Today marks my fourth straight day of exile. I have been lurching groggily through the chambers of Castle Dean.
I first started feeling weak on Wednesday afternoon. I was coughing a bit, feeling stuff, and knew what was coming. Thursday I went to my first class, then skipped the next two to go home and rest. By that time I was feeling like a zombie and coughing hard. Friday was an all-out assault against my immune system. Coughing up phlegm, vomiting, fever, and stuffy…symptoms of a healthy lad.
Yesterday I finally felt a bit better, so I accompanied my mom last night as she picked up Shari from the airport for me. Mistake. By the time I got in bed, I realized that I was in for a long night. Sure enough, I woke up this morning feeling worse than I have this entire time.
Word of wisdom for the afflicted: DON’T RUSH THINGS!
So tonight I’m going to sit at home and try to watch church online (at http://www.POBC.cc), wishing I was there. I could really use a good service.
It’s when I’m sick and staying by myself that I start reflecting a bit too much. When you’re sick for any prolonged period of time, it’s easy to think negative thoughts. I’m a pessimist by nature anyways, so being sick gives me plenty of time to assess all of my weaknesses and the many goals that I set for myself that I haven’t reached.
This isn’t a plea for pity; far from it, in fact. I think most people have two sets of goals. First, they have the attainable goals that they share with others and expect to achieve with minimal difficulty. Second, they have the lofty goals that will likely take months or years to fulfill, and they rarely share these goals with others. I think I’ve set a few too many of the lofty variety.
That being said, there’s always a point when I’m swept around by the misery that suddenly I “come to myself.” This is where I’m beating myself up over not having reached a particular expectation. Usually I wind up praying and apologizing to God for taking my sweet time. Then suddenly it’s as if the burden of responsibility is lifted for a moment while God says in a not-so-audible but distinct way, “It’s okay. You’re getting there, and I’m here with you through it all.”
When I first prayed through, I couldn’t shake the depression that had been part of my life for years. A friend of mine reminded me of a scripture, Psalm 34:18, that says, “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.” (NKJV).
For years I’ve found that to be true. When I’m at my absolute worst and so overly self-critical that I can barely shake myself out of this pitiful mood, or when I’ve been attacked with no end in sight, I’ve thrown myself at that scripture, and I promise you it’s worked every single time. I pray it. I “remind” God of it. And every single time, the weight is lifted. It’s not gone, exactly, but the heaviness becomes manageable and I can see a glimmer of hope.
I think that’s why the most captivating expression that I can see in the life of a Christian is compassion. When someone is going through a painful time, it should hurt us. When someone is sick, we should be moved by empathy into action.
Perhaps we’re most like God when we cast aside the callousness that this world generates within us all and find it within ourselves to hurt when another hurts, and to give them what is perhaps the hardest thing to see when person finds his or herself alone: hope.
I didn’t mean to turn this post into a sermon. I guess that’s just what happens when your heart is at church but your body is filled with Aleve Cold & Sinus and Chloraseptic.