It is an age-old mom challenge: Kids, Colds and Church.
Every year (it seems to get sooner and sooner) October and November begin the predictable cycle of colds and sniffles. You know you can’t encapsulate your child in a germ-free bubble, though the idea does cross your mind every once in awhile. You even know that coming into contact with germs is a necessary to the function of the immune system.
Yet… that mothering/protective instinct comes out of you with force.
So Sunday, you decide to play it “safe” and keep your just-barely-sniffling two-year old home.
That very evening you are hit with the baffling irony… he is sick anyhow. Not only just a sniffly nose, but now he’s up at 11 coughing so hard it sounds like a dog barking. He can’t sleep, he’s tossing and turning and crying. You somehow unearth the Vicks VapoCream with sleep crusted eyes while trying to calm a flailing child.
The cream is a godsend, however, an unfortunate side-effect is that it chills whatever skin it comes in contact with. As he begins to relax and breathe deeply, you realize that your arm (now chilled from the cream) is stuck under his head as he lays next to you. You silently debate with yourself the pros and cons of moving your arm thus waking up the sleeping toddler or having a very cold and now numb arm for an undetermined span of time. The debate ends with you dozing on and off as he moves in his sleep.
Finally, at 12:30 you come to grips with the fact that if you do not move this child back to his bed, your body (and mind, for that matter) will be very upset with you the next morning. Your family and your day require your A-Game - whether you have it or not.
So, after he’s sleeping soundly in his bed, you manage to reclaim the last 6 hours of your nights sleep. Your body (and mind) thank you! And… you thank your husband as he gets cereal out for the munchkins and heads off to work.
The rub comes as you launch into your week without the benefit of being with the Body… again. Not standing with your family of believers and praising God for who He is - nevermind hearing the Word spoken and taught, receiving the challenge and applying it to your own life - you feel like you're close to empty.
Studying theology for four years, learning how to take the Word apart and see the intricacies of the ancient languages and the understanding and beauty they bring to the text make being content with only having time to read a paragraph or two very difficult. This too shall pass, you know this. It’s just a season and the demands on your time will change. Still, it’s frustrating to know how to chew steak but have to settle for a granola bar. Both are good for you, but you need a whole lot more time for the one.
Missing church and having to stay home with a sick child added to the demands of a family and you have all the ingredients for a dive into selfishness and ingratitude. Not to mention self-pity.
You try all sorts of mind tricks (“it could be worse”, “someone else has a much harder life than me”, “it will be better tomorrow”) to keep yourself thinking right, but you find in the end (as all of the previous thoughts go south) that it is only consciously choosing thankfulness at all times that will keep you on the sane side of the highway.
Every single one of us has a story and history. Each one is filled with situations that would be easy to see as terrible and ugly, even to question why God allowed it. Choosing thankfulness would be the equivalent of climbing Mt Everest. Really?! How in the world can I see this as a good thing? Just can’t do it. No way. No how.
But God knows our frame. He knows we are just dust. When we make that heavy choice to look at our past and present circumstances and choose to be grateful, He hears His child loving Him more than the irritation and hurt… more than the pain… more than gloomy feelings… more than herself.
He knows our hearts and even if we are not fully thankful for the things that drive us nuts, He knows we want to please Him. That small choice to be thankful for the setting sun while the children fight over who gets which stool will not escape His notice.
Thankfulness leads to Joy – not happiness – but true Joy in the Creator of the Universe who made me and knows me and loves me still.
When you are thankful, you will find joy blooming where before there was only a desert.
Will you join me in this? Look back over your past, see His gracious good gifts in the hard things, and see how He is shaping you in the present daily trials.
Oh... and by the way.... today this writer is thankful for Vicks VapoRub Cream!