One early memory verse in my Christian life was: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
I cannot underscore enough how much I am totally dismal at “be still.” And yet? I have been sick four times in the past three-and-a-half months, plus I was stuck in bed being very quiet for a full month with a broken shoulder that is still mending. One dear friend once said something to the effect that I live life to the fullest better than anyone else she knows. I love life, and I love life from having faced death so often for so long. I love God, and I live to serve him with gratitude, love, compassion, creativity, imagination…and dynamic (fiercely dynamic) energy. Soli Deo Gloria are great words to live by and to build life on. Sometimes I serve quietly, but I’m nothing if not a force of nature (even if that force of nature manifests as a presence of peace).
All of which — for good or for ill (probably ill) — leads me to draw lines and equate my utility with my worth. Thus, because I’ve spent better than two-thirds of 2013 stuck in bed? I’m going nuts.
I was actually supposed to begin my upper-division requirements for a degree in Theological Studies (to finish undergrad to prep for seminary) at an amazing (and prestigious) university in Los Angeles a couple of months ago — but, of course, the accident messed up everything, and unless I can find a cosigner for the private loans to cover living expenses (almost everything else is covered) I’ll be stuck out of school (but perpetually knocking on that door) for years until I can build enough credit to qualify for loans myself. This is the most frustrating thing that has ever happened to me, and feels like absolute failure given how many doors I watched God swing wide to bring me to that place. I’m not giving up, but I can’t fix this.
I read, I write, I try to keep in-touch. I pray, I encourage. I do what I can from afar. It is really hard to feel “useful” or “needed” with one arm, or when helping me requires so much from those I love.
Cold weather, poor health, limited funds for “fun” transportation has kept me off the Metro and home more than out in the world, but I can’t help but think that every day I don’t get out of bed or don’t walk out my door is a day wasted for the Lord’s service, that somehow I am missing divine appointments by cutting myself off from humanity. There is so much need and so many broken people in the city…surely even the smallest kindness to acknowledge the forgotten and marginalized makes a difference in the balance of eternity for all involved — what can I say about the days I keep my bright smile indoors?
All I have is my words, are my words enough?
So this week it is the flu…and I’ve cleared my schedule and quarantined myself from friends, relatives, church family until at least next Wednesday. My immunity at this point is shot to hell, and all I can do is “be”…and be quiet…and pray…and read. In lucid moments I write. I barely sleep. I’ve been drowning myself in juice and Vitamin C in a desperate attempt to flush my ravaged system and clear my head. I honestly don’t remember the last time an illness hit me so hard instantaneously. I joke that when I am sick I’m a “germ factory,” but this is “germ factory” on the level of a germ warfare machine (impressive, but to no good end!).
Enough is enough.
I was blessed for a season to be called as a hospice volunteer to visit hospice patients (as I have faced death I do not fear it, so hospice is actually a very good fit for me in a lot of ways). My longest-lived patient had severe dementia and congestive heart failure — he was dying by inches, and he was dying by inches nearly alone. I remember one of his more lucid afternoons he commented how hard it was to be a blob.
I’m not a blob, but I definitely have days when I feel like one.
I have a window, a window that overlooks an alley and the street. There is an auto body shop across the street. People pass, children pass, dogs pass, cars and trucks pass. I’ve memorized the trees and rejoice when pigeons fly close. I have the guinea pigs. Most days this is my world, confined to a 7’×9′ store room with no TV, no radio, no movies…just books and the internet…and God…and my thoughts.
The husband of someone I know from church asked me last Sunday how in the world I know so much [about the Bible and theology], did I study it at university? I blurted out what is — basically — the truth: that I’ve spent much of my life in solitary confinement reading and writing too much.
I’m there again. If St. Val wasn’t eccentric enough to begin with, she’s certainly moreso now.
So much is swirling about what to do with myself, with my life, how to manage, how to get by, what’s next…
I only wish I knew…but for now the only thing in the world I can do?