Friday, February 29, 2008

Abi's Lent: Day 24 ... and more of the flu

Warning ... delirium-induced rambling transparency ahead!

When it takes a good eight days for a bug to wear me down with interrupted sleep and nausea before it pounces on the respiratory tract, it just is not good, friends. That means the already waaaay sleep deprived, fledgling adrenals dead tired Abbess feels like she's been hit with a Mack truck.

In these moments, and I have experienced this, maybe, 10 times in my life, my coping mechanisms are overwhelmed. I get to the end of my rope... and just free fall into Papa's hands -- just can't even hang on. I pray all the prayers and do all the things I can to cooperation with my body. And then it just is what it is. Fortunately I can type even when mostly dead ... God must want me to share this suffering.

I have to try especially hard to keep from crying, because that increases my congestion by I don't even know what magnitude. I am desperate just to lay down and stretch out ... but then I cannot breathe and begin to cough if I try to breathe through my mouth. I am weary of 10 days of sitting up trying to sleep. I understand why thin folks succumb to these kinds of illnesses ... I'll be grateful for those extra pounds when I'm a little more coherent. ;^)

... I am reminded of feelings expressed by Job and David, even though my circumstance is not theirs. This does not mean, however, that my situation is not real and my desperation false. And this bit of purple wallowing has an important point in line with today's chapter ... so let's get on with it.

Chapter 15 in The Jesus Creed is called A Society for Justice. Big topic ... not gonna scratch the surface! But talking about justice sends me racing back to The Shack, for I believe the truth revealed about justice is one of the most important things Young offers his readers.

Scot defines justice as making things right -- as does Young. Justice is not about retribution but about reconciliation. About making everything work out for good. And it frequently looks and feels very unfair. Another paradox, eh?

Societal laws govern civil justice -- and I agree with Scot that our system is one of the best ones out there. The judges set penalties for those who break the law. That's not what we're talking about here. We're talking about Christ's Kingdom being for justice ... for making things right where we can -- loving God and loving others.

In the midst of my suffering, I know that God is at work at many different levels to bring about a work whose opportunity has arisen because of this illness. Papa is redeeming my pain rather than summarily relieving it. This is a very hard pill for us to swallow.

I believe the lesson he is reminding me about is how easily human Eikons fall into idolatry when it comes to those twin traps: ease and comfort.

We want to be comfortable -- at all cost. And we want to live a life of ease -- at all costs. This is certainly not the way of the Jesus Creed! Yet we have an amazing opportunity, as Scot highlights in the parable of the sheep and goats, to consider how many times we are acting like sheep and how many times little goaty horns can be seen creeping out our foreheads.

It falls to a single word: hospitality. There are many who have written about the demise of the art of hospitality over the past 100 years. I know there are many reasons for it, but I also know that it is possible to overcome it, if we're following Jesus.

I've made this challenge at other times in other venues, but I believe that one of the areas where we can make a difference is in loving others in the way they need to be loved -- not in the way that is most comfortable and easy for me. Gulp.

I've linked to this chart before, but I'll do it again in this context -- in the hopes that it might make better sense. What I do with this chart is take a lot of different actions that can be undertaken in a variety of settings -- with all of them helping us act our way into a new way of thinking. What is that thinking? Scot would call it the Jesus Creed. I would agree while widening the angle of the lens to include some help with the "how" of it.

The challenge is not that any of this information is news, the challenge is that we are beholden to our covenant brothers and sisters to come to their aid in their time of need, regardless of whether it is easy or comfortable to do so.

Now, the Abbess doesn't do guilt, so this is not about making you feel bad about stuff ... it is rather shared with you out of my suffering to encourage you to open your eyes to those in your path Jesus is asking for you to love like yourself.

My challenge is to be transparent with my family that I will not be able to get to the time when I'll be able to pull myself up by my bootstraps. Eight years of injury and weakness piling up has taken a toll. I have come to see the past four month's debilitating exhaustion (physical and mental) as my path toward recognizing this truth. The organizational queen will not be able to get her house in order. Her husband will not be able to add this task to his already full plate as Knight in Shining Armor. Her young boys are going to have to step up and begin to take responsibility for things.

They are fully capable ... but the idolatry of ease and comfort is second nature to them ;^) ....

It is a hard thing to tell your children then will have to step into Mom's shoes a bit and learn to do the laundry and the dishes and some more cooking and picking up their rooms and taking care of their trash. Definitely smacks of unfair -- at least to them! They are already bearing burdens from the emotional trauma of an unavailable mother ... sigh.

What does a Mom do who spends a good deal of her time in bed? She spends a lot of time yelling. :^( But I know that God is about to use this bit in our journey to make up for the past eight years, where these precious boys have run -- um -- a bit feral because their Mom was not able to give them the structure and consistence that requires running after them, physically restraining toddlers, playing at the park, having friends over for play dates...well the list is too long.

I'll tell you what she doesn't do. She doesn't need to have folks tell her it's just a terrible time with young children. That she just needs to get better organized. That it will pass soon enough. Each of these statements is a cop out to the idolatry of ease and comfort that peaks out with little goat horns ....

If there is someone in your sphere whose need seems, well, beyond meeting, do this. Stop and think about what it might be to live that life, not ponder how impossible it is for you to impact it with love. Get to know that person/family and get a real sense of what their needs are. And then ask God to show you how you can love them. Don't take on the world ... just the neighbor God puts in your path.

It is good to hear stories around of those who are living into the lives of others ... but there's plenty of heartbreak to go around.

Well, that's all folks ... I am grateful that Papa's love for me is strong enough to hold me even when I can't hold on.

In Papa's strong hands.


sonja said...

Here are some virtual hugs for you my dear sister ... I'm also sending prayers that you get some sleep tonight, or soon. Trying to sleep in an upright position is just horrid, and never works.

As for your house, have you ever heard of FlyLady? She's pretty cool ... her mantra is that we can do anything for 15 minutes. Her idea is that if we have routines established (everyone in the family) and do things in small bits it will get done. I've been following her in fits and starts for a couple of years. I won't say miracles have happened, but I'm doing better all the time. And ... her favorite color is purple!!

Brad said...

So, venerable Abbess. I'm with yuh ... and praying for ya'll. (Or is y'all the plural form of ya'll?)

Purple vulnerability continues, perhaps all desires to the contrary. But as you note, good is coming/will come of it. Sometimes I just find it so hard to think about getting from here to there, and so I sometimes have to declare "Bridge Days" when things are especially slow-motion and passion-drained. I don't like Bridge Days, but they are one of the necessary increments on the journey. We don't get to hop-skip-and-jump untold numbers of spaces ahead in the game of Life (unless of course, you are a particular childhood friend of mine who shall go unnamed, and who always cheated at the board game of Life and suddenly you'd find him ... umm ... like a full loop-in-the-road advanced from where you thought you recalled him being just one or two turns before ... but with just as many pegs in the car and cash on the side as before. Hmmmm???).

It's not just a journey we're on. It's an epic journey. I wonder if that's why we're drawn to extended adventures, like Lord of the Rings. We need to re-experience storylines where we know there is a good and just ending. If it can happen for Frodo, there is hope for us …

An apt analogy, as I'm watching the LOTR Trilogy (extended version, natch!) this weekend with a friend who has been trudging through his own purple martyrdom trail. I’ve seen the Trilogy, oh, at least 39 times, so #40 with a friend is a good way to sit in the ashes silently with a Job, to share the gift of presence.

Speaking of LOTR, remind the Brownling Boyz that Samwise carried his pots 'n' pans all the way to Mordor, which meant somebody was carrying, fill, and washing ’em, almost until the bitter end of all things. They’ll be okay … and there may be discomfort in the doing, it will comfort the one who now most needs her rest.

Hang in there, Peggy. And may you find some restoration in Rivendell …

KingJaymz said...

Hurting, be it physically, mentally or emotionally, is such a difficult place to constantly abide in. I've not walked your particular path, but I do get the meaning of your post.

Prayers and hugs for you.

AbiSomeone said...

Thank you, friends, for your kind thoughts and prayers.

Ran a fever of about 103 for most of the day and night. I was able to lay down last night, though I didn't get to sleep until about 3 am. Sigh. Fever broke this morning. We'll see if we are moving forward now or what. I am hopeful!

Sonja...gonna check out FlyLady.

Brad...the worst part of my illness is that it always hits my eyes, so I can't watch TV or read for long. Blessings as you watch LOTR with your suffering friend...look for me in Rivendell...the Last Homely Home would truly be the place to be! ;^)