I spent last weekend in a very unique position. Lying on the couch.
Some mutant germ got into my system and did what few microbes can claim – it got Mamma sick. Not just sniffles or a headache, but too-sick-to-move, skin hurts, pneumonia-kind of sick. I thought about going to the ER to look into getting medicine capable of resurrection, but decided against it. Mostly, because that would have required moving.
My kids realized the gravity of the situation when supper time rolled around and I didn’t budge. Concerned, my eight year old took matters into his own hands. He handed the fussing baby to me to nurse and went into the kitchen and cooked dinner. He made scrambled eggs for the four oldest, which everyone inhaled, along with some yogurt and a bowl of clementines. And then he surveyed the pile of dishes, grubby toddlers, and cluttered floor, and did what any logical child would. He called in grandma.
A few minutes later, grandma floated in, like an angel of mercy in her muddy garden boots. She took the baby from my limp grasp, and single-handedly managed to clean up supper, children, and the floor in preparation for bedtime. I drooled numbly on the sofa cushions, impressed in spite of my dazed self. Once a mom, always.
The rest of the week was equally rugged. Child after miserable child succumbed to high fevers and explosively upset stomachs. On top of it, Ben had surgery on Tuesday to loosen the tendons in his heels. (He had looked like a ballerina constantly pointing his toes. Not very manly.) I had thought it was a minor surgery, and even questioned the need for anesthesia at one point (since he has no functioning nerves in his lower legs, a medically-induced coma seemed rather excessive.) Apparently, it was a bigger process than I had anticipated. It resulted in full-leg casts on both legs. At least they made them red.
Anyway, it was not my favorite of weeks. But it wasn’t just because I spent some of it glued helplessly to the sofa, though I hated that part. And it wasn’t because I had to hand over my child to strangers to be cut and filled with strong drugs, though I hated that part too. And it wasn’t even because I spent a lot of time scrubbing the contents of my children’s stomachs off of the rugs and stairs and blankets and clothes throughout the house, though I hated that part also.
It was because I didn’t pray.
I didn’t completely forget to talk to God. Not totally. I did mumble here and there, “Please heal me, Lord… Please guide the doctor in surgery… Please protect my son… Please, please make these kids stop throwing up and let us all sleep tonight!” But it was that kind of popcorn praying, that filling up with empty calories that are, at best, just a vehicle to get salt into our mouths – or problems voiced and quickly shoved away. My prayers were cheap. Obligatory. Emotionless. I almost didn’t chew; just shoveled the popcorn in quick and took no time to savor.
I should have. I had the time. As I lay lifeless on the couch, necessarily putting down my to-do list and homeschool plans and even every movement but the barest of required ones, I had the time to pray. And as I sat in the waiting room while my son slept in surgery, I had time to pray. And as each of my children’s bodies waged war against the ruthless germs in their bloodstreams, we set aside our regular school work and chores and errands, and life screeched to a halt. All week, we had time to pray.
But I didn’t.
I shut down. I didn’t want to feel or think or be thankful. I felt more like the seven dwarfs than Snow White. I was grumpy, sneezy, dopey and withdrawn (I’m pretty sure that’s one of them.) I wasn’t looking for a great conversation with a handsome prince. I was playing hermit in my own little world, willing to live with cobwebs in the corners and darkness in my soul rather than venture out into the revealing sunshine and gaze into the wishing well where hope swirled fresh.
I identified with the bad guy of Psalm 109. Rather than being “given to prayer” as the writer was, I was the enemy, “clothing himself with cursing.” I wasn’t just sporting old yoga pants and wrinkled tee shirt. I had covered myself in frumpy grumbles. It was decidedly unattractive.
Once I realized it, the week started to turn around. I tried to be a little more thankful. I purposed to praise in the little moments. When the baby woke too early, snuffly and hot with fever, I recognized it as a moment to spend in prayer rather than be grumpy about sleep lost. He snuggled against me as I sat with with my Bible and a warm mug of coffee. And I counted my blessings.
After Ben got casts over his thighs, I was feeling grouchy. It was difficult for him to pull his encased lower body around on the floor, and he was heavy to carry. The wheelchair he had been using was helpful, but he always got it caught on the door jams and it kept him restrained in a cumbersome harness. By coincidence or design, the wheelchair guy called the next morning. Surprise! His new chair was ready! Sleek, well balanced, and with more space for his thick casts, I couldn’t help notice the hand of God. And it was red. The boys were excited too. With two chairs in the house, now they could have wheelchair races.
Even though it rained a lot toward the end of the week, my outlook got brighter. Thankfulness was on my lips. Chicken soup simmered on the stove. The boys played quiet games and worked on lego projects while their bodies healed. I spent less time on Facebook and more time reading real books, my children snuggled around me. Mountains of laundry later, we felt a little less overwhelmed by germs and sickness. A peaceful thankfulness enveloped us instead.
The Lord has been mindful of us, He will bless those who fear the Lord, both small and great… Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. Psalm 115:13, 116:7