As Smug as the Stomach Bug
This past Sunday evening I came down with a horrible stomach bug. Probably the worst I’ve ever had. I’ll spare you all the gory details except to say that I was sick every 30 minutes, like clockwork, and each time it was rougher than the last. My sweet husband was trying to help. Really, he was. “Can I get you some water?” “You want some chicken-noodle soup?” “How about a warm washcloth?” Feeling too weak to even care about talking (or his feelings), I met each request with a biting, “NO!!” And when he thought he’d try that “just hold me” thing that I usually like, I shirked away with a “Don’t touch me…”
I eventually called my Mom to ask her a question about a medicine she used to give me at home, and I was just as ugly to her. But hey, can you blame me? I felt like death warmed over! And in that moment the only thing on my mind was that I HATED the way I felt. She asked me if I was “ugly” to my husband, and I told her yes! Of course I was ugly to him….he deserved it! After all, I was sick, and he was “bothering” me with all of his questions.
My poor husband. We’ve only been married for 4 months, and we’ve only known each other for a year. He doesn’t know the things I want or need when I’m sick. But he knows he loves me, and he knows he’d do anything to make me feel better. But my response? Well, I just wanted to be left alone, and I told him to go to bed. Of course five minutes later I wanted a blanket, and a few minutes after that I wanted something to drink. (Wasn’t that a drink that he had offered me just fifteen minutes earlier? Surely not…) Too proud to wake him up I stumble over to the fridge to get it myself, but I couldn’t even make it all the way there. I rush to the bathroom (just in time I might add), where I lay on the floor for the next 30 minutes.
My mom soon calls back with some answers to my medicine questions, and demands that I give the phone to my husband. (Oops–Sorry Mom! What I meant to say was that “she kindly and compassionately asked to speak to my husband.”) Maybe she really wanted to tell him something, or maybe she just knew that I truly needed him to be awake with me. I’m not sure, really. But I woke him up, gave him the phone, and he spent the next few hours across the living room from me. Not touching me, or offering to get me things. Just being there, and I’m so thankful he was. Despite my grumpy and biting words, I really did want him there. (Not that he could tell…) And thankfully He remained right there until the wee hours of the morning when my stomach bug finally died down.
A few days later, looking back at that night I find myself a little humbled by the story. I was arrogant. Selfish. Rude. The opposite of so many things that I generally strive to be. I’ve rationalized those thoughts away with the excuse that I was sick. After all, it’s okay to be rude when you’re sick. Isn’t it? I’d like to think so, but as usual the Lord brought me to something in His Word that I’ve never noticed before. Something that took me straight back to that night, and to where I went wrong. I was reading Psalm 22, and the very first verse practically jumped off the page at me. “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?” This Psalm, what many call the “Psalm of Victory”, was written by David, but I’m sure many of you recognize this famous quote. Jesus Himself quoted it, while hanging on the cross. I’m not sure I ever knew that He was quoting Scripture when He made this statement. I’ve heard sermon after sermon on the statement, but most have focused on the fact that Christ was temporarily separated from the Father when He took our sins upon Himself. They haven’t focused on the origin of the statement itself. He was quoting a Psalm of David, and one that actually foreshadowed His future death on the cross.
I was astounded at this realization. As Christ hung there in agony, experiencing the most painful death ever to come to man, He quoted a Psalm. Wait a minute. While in deep torment, He was quoting Scripture? I can tell you that during my little stomach bug, Scripture was the last thing on my mind. And yet I’d still call myself a solid, Christian girl. One who values Scripture and truth. One who seeks to have a Christian mind. But when I’m sick? Well, then I’m a different person. I’m smug, arrogant, and selfish. Hmm. Why such a contrast? We don’t see a contrast in Christ. He hung in agony on the cross, and his thinking still revolved around the truth of the Scripture, so much so that he quoted it. As I stare at the Scripture and see the pain He suffered, and then see the mind He had during that time, I’m amazed at WHO HE IS. As a child I was taught that integrity is who you are when no one’s looking. But who you are isn’t just defined by the way you spend your time when no one’s around. No, it’s even more than that. It’s who you are when you are at your worst. I didn’t really become “a different person” when I got the stomach bug. Actually, I’m pretty sure that there’s no stomach bug out there that’s capable of altering your genetic code. No, I was still the same person. I just no longer cared about hiding the ugly parts of me that were underneath. The ugly parts that were there all along. The reason Christ could quote Scripture on the cross is because He is TRUTH. He is the Word in flesh. It’s who He is. And the agony of the cross didn’t change that.
The same is true for me. As much as I’d like to blame the stomach bug for who I was this past Sunday night, I have to admit that the person snipping back at her husband was me. I, of my own accord, was just as smug as the stomach bug that ailed me. Sure, I have a better side to me sometimes, but that doesn’t mean the bad stuff isn’t really me. It’s me at my worst. It’s the “me” that I need to work on. It’s the reason that I need to daily renew my mind, and set my heart on Christ. Because inevitably, the real “me” that’s hiding underneath will come out again. And my hope is that as I dive into God’s Word and live a life that’s consistent in prayer, He’ll slowly make beauty out of ‘that ugly girl underneath’.
Personal Add-on (10/5/12): A few weeks later, I’m sitting here reading Psalm 31, and come across verse 5. “Into your hand I commit my spirit.” As if I wasn’t already amazed enough, I just realized even MORE of what Jesus said was Scripture. Along with “it is finished”, these words (Scripture!) were the last words uttered before Jesus died. I’m just astounded at the consistency of His thoughts, His person, His gracious speech, and His love. We definitely serve an AMAZING God!