God speaks to us in different ways. In the old days God spoke through donkeys and whispers and thunder. These days we have the Bible and pastors and things like that. But this week, God talked to me through the stomach flu.
I learned a lot of things. I learned it’s silly to worry about all the horrible things that can happen, because most don’t, and then others you never even imagined (like puking so much while you’re eight months pregnant you start having contractions and have to go to the hospital for fluids and meds…twice) – some things like these will happen whether you dreadfully anticipate them or not. But also I learned some things you fear aren’t actually all that horrible when they happen. Like the whole time I was sick I kept praying and worrying and hoping that Sam would NOT get my horrible sickness. And of course, he did, but unlike me, who in between pukes was shaking, and moaning, and confessing my last sins, and asking my husband for an ambulance, Sam was smiling, and congratulating me (with cheers and claps) for peeing in the potty. So, see, not as bad as I thought. I also learned that whoever those people were who invented that boring “BRAT” diet for recovering intestional victims, well, what they lacked for in creativity they probably made up for in wisdom. In other words, if three days after a stomach bug you want Chick-fil-a and Dairy Queen, just wait on that craving. You may be sorry. I will leave it at that.
But mostly during the Great Stomach Bug of ’11, I learned about love. And germs. Love and germs. See I had gotten it wrong. All this time I have been thinking that love HATES germs. Love protects right? Love cares for your family by washing the sheets frequently, by staying away from sick people, by santizing and chloroxing and pumping up with vitamin C. And, sometimes, I maintain, (especially in the face of people like my husband who so frequently remind me that we need germs and should be licking doorknobs and things like that) sometimes, love does do those things.
But to a point. This week, I was really pathetic. On top of needing someone to bring me ice chips and make me plain rice and help me up the stairs, I also needed help with Sam, a very big and very energetic almost two-year-old. And boy let me tell you. I am thankful for people who helped. I am thankful for a husband who slept on a hospital recliner and got up every time I was sick when all he could do was watch, and who still looked at me like I was his beautiful wife when I was eight months pregnant, with the stomach bug and hadn’t showered.
And I am thankful for my parents. Sam and I were both sick (proof that it was contagious) and both welcomed, loved, hugged, and cared for in their home. Not once did someone ask me if I washed my hands before grabbing those crackers, or switch out the nice living room blanket for an old one easier to wash, or go around after me with wipes and disinfecting spray. We were loved. Period. I know if it’s your family it’s easier, but I have to think at some point I would be tempted to invent an errand to get some fresh air, or get rid of the nice pillows off the couch, or subtly start wiping all hard surfaces with vinegar. But I never felt anything but loved and welcome. Simply put, I was treated like Jesus would have treated me. Which brings me to the lesson.
I don’t want to be sick. Worse, I don’t want Sam to be sick. I don’t want him to be around flu germs or cold germs or gross people or dirty people or people who aren’t clean and normal and un-needy and safe. But there are people out there who need me. Like a girl this week needed some help: the incapable, flu-carrying, can’t-even-get-her-own water eight months pregnant girl with a VERY energetic kid. Someone will need me like that, and I don’t want fear or selfishness to make me say no.
And now, God, since it’s clear that all of us here have learned all of our lessons, feel free to go ahead and let this be the fourth and final time I will wash germs out of our sheets and towels and off of our counters. You can feel free to go ahead and give us seasonal immunity from here on out. Just sayin.