In my last post, I shared briefly how I contracted chickenpox three days to my wedding.
This is what happened..
My nephew swung by our house on the week of my wedding.
Weeks earlier, he had come down with a bout of fever and rash, which later turned out to be chickenpox.
At the time of his visit, he was past the most contagious stage which is the first five days.
Or so we thought.
So this one morning and typical of an absent-minded teenage boy, he grabs my towel after his shower, uses it and then puts it back on the hook.
Hours later I merrily use the towel.
By evening I am itchy, feverish and my neck has bumps on both sides.
So what did I learn from this? (besides never trust a virus-carrying teenager around your house)
1. It is important to feel another’s pain before you offer solutions.
When my wedding rehearsal swung by (a day to the wedding), – I was heading to full-blown – weak, nauseous, inconceivably itchy, swollen, lathered in blisters, feverish and in pain.
Needless to say, I was not feeling or looking chirpy.
I thought my day was rough already…until my team, high on wedding-adrenaline, arrived.
Many were gracious and sensitive.
But others, and just like the many phone conversations and texts I had received in the past few days, were full of “encouragement“.
Not a bad thing, I know.
It’s the normal “nice” Christian thing actually. Tell someone to be strong, keep praying and believing, have hope and not give up, focus on the good things e.t.c
I will tell you though that at time, I did not need to be told how to think, what to feel or say or pray or fast about, not even how to look!
(One spunky young lady told me “cheer up, why look so sad? This wedding is going to happen anyway!)
Like I needed the reminder!
You see, in our rush to encourage, be strong, fill up awkward silence brought about by pain and things that we do not understand, we say all manner of things, make statements, ask questions, draw conclusions – basically muddle up things we should not be touching in the first place.
Hurting or grieving human hearts are such – sometimes they don’t need a director, just a comforter, a kindred spirit.
I can’t tell you the difference “how are you doing? or “I know this is hard for you” or ” I can’t imagine what you are going through,” would have made.
I know that a hug would made me feel better without loads of solutions attached to it. (Okay, I know I was contagious. Just saying).
As a Christian, balancing spirituality and reality does get tricky sometimes.
We desire to keep a heavenly perspective. We are spiritual creatures. But then we also live in bodies.
And in times of grief and pain, these bodies just need a hug, not a sermon.
2. It is possible to go through situations which feel impossible. And not die.
Well, I know that a virus in a bride-to-be’s body is not a near death experience..but to tell you that truth, it did feel as though my careful beautifully-crafted wedding plans were up in flames!
Yes, a bride’s health, especially the condition of her skin – her face especially – are very important.
But the heat was not just on the plans.
It was quickly spreading to my mind.
I began to wonder what I had done to “attract” the “misfortune”. Maybe I had not prayed enough, believed enough, fasted enough.
I struggled with hopelessness, feelings of unworthiness, fluctuating faith and gloom.
I was in deep self-examination (nothing wrong with that by the way, just make sure you come up for air).
But then the longer I stayed in that state, the deeper I sank, the tighter and darker my situation felt.
I had other things going on, not just a pimply weak body (O did I mention that my beautician canceled last minute, the cake lady decided not to deliver the cake, we didn’t have enough money for the food..and the honeymoon and “other” details?).
So it was crucial that decide where my focus would go.
The main thing for Saturday, August 16th was joining in holy matrimony with my best friend. At the minimum, all I needed was enough strength to walk down the aisle to say “I do”.
Other things were just details, pretty add-ons that had no bearing on the main thing. Yes, they were important (typical Kenyan weddings are big elaborate affairs).
But they were not the main thing.
When life nose-dives or rather circumstances seem to nose down, we can stay sane by keeping a simple perspective.
Instead of focusing on the many tiny details surrounding the major thing, we can instead choose to look at the main thing, keep a determined focus and shake off other weights.
We can decide to stop wasting precious energy keeping all the chips from falling, working hard to please everybody and working circumstances to perfection.
Sometimes, the greatest thing to do, when there are too many balls in the air is to choose to catch the most important ball (the main thing) and and leave the others to drop wherever they may.
Ultimately, this life has this tendency to serve up what we ask.
Maybe not immediately..but eventually it delivers what we believe for.
3. God can do the impossible.
I have seen adults go through a full blown case of chickenpox.
I am yet to meet anyone who’s raging illness stopped dead on its tracks.
On its own.
Like mine did.
On the eve of my wedding and three days after the break-out, the existing blisters suddenly began to dry off.
New ones stopped popping (even on existing red spots). The itching reduced. My appetite began to return.
And yes, a new make-up person who had superior kit showed up (did I mention that my face needed a miracle?), a sumptuous meal for the guests was in place, the cake lady did deliver the cake. All other important fussy details fell in to place.
And on Saturday morning (wedding day), and at the exact moment I stepped out of the car, my previously weak body began to hum with energy.
Real joy filled my heart for the first time in several days.
I could not stop laughing and dancing the rest of the day. Unless you were in the know, you couldn’t tell I was unwell.
I saw the gift and hand of God.
There are those who will argue that the illness somehow blew its course.
But I know the difference between an illness finishing its course and a miracle of healing. You can’t argue with this personal experience.
God gave me a miracle.
And not because I deserved it.
But because He is good.
Tommy only relaxed when he saw saw me smile at a distance. Only then did he know that I was all right, that I would be able to go through the day.
This man received a swift introduction to the marriage vows we would take later; to love each other for better or for worse.
God gave me a good man.
Here’s the take away; the things that look like they are about to kill you can be your ticket to an upgrade.
Upgraded faith. Next level. The miracle you need.
Those areas of your life that have gone south. Being stuck in endless self-examination, paralyzed and unable to move on. Guilt for real or imagined sin keeping you in a mental prison.
No one is there to extend kind words or warm arms.
But that’s not the end of your story.
There’s One who cares, One who heals, One who sees.
Don’t Quit. Just ask of Him. Stay close. Keep walking. The answer you need is down the road.
But you must stay close to Him and keep walking.
Question – What life lessons have you learned from your own difficult moments? Please share in Comments .