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ankles and serpents

Watering lawns can be hazardous to your health - just ask my husband. He fell off our budding new grass this week and broke his ankle. Strange as that may seem, it is true. Other contributing factors were darkness, uneven terrain, a 3-foot embankment of soggy clay, and khaki pants (they attract incidents involving dirt and mud).

Being the strong and easy-going guy that he is, he joked through most of the afternoon that we spent at the clinic and emergency room, spoke encouragingly to the resident that attended him, and gave the nurse a teasing hard time when she demanded he use a wheelchair. I cannot complain about his positive attitude towards this mishap and his calmness in the midst of it all. Nevertheless, after a long day at the hospital followed by a long evening when I tried to catch up with all my work and homework while tending to his few needs…I found myself in a complaining and whining state of mind. I felt bad that instead of supporting and caring for and nurturing the wounded one, I was irritable and terse and negative, even though I was not the one in pain! How selfish of me! Other contributing factors were lack of sleep and adequate food, plus the draining experience of being an empathetic person surrounded by people in pain for 5 hours. I was overwhelmed by all the stuff that had been thrust on me and found myself wanting to be cared for instead of doing the caring. I went to bed knowing that my outlook and ability to cope would probably be better after some sleep.

I was still quite tired and un-cheery this morning, so as I drove to school in the autumn sunshine, I offered the day and my attitude to God. BAM! In a flash I saw the ugliness of my heart once again: I resented having to change my little world in order to serve someone else. Agh! I thought I had already repented of this ugly controlling desire, but alas, it is the sin that trips us all up, the original biggie, the one that dealt the deathblow to mankind, the one even an angel could not resist falling into, the one I will battle all my life as it seeks to reassert its ugly serpentine head over and over again. This morning I said, “NO!” to it once again and though the fatigue did not subside, the miserable attitude did and I gained a more rational perspective on things once again.

I was discussing something on a forum with a Muslim this week and I asked him the question, “What makes one a Muslim?” He responded that at its very core, the term refers to one who submits to God. I asked if this also applied to Christians and he said that in general, Muslims believe that Christians today are perverse and have strayed from the original teachings of Jesus, at least according to an Islamic perspective. I was strangely convicted by this, for I do not know if someone who encounters me would readily say, “Ah, yes, this is a person who submits to God.” Submission is not my middle name; no, rugged independence seems more apt for a pioneer, an artist, a free spirit, a creative thinker and mystic. But love is one that submits itself for the sake of another; it can be assertive, but never for its own good. It is not demanding or pouty or slighted or irritable or whining. It does not take or demand attention for itself.

Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first,“ doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end. Love never dies. (From 1 Corinthians 13, The Message)

So for the sake of love...I submit.

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