One of my doctors recently reminded me that chronic illness isn't a linear process. It's more like a jagged sawtooth journey. Up and down and up and down, and heck, add a carousel for all the round and round. The journey is almost as disorienting as it is disappointing.
It's funny how those "ups" make me hope. Even after all these years of sickness, momentary physical relief breathes audacious hope into the deepest parts of me. But then, the next minute, or hour, or day, or week, this crazy sickness takes a dagger to my hope until it's lying in shreds on the floor.
Shredded hope has a way of turning me into Eeyore: Ho hum, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and there are people who love me, but what does it matter if I'm too sick to enjoy it all...?
Lately, when I notice my internal voice is sounding a lot like Eeyore, I do a t-shirt exercise. I imagine I'm wearing a white t-shirt with something Eeyore-ish printed across the front. I know that whatever is printed across that shirt is a message my spirit has subconsciously embraced. It's a lie I've dressed myself in.
Some days my t-shirt shirt says I deserve better. Other days it says Everyone else is having all the fun. Still other days it reads It's not fair. Lots of days, I'm wearing more than one t-shirt message. This morning I try to list the messages in which I subconsciously dressed myself when I rolled out of bed. There are three I can identify. I'm sure there are many more buried in my subconscious, so I ask God to help me discover them.
This activity is helpful because it requires that I articulate the lies I'm believing. Lies are to Eeyore attitudes what microwaves are to marshmallows.
Identifying the lies is the first step to eradicating them. The second is inviting the Spirit of God to do the eradicating. I want him to take those t-shirts off and replace them with new t-shirts. This morning, after reading Romans 8, I write a list of the t-shirts messages I want to wear:
I am chosen
He knows my name
I’m living my best life because it's authored by Jesus
I ask God to clothe me in these truths. I want to wear them proudly like the "Jesus is my homeboy" t-shirt my best friend sported in middle school.
And then I remember a poster I had when I was a kid. It was royal purple and midnight blue and covered with the names of God. Counselor, Father, Shepherd, Savior, Redeemer, Friend. Sickness has tugged me into deeper understanding of these names. Today, as I do my t-shirt exercise, my sickness has me thinking of God as a tailor.
I picture him in the Garden of Eden shortly after the serpent has slithered off in the grass, smug and victorious. The birds have stopped their cheerful singing. The breeze has ceased its impish dancing and the air hangs thick and still. Adam and Eve are hiding in the olive grove, their heads hanging in shame. And God is there, sitting near them, his nimble fingers stitching together clothes for them from animal skins. He knows they are ashamed of their nakedness, so he wants to cover them.
I wonder what Adam and Eve were expecting God to say and do when he discovered their sin. Would he blow the tops off volcanoes? Send the seas crashing across the land? Were they surprised when he found them hiding in the garden and instead of spewing anger, announced the remedy for the mess they'd made?
I wonder how the Serpent shivered when he heard the news: One day Adam and Eve's great, great, great, great, great, great* grandson would defeat evil once and for all by crushing the head of the crafty Serpent. God had already chosen Someone to reverse the curse of Adam and Eve's sin. The prophets would later call him Messiah. We call him Jesus.
He takes his cue from the Father. He wants to cover our shame, too. He wants to dress us in robes of righteousness. He does dress us in robes of righteousness when we accept his offer of forgiveness and new life.
Sometimes we may try to pull those rotten, false t-shirts over our robes of righteousness, but that doesn't fool God. When he looks at his kids he sees Jesus's perfection draped across our naked souls, shining through those thin shirts. And he's keen to take those t-shirts off, to remind us that we are forgiven, accepted and adored. The lies on our t-shirts don't get to be the boss of us anymore. And we don't even need to replace the old shirts with new and improved shirts of our own; Christ's righteous robes already declare to the world and the heavenly hosts of angels that we are chosen, he knows our names, and we are living our best lives because they're authored by Jesus.
So I've revised my imaginative picture today: I'm not exchanging false t-shirts for true ones; I'm just acknowledging the righteous robes that have been there all along. The robes God sees when he smiles upon me; the robes that remind me of my greatest earthly hope: one day soon, I'll see Jesus face-to-face. And although he will give me a new body on that day, I think I'll be too in awe of his goodness, beauty and tender care for me to pay much attention to my body.
This is the sturdy hope that's pushing me through Monday. I'm praying God would breathe sturdy hope into your Monday, too, my friends.
Hugs and hugs and hugs,
and cheering for you, home skillets.
*LOTS more "greats" belong here
© by scj