Mono has all but killed me. Just kidding. But really, I never realized what it was like to “suffer” until I had so many blisters in my mouth and down my throat that I had intense pain while drinking water, with absolutely no relief. It has been miserable. Even more so, I have been confined to our little rent house going on three weeks solid. I have zero immune system right now, and folding laundry makes me miserably tired so driving to the store by myself is a near impossible feat.
I studied “rest” for weeks leading up to this illness. (the irony, I know) I studied the peace rest brings, how to Sabbath, what the importance was-the whole gamut. But putting it into practice? That’s another story.
You see, I have always been under the impression that really, when it came down to it, I could “think” my way out of a situation. A little determination goes a long way. And when Christmas Village is on the line-not to mention a job, piling laundry, a new home under construction, etc-I was bound and determined to “think” my way out of this-and if I couldn’t think it, well then I would just have to get up and do it. So I tried. I took the week off per the doctor’s orders-not to mention I had a 101-degree temperature and bleeding tonsils so I cut myself some slack. But the moment my fever broke and I swallowed that first strawberry-banana smoothie, I decided I was well and life could then resume.
Except I am still not well and life has not resumed. Despite my very best efforts and the resounding “I will be back Monday!” I just still can’t get up and go. I drink caffeine. I take naps. I force myself to get up and clean in hopes that “getting my strength back” will come, if by force if nothing else and though I am trying REALLY HARD, I still find myself crying on the bed-completely exhausted surrounded by half folded towels, dirty dishes, and a to-do list a mile long.
And the really terrible reality? The harder I try to force my strength back-to ignore the command to rest-to accomplish tasks while my joints still ache and my eyes remain heavy-the farther I set myself back from a full recovery.
So here I am. Home again. Writing, because what else can I do? Granted there are a million lessons and posts I could write about from this whole experience-and maybe once I have time to process them I will-but when you’re in the thick of something only the big things stick out.
So here’s what I’ve learned so far…
“He MAKES me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside STILL waters, He RESTORES my SOUL.”-Psalm 23: 2-3
Though I do not believe Jesus said to himself “Hmmm, I think I’ll let Bethany get mono to teach her a lesson”, I do believe he uses EVERYTHING to teach us for good. (Romans 8:28) And boy did this verse repeat over in my head the more I complained about not being able to “go and do” like everyone else.
Throughout this random illness-mind you that nobody in my sphere of family or friends has caught praise the Lord-the number one remedy has been rest. Now as much as I try to have a Sabbath attitude-rest is HARD for me. It does not come naturally. It is not my first thought. It is not something I allow for myself unless every task is accomplished. Even after a 7-week study on Sabbath, I constantly have to be in prayer over a Sabbath attitude because it is not a natural part of who I am. I am the most anxious person you will ever meet and my mind is constantly spinning as I process what is “next”. So I think in this time when my body has been so weak and so tired, the Lord has almost forced me to rest.
He has surrounded me with a community of people that have insisted that I rest. And in the moments when I couldn’t rest…. when my body was uncomfortable, the cough annoying, my head aching, my thoughts racing-Jesus himself sat up with me in our tiny living room and held me close as my puppies slept on my lap and stars twinkled above me. For hours. Until I finally gave in and dozed off asleep.
I think sometimes when life starts spinning out of control-because we have things under too much of our control (or so we think)-God allows unexpected, sometimes tragic events to teach us more about him and his love for us. And more often than not, those seasons require the busiest of us to stop. Be still. And rest.
And through that rest, in the busiest of seasons, the busiest of us learn that we do not hold the axis that the world spins upon after all.
Since I have been very young-and I’ve blogged on this many times-I have always felt my worth comes from what I can accomplish. Grades, singing, church, my job, etc-I tend to find my worth in my works. As an adult, the hardest thing for me is separating my worth from my work-most specifically my career.
I have always been very ambitious and career minded-so much so, I started college as a Pre-Law student and graduated in less than 3 and ½ years. After an internship, I decided law wasn’t my calling. The journey to finding my true career calling is still underway. Even 3 years later. But for the time being, I work as an Executive Assistant to our County Mayor. I get to write. I get to meet a lot of interesting people. The money is good and the commute is easy. It works for me and my season of life right now and I am thankful for the opportunity.
However, every single day, I scrutinize the tasks I’m given and my ability to preform them. I constantly worry if I have done enough. I constantly freak out over the slightest detail. I worry that in some way, though I try with everything that I have, that I am not quite up to par with how I should be. I work in politics-for politicians and often times worry that one day, if I do something wrong or make a Commissioner angry in any way, I’ll lose my job. And not just my job, but my reputation as a good employee. And then where will I go? What will I do? Can we continue to build our house? Will I ever get the chance to stay home and raise a family?
(The above is a literal freak out I had….today). For a former work-a-holic girl..the fear of underperforming, and above all, failing is worse than death. And yet, in these past three weeks of what I feel is a very elementary version of solitary confinement in a prison I made myself….God keeps whispering “Let it go. None of that matters”.
And in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t.
I’ve lived for two weeks knowing I’m not getting a paycheck. Knowing there is work on my desk. With a full inbox. Incomplete projects. Probably something I have missed. Assignments/ tasks I have fallen behind on and probably failed at. And somehow, by God’s grace, I woke up today and life is still moving forward.
And I’m okay. Jon and I are okay. Life is okay. Our finances are okay. The people in my office are okay. Wilson County Government is okay.
But even if I failed at work-lost my job-we had to stop building the house-life started falling a part at the seams-deep down, it would still be okay. Maybe not immediately. And for a long time, it may not feel like it, but it would be okay. And I think that’s the whole point of having a relationship with Christ.
Though salvation alone is more than we deserve, and God could have drawn the line there….I am learning that the blessing of having a true relationship with the One that makes it all okay is worth more than any amount of career success, financial stability or determination I can create with my own strength.
And to think that we don’t even have to work for it- instead, He simply calls us to surrender, be still and rest.