I’m writing from the confines of my bed today. Sick. I should have seen this coming.
On Christmas day Karen, and Finnden and I flew to the frozen tundra of Ohio, where we grew up. It was all snow and wind and biting cold, but we enjoyed the warmth and rest that comes from spending time with close family and good friends. It was far too short of a stay. On the second flight of our trip home neither Karen nor I were feeling our best, but we attributed it to the exhaustion of traveling with a toddler and the recycled air of the plane. The next day we were both holed up in our house with the curtains drawn nursing headaches, nausea, achiness and all the rest. It figures that the very day we were no longer under our parents’ roofs and care we came down with the flu.
And getting the flu with a one and a half year-old in the home is not even remotely the same as before that wonderful little man burst onto the scene. No staying in bed. No three-hour naps. No Project Runway marathons. No ice cream for dinner.
At the first sign of feeling better I was back at work, back into the daily routine, spreading the news that I was on the mend. And I was convinced of it too. I’m considerably less convinced now. See, I still had this nagging cough. And sometimes for an hour or two my whole body would ache, and it seemed to come from within my bones somehow. And then every once in awhile I’d find myself exhausted by the slightest exertion or I’d be hot and then suddenly chilled, clenching my jaw against the cold.
On Friday, after a particularly energy-sapping thirty-minute fit of coughing, I finally went to the doctor. His prognosis: “You’ve got some junk in your left lung.”
Antibiotics. An inhaler. And some other prescription, the purpose of which is a mystery to me.
Now, three days later, and there’s little to no improvement. Begrudgingly, I took a sick day today. Tomorrow I may be forced to do the same. I’m now convinced that what I most need is rest. I need to slow down, stop even. I need to allow my body to do it’s job without sabotaging the efforts halfway through.
And as I sit here I’m realizing that all of this is a grand metaphor for the state of my spiritual life.
This last year has been one of many changes. Upheavals. Goodbyes. New routines and responsibilities. Unfamiliar places. And in the midst of these adjustments my habit of sitting, reflecting on and processing all of it with the Spirit has all but disappeared. And yet I keep hearing God say to me, “Stop and reflect. Stop and reflect. Stop and reflect.” Over and over again. Because it’s only when I slow down and examine life—rather than just scurrying through it—that I’m able to hear from the Spirit and make connections and course-corrections and see His hand moving through all of it.
I know this week in Circles we’ve moved on to the task of speaking, but to be honest I’m still stuck on the last one. Listening. For me the real task at hand is finding the moments to slow down, stop even, and listen to the Holy Spirit rather than getting up and moving at the first sign of health—a convicting message, an amazing discussion, a good moment in the word. What I’ve realized is that being “quick to listen” means being hasty in slowing down, being abrupt in blocking out the world, being in a hurry to say “sshh” to all the noise the moment I hear the whisper of God.