Sunday, February 13, 2011

In sickness and health

I spent half of January and the first week of February engaged in an off-and-on battle with sickness. Twice I thought I'd won, thought I was on the mend, only to overexert myself and wind up back on the couch with my husband bringing me pots of hot tea.

Finally, during the third week when I grew more miserable with each day, I broke down and called my doctor. She diagnosed me with a sinus infection, wrote me a prescription, and sent me on my way. Within a couple days, I felt significantly better.

It occurred to me, when it became clear the antibiotic was doing it's thang, that I'd had no personal control over my health. I couldn't "will" myself to be better. I'd needed help.

And it's the same way with sin.

In Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster calls attention to Isaiah 57:20. "The wicked are like the tossing sea; for it cannot rest, and its waters toss up mire and dirt." Foster says, "The sea does not need to do anything special to produce mire and dirt; that is the result of its natural motions. This is also true of us when we are under the condition of sin. The natural motions of our lives produce mire and dirt. Sin is part of the internal structure of our lives. No special effort is needed to produce it."

The sin is a part of me. I can ignore it, I can deny it, but it's still there. Same as three weeks ago when I noticed my throat getting scratchy and thought, "Maybe if I ignore it, it'll go away." Ignoring it did nothing.

We can't will away our sin. To be made healthy, we need God's help. But there are things we can do to promote our soul's health, same as getting plenty of rest and drinking lots of water helps our physical bodies.

Prayer and Bible reading are a good place to start. I don't want to diminish the importance of those. But they're the first steps of action we jump to when we think about turning to God, so I want to suggest two other things that I think greatly benefit our soul's health, two things that I'm reluctantly practicing:

1. Not having to have my own way.

This has been one of the hardest disciplines for me to work on. Most the time, I'm convinced my way is the right way to do things. Like, we should go out for Italian tonight because we had Chinese last time. Or, no we shouldn't agree to do such-and-such event because we already have three other things going on that weekend.

While I might say things like, "Let's compromise," or, "Okay, we can do what you want," my actions often don't line up with my words. Yeah, we can do what you want ... but you're gonna know the whole time that it's not what I want to be doing.

And if it doesn't work out, I might not say the words, "I told you so," but you'll be able to sense them radiating off me.

When I practice having a good attitude about not getting my way, something magical happens in my soul.

2. Admitting I can't do it alone.

I find I'm (mostly) fine doing something that serves someone else. I'm glad to take a meal to someone who's just had a baby or pick up milk for my brother-in-law if I'm at Costco. I like doing these things. Makes me feel good.

But what happens when I'm sick and someone offers to bring me dinner? Or when my brother-in-law asks if I need anything from Costco? My first instinct is, "No, I'm fine, but thanks."

I don't like admitting that my energy, my health, my will power, my anything isn't sufficient to see me through. I don't want to need help. Or rather, I simply don't want to need.

For the last three weeks, I relied on my husband to make dinner, care for the kids, and keep the house clean. It was humbling to see how well he manages tasks that usually fall to me. I appreciated it, but I didn't like it. I didn't like having to ask grandparents to come over and watch the kids so I could lie on the couch. I appreciated them, but I didn't like it.

Admitting my deficiencies and allowing those in my community to serve me is a humbling task. And I know I need humbling.

I'm healthy now, but I'm thankful for the three-week-long reminder that even when my body is operating as intended, I still desperately need God's healing for my soul.

Stephanie Morrill is a twenty-something living in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and two kids. Her only talents are reading, writing, and drinking coffee, so career options were somewhat limited. Fortunately, she discovered a passion for young adult novels a few years ago and has been writing them ever since. Stephanie is the author of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series and is currently working on other young adult projects. To check out her blog and read samples of her books, check out and


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much! I've been going through the exact same thing where I'd just forget about God. My friends and I have been having some disagreements about some things, and I was getting so angry with them; I feel so bad now, even ashamed, and apologized.

I wrote this list of things I had to get done at a certain time and was getting stressed out, so I had to keep reminding myself of 1Peter 5:6-7 and writing if to myself, or I'd get too stressed to get anything done.

Emii said...

Wow, that's a really good post. And we just spent two hours at school talking about health -- spiritual, mental, social, physical and... oh, what was it? I'll get back to you on that one. But that is just so true.

Stephanie Morrill said...

"Anonymous," what wonderful verses to keep in mind. Thank you for sharing!