom to take care of you. I have been checking everyday.