Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Following from the Couch

Confession: I've been having elaborate fantasies late at night when I can't sleep. Usually it is about a brownie sundae: the feeling of the spoon as it glides through the melting vanilla ice cream on top, and then the weight of the fudgy brownie underneath; the combination of warm & cold, chewing together in my mouth.

Even worse, after a day of having nothing but crackers, grapes and smoothies, I fantasized about eating a slice of Costco cheese pizza: the slightly waxy texture of the cheese, and the tinny tang of the sauce. It just sounded so, so good.

I know, its pathetic-- maybe even sinful, but what's a [pregnant, sick & tired] girl gonna do?

The last few months have felt, well, a little bleak. I have spent the majority of first trimester of my pregnancy in a horizontal position-- either on the couch (watching our lil' one play with his trains in the living room), laying on the floor (watching our lil' one play trains in his bedroom), or laying in bed (either passed out, nauseated, or fantasizing about pizza). I can barely eat, and (being hypoglycemic, and a big ball of hormones) I have the feeling that I might not always be the most charming person to be around.

It occurred to me, at some point along the way, that I was really just waiting for it to all be over-- and my waiting mostly involved scrolling through Facebook, fantasizing about the food I couldn't eat, and half-way listening to a toddler's conversation about Thomas the Tank Engine. I've been waiting, hoping & aching for a time when I could start living life again, start being useful, start participating in the universe around me, regain some of my worth and value.

I realized that so much of my faith, my identity, my life is based on action-- getting out there & doing something, or at least talking to people, and helping them to get out there & do something (I'm actually much better at that last part). And, of course, there's nothing wrong with that... but what happens when you simply can't get out there, or do anything. What happens when you can't even get out of bed, or change your kid's diapers, or keep thoughts in your head long enough to make any use out of them? Do you just wait it out until you can be of some use again, or is there life to be lived from the couch? Is there a way to live out your faith, to follow Jesus, to love, give, and experience life when you're just plain sick for months & months?

It has definitely been a huge lesson in receiving-- receiving help from others, receiving grace when I can't contribute anything, receiving love when I haven't done anything recently to deserve it. It's just plain hard to feel useless, and to know that nothing is going to change for a little while.

But I'm trying. My default discipline when I feel frustrated, mopey, or dissatisfied to is force myself to thank God for the things that I have in the moment. And let me tell you, it really helps to have been sick for weeks in a African refugee camp to give you a sense of gratitude for the rest of your life (thank you for indoor plumbing, thank you for clean water, etc).

My next question has been "What do you have for me in the moment, God?" I have a feeling there's more I can get out of this than the discipline of holding my breath & waiting for something better. Perhaps something along the lines of finding worth & identity in things other than my usefulness. Perhaps it's trusting God's plan for me in something unexpected, and undesired (we were in the process of adopting, so this pregnancy is still something I'm adjusting to).

The last part, I still haven't gotten very far with. My hope is to actually find God, and life, and hope and joy right here-- on the couch, nauseated and worn out and maybe even a little cranky. I believe its possible, but I confess that I haven't pursued it very well yet.

I'm still not sure what it looks like to follow Jesus from the couch. I secretly hope that I won't have too much longer to figure it out-- but I know that it is a question that will come up again in life, especially if (as I am discovering) much of my identity is wrapped up in what I do.

I know that they say that forming a baby is "doing" enough, but there's not much to show for it (yet), other than a growing belly, and a fridge full of ginger ale. It would be quite a task to discover Life right here in this place. As much as I want to resist it, I have the feeling it is my job during this season to make that discovery... and, strangely, it seems like an important job.

1 comment:

Samantha said...

As always, thanks for your vulnerability, Christine! This sounds like a tough season but really valuable things to think through as far as worth and what it looks like to follow Him. It's big piece of force-fed humble pie to be incapacitated, isn't it? But we can trust God is good and intentional even when leading us through a season on the couch... praying for you!