The (un)fortunate thing about seriously trying to let God lead you in your blog is that you often go directions you don’t necessarily like. This week, there were lots of things that would be good for my Friday musing; I could tell you about my first Sunday school class, or the beginning of a new semester, or the steps toward realization of seminary I seem to be taking, or the church conference I’ve fallen into tomorrow, or the opera I saw on Wednesday that made me feel human again, or my childlike aversion to taking down Christmas trees. Instead, apparently, I’m supposed to be meditating on my cold.
I realize that this sounds like a Twitter feed now; “OMG, PB&J for lunch almost makes up for having a cold!” I promise, I won’t go there, not least because I find Twitter and its ilk to be absolutely incomprehensible. No, I don’t care what you’re doing right now. If I did, I would call you and ask, as friends should.
But the cold seems to be what God wants me to focus on, so the cold it shall be. I can’t shake it; I’ve had it for almost two weeks now, which is unusual even for someone who spent the vast majority of the first decade of life in some degree of illness. And it’s driving me nuts; I applaud doctors, because what the body does to try and re-balance itself grosses me out. I sound like a broken foghorn, my singing voice is all out of whack, I could buy stock in Kleenex, and I’m out of orange juice just when buying more could apparently kill me.
But what does this have to do with my spiritual life? With yours? With anything other than trying not to sound like warm death when I teach? Perhaps it is the banality, the grossness, the absurdity of it. I will admit this to the Intarwebs At Large: when I get sick, I am utterly pathetic. The first few days of being sick find me looking somewhat like a half-drowned cat with the mobile power of a drunk sloth, which is maddening for someone who is very independent and hesitant to rely on others for, well, anything.
There it is. One of the things that’s been really interesting during this cold is that I have indeed had help; one friend let me die on her couch for a day while we had a movie marathon and she cooked me dinner. Another friend stayed with me during a nosebleed and then insisted that she drive me home after so that I could recoup my strength. And tons of people keep asking me how I’m feeling, genuinely concerned about whether or not I’m making health progress—and I’m pretty sure it’s not just out of a desire for me to get better so I don’t make them sick anytime soon.
I’m not at all recommending that you all go out and find yourselves a strain of the common cold to cozy up with for a couple of weeks (although you’re more than welcome to mine if you promise it won’t come home to me). But I am suggesting that you—that I—pay attention to the people around you. True friends are a gift, and apparently it takes knocking me off my healthy little pedestal for me to fully appreciate that sometimes. God is in the little things, yes, but He is also in the people, the gestures of love that remind me that I matter to others just as they matter to me. To receive that kind of concern surprises me, and I think it always will, and that’s a whole other conversation of my ideas about interpersonal relations, but the point is that God has surrounded me with people who give a damn.
That’s…that’s pretty cool.
I have one tattoo (*gasp!*) that says, simply, “Loved.” It was absolutely necessary when I got it, and I’ve not regretted it yet. But even though it’s literally ingrained into my skin, I forget it a lot. It’s much easier, in a way, to think that I’m doing this by myself, just slipping in and out of others’ lives, out of mind when out of sight. And then I get a cold that won’t leave, and in the everyday concerns of common life, I see the uncommonly amazing face of God shining in the friends who won’t leave, either.
Lesson learned, Lord. Can I get better now?
It happened on one of those days, that he was teaching; and there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every village of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. The power of the Lord was with him to heal them. Behold, men brought a paralyzed man on a cot, and they sought to bring him in to lay before him. Not finding a way to bring him in because of the multitude, they went up to the housetop, and let him down through the tiles with his cot into the midst before Jesus. Seeing their faith, he said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” (Luke 5:17–26, WEB; emphasis mine)