I went to Nashville two weeks ago to visit my sister and she basically got the flu the second I landed and felt better the second my plane took off to return to Dallas. Miraculously, I did not catch her bug, although I doted on her like a mother hen and bought the second season of My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding so we could watch more of Pat Baby and his 16 year old daughter who’s “searching for a husband”.
This week, however, I’ve been battling a cold. I haven’t taken any medicine to ease my symptoms, but instead, I’ve been dosing myself with a steady stream (pun intended) of netipots and Emergen-C. I even offered to demonstrate how to use the netipot to my two Taiwanese friends and they laughed at me, the jerks.
This cold has helped me appreciate how much I appreciate being able to breathe through my nose. It’s no fun to sit on the couch and breathe through my mouth like a neanderthal. As I come out the other side of it, I am so much more appreciative of how healthy we usually are.
It’s funny to me how my nasal passages draw a direct correlation to my spiritual life. You see, I’m fiercely independent and I get in these funks where I only want to do things by myself or not at all. My spiritual life suffers.
It’s no surprise to anyone that our adoptions have not gone the way we have wanted them to, which is a joke because, well, it’s adoption and it’s hard and bureaucratic and messy. Slowly but surely, I threw a spiritual temper tantrum and tried to rip control of my life away from God. The more I took from Him, the less connected I am from the Father.
I always find the post-frozen-wasteland of your spiritual life hard because it requires that all important emotion of humility. I also think that Satan lays it on pretty thick during these times because it feels like waking up from a really long nap. You know you need to get up; you want to get up; but your body’s natural inclination is to stay in bed because you’ve been down for so long.
I’ve been reading about the woman at the well. I love all stories of Jesus’s interaction with women because he was a total stud whose level of courtesy towards women would have fit in at A&M. I really like this story because Jesus and the woman, let’s call her Marge, are both sassy to each other.
For those of you that don’t know (you can read the story here), Marge was living with a man she was not married to and had been married five times. In her culture, she was labeled a harlot, probably a reputation that was so ingrained it was inescapable. When she meets Jesus at the well and he talks to her, she shows her surprise by (probably) doing a double take and asking the Samaritan equivalent of, “Are you talkin’ to me?” Then Jesus tells her about living water and she sasses him by asking if he’s as great as Jacob. Jesus then tells her that he knows about her tawdry past, reveals his true identity as the Messiah, and offers Marge a clean slate and eternal life. Her cold heart was thawed and she was welcomed back into society because the Messiah had offered her a second chance (and a third, a fourth, and so on). She had been forgiven and she was made new.
As my cold heart starts to thaw after a time in the spiritual wasteland, I slink back into God’s presence like Gracie when she’s chewed on something she’s not supposed to. The shame and self-loathing can get pretty high during this time, but God has put into place pretty good countermeasures against those destructive emotions. Grace, comes to mind, along with love, forgiveness, and mercy. He rejoices when his prodigal daughter returns to Him.
We talk alot with our international students about why God chose to give us free will. “Why let us choose to be bad? Why not just make us be good?” they ask. Our answer is always the same. God didn’t want robots who were programmed to love Him, because that love isn’t real. Only when you choose to love someone does it really make sense. Also, I think God has made good use of our tendency to wander. As we find our way back into His presence, His forgiveness shines a little brighter, His love a little warmer, and His grace a little sweeter.
So, cold heart, why don’t you stick that in your spiritual neti-pot and drain your sinuses?