Lessons from a Sick Day (or 2)
Emilie gets sick during her summer mission internship, surfacing both a desire to control, and also a great community of friends to come to the rescue.
At 7:20 a.m. this morning, almost two hours later than usual, I finally manage to drag myself out of bed. Bleary-eyed, I stumble down the hallway toward the kitchen with two things on my mind: I must eat breakfast so I can take my antibiotics, and then I must go to work.
I pass one of my housemates, Tonya Myers, in my search for breakfast. I cough, one of those deep, rattling coughs that accompany a sinus infection and bronchitis.
“Emilie, you sound like death,” she informs me matter-of-factly.
This being sick business frustrates me. I like to do my own work, and carry my own weight. If life was seen as a giant rock-climbing wall, I’m realizing that I like to be the climber who can reach down and give someone else a hand, not the climber who needs two extra hands and someone shoving from below to make it to the top. I like to do things on my own.
I’m coming to realize that I do this in my spiritual life as well. In my small group this past week, we were asked if there are things we do that increase or decrease the Holy Spirit’s influence upon our thoughts or actions.
Immediately, the first thing that came to my mind was my desire to do things on my own. If I am stubbornly relying on my own strength, the Holy Spirit cannot influence me because I am simply not willing to receive His direction. I have to be willing to give up control, get out of the way, and rely on Him before He can act.
Oftentimes, I forget the importance of relying on God (and on others) until my own strength is physically gone. I had every intention of staying healthy on project this summer. And yet, being sick has given me a completely different perspective, both on the community I’m surrounded by, and on my need to rely on that community.
From the morning I woke up not feeling well, people have come around me, helping to take care of me and pick up the slack I couldn’t carry. After seeing their willingness to step in and take care of me, I still find it amazing that my housemates and I only met 3 weeks ago. We’ve become a small family.
When I woke up feeling ill on Wednesday morning, my housemate, Rebekah Balciunas, made the necessary phone calls to get me excused from our activities for the day. Another housemate, Laura Preston, made me chamomile tea with honey. In the early afternoon, my discipler (mentor) for the summer, Amanda Starcher, called to see if I needed to go see a doctor. I decided to try to tough it out, hoping that if I rested for a day I’d be feeling better.
I made it in to work on Thursday morning to meet some deadlines, but was still feeling pretty sick. Before long, my sweet co-workers were helping me find a nearby urgent care, bringing me chicken soup, and sending me home to sleep for the afternoon. Friday brought more of the same. I made it in to work for the morning, and then went home to sleep for the afternoon, missing our outreach event that evening as well.
So, here’s to learning to give up control this summer. Learning to lean on those around me, to take the hands that are offered when I’m tired and can’t make it by myself. Learning to step out of the way and let God work.