It started out as a stuffy nose and an innocent cough. Oh, and a wicked sore throat. (You know, the kind that feels like you swallowed knives?) Yeah. It was a fun beginning to November.
It lasted longer than colds usually do for me, so the doctor and I got a chance to catch up. It was a short, sweet visit, and after hovering around my lower right lung for an extra millisecond – just long enough to make my eyebrows raise – she declared that I was “fine” and my lungs sounded clear. Just rest, she said. And so, I did. And me and Mucinex became quite the buds. And I got somewhat better.
At least for a few weeks.
Before all of that, I had been looking forward to the holiday’s…finishing up my second-to-the-last-class of school before graduating in the Spring, anticipating Thanksgiving, the last birthday of my 40’s, holiday parties, and the celebration of Christmas with family and friends.
I was also getting ready for a new year…no more school, instead replacing it with more blogging, writing, speaking, and finally getting on with my life.
At the same time, I’d been praying…quite persistently…
I want Christmas to be different this year. I don’t want to get caught up in all of the typical hustle and bustle that breeds stress and supports my migraine medication. Give me new perspective, God. A better one. A right one.
Be careful what you pray for.
I did have a few weeks of reprieve between then and now, but it didn’t last long. After the first week of December, I began feeling sick again. The innocent cough turned on me, making it difficult to breathe and impossible to think straight. Fever quickly followed, as well as another catch-up with the doctor and this time, an x-ray technician. The diagnosis was different: pneumonia.
I’ve never had pneumonia before – have never been this sick in my life. It’s strange to take short, shallow breaths and never feel like you’re getting enough air. It’s not fun coughing, and coughing, and coughing, with nothing being produced besides strange, wheezing sounds and dizzy spells. It stinks not being able to think straight to save your life, (much less do school work), and barely have enough energy to take a shower.
It’s also disarming being sick for weeks as opposed to your normal three days – especially at Christmastime; not being able to go out and Christmas shop, not seeing any people besides your wonderful husband and amazing mom who are the best caretakers, missing the Nutcracker Suite that you bought second-row seats to, missing your husbands birthday party, another dinner party with good friends, and having to cancel your Christmas shindig.
And just like that, I am not part of the hustle and bustle.
Suddenly, the fact that all of the presents are wrapped with the same three wrapping papers doesn’t matter like it has before. And the “B” grade received on that final exam, (when I’ve always been an “A” student), I could give a rip about. Oh, and not having to worry about getting the house ready and baking for 30-plus people for Christmas? I’m okay with that. Sitting here alone, day after day, watching sentimental Christmas movies, kind of wakes a person up to what’s important in life.
And just like that, my whole perspective is different.
It’s funny how God’s good “gifts” come; we expect them delivered in large, fancy-wrapped boxes with shiny, red bows. Instead, they often come in forms like antibiotic bottles and Kleenex boxes.
Perhaps I was a bit naïve expecting God to answer my prayers by “zapping” my brain into having right perspective, as if praying simply meant He would answer like a genie in a bottle. And there would be no work on my part. No trial, no troubles, no tears.
As if light can be observed without understanding darkness. As if good can be known without the possibility of bad. As if a right perspective can be developed without having battled the corrupt.
Not that God causes all the bad, but it took the “gift” of pneumonia to make me slow down. Let go. Relax. Not worry about things that just aren’t important. And I have to tell you, as sick as I am, I haven’t been this grateful in a long time. I have amazing family who care for me, the best friends who check up on me constantly, a wonderful home to be sick in, and a precious little dog who is driving me nuts. I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams. Pneumonia and all.
I wanted a new perspective and I got it. It is the best gift in the world; one that is not dependent on circumstances and is very hard to return once you open it. I pray that God also gifts you with good perspective this holiday season. (Well, maybe not in the form of pneumonia.)
Merry Christmas, my friends! I look forward to connecting with you much more in the coming year – healthy perspective and all.