I woke up on Sunday morning with a sore throat. It was all too reminiscent of the same symptoms I had when I opened my eyes on November 23. This nagging cold has been my unwanted companion for 63 days and that morning, it felt like I was back at square one again. Nothing had changed; despite a few peaks of almost normalcy which never lasted long, I was still coughing, fatigued, congested, but now also worn out from the fight and all out of hope. Silly as it seems, I laid in bed and cried great big wretched sobs of hopelessness. Waking up tired, day after day with no end in sight and no significant signs of lasting improvement had reduced me to a lump of sickly flesh that was ready to give up any thoughts of being a vibrant, energetic, and well person ever again.
Of course, I did all the right things after that. I shoved the hopelessness to the side, I ignored it, I thought positive thoughts, I asked God for healing, I read my Bible, and I tried to starve the black monster through neglect, hoping it would whither and die. I tried to curse it with all the decay that it had already inflicted on me, but I didn't have the energy for anger. Hopelessness strips you of all energy to fight. I had little motivation to do my schoolwork or clean my house or eat or hang out with friends. What was the point? I would just be more tired at the end of it all.
Sunday night at church, I sat in my chair with my medium vanilla cappuccino (fake energy) and dragged my deflated spirit to meet with God. You know, talking to God by myself is great and I never tire of our interesting and intimate exchanges, but there is something about placing oneself in a communal setting, in the middle of a bunch of people who are worshipping God to the best of their ability, that places the floundering soul in a much different setting. No longer was I rowing in my own wobbly boat, tossed to and fro by the waves of doubt and disease, trying to navigate tricky and deep waters by myself. Now I found myself sitting on a large ferry filled with fellow travellers, a stable vessel, constantly moving forward in the water, and not nearly as affected by winds of worry or waves of emotion. The direction was clear and the compass unwavering.
And I heard Jesus ask for my hopelessness. "Bring your stinking, decaying trash to me. I am not afraid of being contaminated by your disease and your despair. I am Life. I don't take out the trash, I take it in. I will pick you up in my arms and hold your disease and despair close to me. So close that it becomes lost in me. I will swallow it up and digest it, turning it from putrid to pure. Decay will be transformed into life. The skeleton of dead dreams will become a soaring bird that never tires. Weightless."
I was still sick on Monday, but I was convinced that this could change. I went to the walk-in clinic and saw a doctor who informed me that anything that lasts for two months is not a cold! She prescribed antibiotics and nasal spray for a sinus infection and urged me to come back if I did not feel well in two weeks. Two days later, I still don't feel much better; I know it takes awhile for the drugs to infiltrate my body and give it the upper hand against infection. What did change immediately was my belief that I could run again.
We all need the words of someone who can tell us the truth about what is going on beneath the surface. We all need a little help when we can't fight things ourselves. We all need to be part of a worshipping community that points us in the right direction and keeps us from floundering. We all need someone to unload our trash onto. We all need hope and it is not something we are equipped to manufacture on own own. We all need Jesus to heal us, but sometimes we don't know how to get close enough to touch him, or how to let him touch us.
Thank you, hopelessness, for pressing me towards him, my only real Hope.
These are the drugs which are helping my body in the fight against evil.