They say that a bout with the flu can lead to mild depression during the recovery period. They didn’t say it can also happen to the person taking care of the flu patient. Or patients.
For the past week and a half, we’ve been recovering from the flu. It started as a reaction to a flu shot, but being cooped up in a one-room house is a sure-fire way to catch it too. If it hadn’t been for the storm, I could’ve brought the girls out to minimize contact with their daddy. But there was a storm. We had no choice but to stay home and tank up on fluids and vitamin C.
So now, I find myself breathing a sigh of relief and gratitude that it’s over. Just the odd cough and sniff which goes away when you drink some water. Appetites have returned, and so has laughter and rambunctious play.
But I find myself wanting to withdraw. Now that the moments of crisis have passed, I long for a chance to get away by myself, to refill my emotional tank with the beauty of nothingness. And fullness.
As a journeying christian, I’ve always had questions. In college, I carried my bible around, not to show off, but to remind myself of my need. The book became even more precious as my parents, who had seen my move from Catholic to born-again Christian as an affront, would take my “Protestant” bible. I loved reading it. It was like chatting with God, like getting to know a dear friend who grow dearer each day.
Because of the situation at home, I was not going to church. I was not allowed to go to a born-again church, and I would often hide in a side chapel every sunday that my parents brought me along to hear mass. Nothing against the catholic church. But at that time, priests were becoming more vocal about the political situation in my country, and more often than not, sermons became speeches. It was rare for me at that time to hear a sermon that had anything to do with the bible passages read during the mass.
But I never felt that God was judging me for it. He didn’t seem to mind that “the assembling of ourselves” was the simple daily get-together with my college friends, praying over food, sharing lessons. If there was ever any pressure to go to church, to share the gospel, to lead a group, it came from other people. People who weren’t in my close circle too.
My question is: what are the criteria for judging a person’s relationship with God? Church attendance? Ministry involvement? Hours reading the bible? Tithing?
“Do not judge another’s servant, for by his master he stands or falls.”
I don’t wonder at the growing number of atheists, or at least, anti-Jesus people now. If not for my own awareness of what Jesus has done for me, I would’ve turned away because of the judgment, criticism and hypocrisy I’ve encountered and been subjected to.
Can you imagine a pastor willing to say this: “The most judgmental people in the world are the christians.”
To which I said: “That’s so true.”
I know what it feels to be judged, to be seen as not doing what “must” be done if I were truly a christian. But I never felt that condemnation when I would read my bible, write in my journal, or talk with friends who are truly friends, who have taken the time to get to know me, and have let me get to know them.
I haven’t been able to go to church again lately, and it started long before my family got hit by the flu. I have been feeling lost and out of place. One of the last times I went, I saw everybody joyfully singing, raising their hands, dancing and clapping…but for some reason I couldn’t join in. I had wanted to simply sit down and bask in God’s presence, but that seemed out of place in the midst of the celebration.
Yes, it’s been feeling like caring for a houseful of flu patients. Draining. And now that the demand is gone, I long to be allowed to refill away from everything else. My children sense this and let me lounge about with a book, or run an errand without tagging along. The solitude has been welcome. And strengthening for me.
But I haven’t been praying, or even reading my bible. And yet I know Jesus is with me. We kid about the murder mysteries, about treating myself to an old favorite meal, and do I really need another beret? We window-shop, and I tell him how much I want that Clavinova and that laptop.
We used to play the Blood Games on Facebook before they were banned.
It has been freeing, to find this friendship with him again, to be able to hang out with him again, just him and me. To enjoy the truth that he is here with me, whether I go to church or not. Whether I read my bible or not. It’s been 25 years. His words are in my heart whether I like it or not.
And I like it. I like knowing again that relationship means it’s between him and me. That it’s not about what other people tell me I should be doing, it’s about what I know he has put in my heart to do. Or not do.
I choose to rest. I cannot control what people will think of me. But I can control what I think about myself. My husband loves to tell me that only two opinions should matter to me: God’s and his.
Not that the rest of the church doesn’t matter. They do — just not as much.