Sweet Girl, my thirteen-year-old daughter, lay in bed sick for a few days around the 4th of July last summer. What we thought was a stomach bug turned out to be significantly more serious. By the time we got her to the hospital the thing I feared would happen happened.
Her appendix ruptured.
My heart beat wildly looking into her frail face. Prior to surgery she looked so clammy and pale. Her heart rate accelerated to over 160 from the pain she was in, even while sleeping.
Sweet Girl lay on her sterile hospital bed at the mercy of doctors, nurses and God. I sat next to her knowing there was little I could do but be present. And pray.
I watched those who knew what to do, do what they could do. I waited with expectant longing for the healing I knew was possible.
After a long week in the hospital, we came home. She was still weak but she’d recovered past the most critical stages. What she needed now was more rest and time to let healing continue.
It was a few weeks before she went out of the house much, but when she did those who knew her well and saw her often blinked hard while their heads jumped a little.
“Wow, she’s grown up!” they retorted. I looked a little sideways myself to take in the image before me. She did look like a young lady. But was it really so sudden?
To many, she seemed to changed from my little girl to a young lady overnight. Still beautiful. Just in a different way.
I looked at pictures taken not long before our hospital stay. I saw what they saw; her change and growth indeed distinct. During a time when her body fought hard to recover and heal, she experienced both internal and external growth.
One life threatening event beget one significant level of life transformation.
Isn’t that the way it happens? We experience something crazy hard which seems to have the power to render us defeated, perhaps even unto death. We wrestle through it the best way we can. We come to the other side of struggle, changed.Whether good or bad, trials and stresses of all kinds produce change.
While I sat near my daughter’s side at the hospital, I knew I was unable to provide the healing she needed. I had to trust the one’s who could help. I also trusted God’s handiwork in the way he created her body to fight off infection.
He knows best how we can foster healing because it’s by His design. In order for her body to do what it was designed to do, she needed rest and proper care.
When we experience crazy hard things in life, like illnesses, financial challenges, relational brokenness or some kind of loss, we come face to face with our own lack or control and our inability to make things happen the way we want them to. Even so, we always have choices we can make to foster health and wholeness. Like rest and proper self-care.
For some reason we tend to sweep self-care under the rug of all the things-we-must-do, the-things-we-want-to-do and the-things-others-expect-us-to-do. Yet, providing care for ourselves is one of the most gracious & loving things we can do if we want to serve & love others well. We simply can’t function lovingly on fumes of self-exhaustion.
Self-care requires an honest evaluation of our personal needs and taking care of them in order to be the best we can be.
Our physical being needs time and rest to recover. And to heal. Sometimes we need doctors, medicine or other God-given natural remedies to foster health, but these always work in accordance with the way God designed our needs for physical replenishment.
Our inner emotional and spiritual beings need tending to as well, by our great Shepherd. Self-care of our hearts & souls prepare us for the nourishment offered from our loving Father. It includes tending to, and clearing out, the areas where poison lays, then filling up with His goodness.We need a nourished body & soul in order to give nourishment to others.
When my daughter was sick, I initially mistook her warning signs for less serious illnesses. If I hadn’t taken Sweet Girl to the hospital or allowed the doctors to run tests, examine her body, and do surgery where needed, she could have died. I shudder to think of this possibility.
I also shudder to think of how often I neglect the warning signs in my own life. The ones which indicate poison in my hearts. Without attending to the poison in our hearts, they slowly become dead to the things of Christ and the life He desires us to experience.
The pressures of this world and my own desires urge me to push through day after day without taking care of my body & heart. But, sometimes we’re the ones with pale faces and racing pulses unable to continue on without help.
Thankfully, our great physician not only takes care of performing the hard surgeries, but he’s the parent sitting by our side, the nurse tending to our wounds, the nutritionist and fitness instructor encouraging us in healing work. Ultimately, He is the source of healing for every area of our lives.
We simply need to go to him and receive what He willingly offers, including His never ceasing presence and His kind intercession on our behalf.
Oh, Lord, may we not neglect your gracious care. May we seek guidance from the One who knows what we need and how best to receive it. May we come to Your table seeking Your goodness and desiring Your best so it may be shared with others.
By You, Lord, through us. ~ Amen
Question: Is God speaking to you about an area where you need self-care physically, emotionally or spiritually?