Monday, December 21, 2009

Perspective

{Note: I wrote the bulk of this post a few days before Christmas but decided not to publish it right away because I was feeling pretty crappy and wanted to make sure I wasn't coming across as too whiny or negative}

It's been a rough couple weeks. Two weeks ago I came down with a nasty gastrointestinal flu (my third in a year, if you can believe it). Over a week ago I caught a cold that refuses to go away. I've had laryngitis for the past three days. It's been very discouraging: I haven't been able to visit with my in-laws (we've been in Louisiana since Saturday), and communicating at all has been a chore. I haven't been able to talk to my newly returned sister on the phone or sing Christmas carols. I know three days doesn't sound like a lot, but try going even one day without talking, especially when visiting family.

This morning (laryngitis, day 3) when I woke up, coughing and still completely aphonic, I was overcome by a feeling of despair. My voice was worse than ever. I couldn't keep the negative thoughts away: what if it doesn't get better until after Christmas? What if I'm not able to sing with my sisters when I get home? I felt helpless and hopeless. Matters didn't improve much when I looked in the mirror and saw the beginnings of two (two!) cold sores on my lower lip.

Despite my best efforts (involving copious amounts of ointment and several prayers), those two cold sores have swelled my lip to a size even Angelina Jolie would be jealous of. Anyway, a little later, as I looked at my caricature-like lips in the mirror, I had to smile (though it looked more like a grimace) in spite of myself. And, later still, when I was mostly done wallowing in self-pity, I started thinking about Mary.

I felt out of control and helpless in the face of, let's be honest, a mild illness a couple days before Christmas.

Mary, no matter how faithful and chosen and amazing she was, must have felt somewhat out of control and truly helpless when her labor started as she rode on a donkey far from home. That feeling must have mounted as she and Joseph reached Bethlehem--finally!--only to find that there was no room for them to stay, no place for her to deliver her child. And then, as her contractions intensified, realizing that she would give birth in a dirty stable, surrounded by animals. Talk about helpless and out of control.

I would imagine she had a few moments of despair; perhaps she even snapped at Joseph. But I also imagine she buckled down, made the best of a bad situation, and ultimately chose to trust the Lord. I imagine she handled the situation with grace.

I wish I could say that I handle sickness and trials with grace; I don't. Generally. (Though every once in a while I do surprise myself). So here's one more resolution for the 2010 list: Be a little more like Mary--"be it unto me according to thy word."

{Post-Note: I started getting my voice back the next day. Though it was still dry and somewhat scratchy, the planets aligned and miracles occurred and I sang with my sisters at my sister Sara's homecoming. Just one more ounce of proof that I need a couple more mustard seeds-worth of faith that God is mindful of me.}

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