So in the middle of my recent “grey blob” period as I dealt with a hornet sting, a traumatizing IV insertion, and a really bad infection in my finger, not to mention a crappy farewell with my husband, God graciously served me some wonderful serendipity. As I left the hospital after the IV debacle and just before my finger turned into a throbbing inferno, I had a lovely lunch with my dear friend Sue.
Sue and I had worked together on a woman’s retreat back in May of this year. We spent several months in formation together, meeting and praying on a weekly basis. As the different women discerned for the various roles on the retreat team, Sue and I chose to work in the chapel and also to deal with the ministry that organized the letters of encouragement for the eventual participants.
We made a great team, complementing each other’s different personalities. Me – the larger-than-life, outgoing, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda gal, and she – the quiet, introspective, not-sure-if-I-can-do-it kinda gal. I really enjoyed working with Sue and we had lots of time to share during the course of the retreat weekend.
Lunch today was the first time we had seen each other since the retreat. I had been travelling and she had been looking after her grandchildren over the summer. I remember seeing her as I crossed the parking lot, sitting outside Panera waiting for me, and I felt this warm fuzzy and thought, “thank you God, Sue is exactly what I need right now”.
We went inside and ordered lunch, found our table and settled down. We talked about so many things, catching each other up on our lives and our comings and goings. Then we went a little deeper and we began to talk about feelings and prayer and spiritual growth. And though we were right there in the middle of a lunch time crowd, we might as well have been on our own desert island.
There was laughter and tears (or lack thereof!!) and we were touching on something quite important for Sue. She had shared something special and personal and God put the right words in my mouth. It was one of those ah-hah moments for her and the light bulb switched on. As we sat in the quiet of that moment, as shared revelations sank into the heart, and tears welled up in her eyes, and I was thanking God for using me to His purpose, I felt a pair of gentle hands on my shoulders.
Turning, I saw with great delight another of our retreat sisters. Hugs were exchanged and we spent a few minutes talking with her before she rejoined her husband for lunch. I turned my attention back to Sue who was shaking her head in disbelief. I smiled and waited for her to speak.
She shook her head as she said, “How amazing is that? The very person who role models the one big thing I have been struggling with these past fifteen years, walks into the restaurant today, while we are having lunch, right after we had been discussing just that thing”. And her eyes filled with tears. I simply said, “There’s nothing amazing about it at all. It’s a God thing. This is how God works when you are open to the growth.”
A little while later we wrapped up our lunch and went our separate ways. I sent a prayer of gratitude to God, thanking Him for the gift of Sue. My time with her had lifted me out of myself and the difficulties I had been experiencing. It had also offered me the opportunity to be an instrument of God and to help someone else.
I am totally forcing myself through a dark grey cloud at this moment, making my fingers push across the keys on my laptop. Unfortunately the weather isn’t helping. It’s grey and miserable out there and has been since yesterday.
There’s a voice in my head that belongs to perky Ms. Cheerleader (one of the many “committee members” who inhabit my brain!!), saying over and over, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. A snarling voice that belongs to another committee member, Mr. Censor, throws back at her, “what if I don’t want to make lemonade!!!”.
If what I am feeling right now is akin to depression I really empathize with those suffering from that disease. I have cried at least a dozen times since yesterday evening. I have absolutely no energy or enthusiasm whatsoever. So what bought this on, you are wondering? Here goes.
You remember I got stung by a wasp (we’re now thinking possibly a hornet) twelve days ago? This was Lemon #1, and that story is in a blog I wrote about eight days ago. Well I was put on antibiotics for that and they have a “depressing” effect on my system. Not too bad, but I wasn’t my usual happy-go-lucky self. Had to work at being upbeat. Lemon #2.
Last weekend was a busy, fun filled time: gardening, attending a parish picnic, and riding to St. Augustine on our beloved Harley. However, by Sunday I noticed that my right index finger was a little tender around the lower and left nail area. I saw that I had a “hang nail”, dropped a little alcohol on it, and got on with my day. By Monday morning it was reddish and a little swollen. So I applied more alcohol and decided if it got worse I would see my doctor. I did not know that this was Lemon #3 developing.
Serendipity came that evening in the form of my second pottery class. The three pieces I had created two weeks prior were nicely dried and ready for glazing. I already wrote a blog about this on Monday evening. What I didn’t write in there was that my husband was packing for a business trip that evening and the “gods” were conspiring against him and consequently creating some aggravation and irritation between us – rather like “pre-deployment bitching”. But that’s a whole other story (and Lemon #4!); I’m just painting background here!
On Tuesday morning The Finger is throbbing. After having kissed and made up, Richard left for the airport and I left for a cat scan. It was to be “with contrast” and so entailed the need for an IV. I am not going into details. Just accept that my left hand was “butchered” in an attempt to get an IV in – I almost came off the table and I was screaming through clenched teeth! Lemon #5.
Having got through that trauma, I went and sat in Starbucks for about two hours drinking green tea, breathing, and reading a book. I had a lunch date with a girlfriend that was the most God-ordered thing that happened to me that day. Everything about lunch with Sue was totally serendipitous and allowed me to forget The Finger for a while.
As I drove home I became very aware of the increased throbbing in The Finger. It also looked rather like a small light bulb, glowing red and radiating heat. I prayed that it would explode so that whatever was going on inside would get outside! I went straight to my doctor’s office, and he tried very hard for twenty minutes to gently cause the prayed for explosion, but to no avail.
He decided that even though I was already on antibiotics for the sting, I needed something more potent. After ascertaining that I was headed straight home, he administered a “level three” antibiotic, made sure I had some pain killers, made an appointment to check on it in two days time, and sent me home. I crawled in the front door just before someone threw a switch and sucked out every ounce of energy and enthusiasm that lived inside my body. Lemon #6.
For the next twenty four hours I felt like a grey blob. I cried a lot. I felt as though someone or something was jut pushing down on me, suppressing any joy that I might feel. I was grateful that I had lunch scheduled with Kathi next day and that I had a massage on the books that afternoon. By the time I came out I felt somewhat better – thank you my massage-angel Michael!
I woke on Thursday (yesterday) feeling as though I had been allowed back into my “normal” body, although I was aware that maybe that level three shot had blown my defenses and I was manifesting a yeast infection! Lemon #7. However I felt ready for the day and had at least two ideas for articles that I was going to write when I got home after the doctor’s appointment. But, when he saw my finger Dr. W. wasn’t totally happy and said, yes it was making progress but he wanted to zap me with another level three. Lemon #8.
I crawled home after my appointment having stopped off to get my yeast infection meds and getting trapped in the store by an ungodly storm. I felt the energy and enthusiasm draining out of me again, and I crashed for three and a half hours on the couch. I cried a lot again last night, and some more this morning. Then I made a command decision: this depression, even though temporary, was not going to have a hold of me any more!
So, even though I don’t feel like making lemonade with all those lemons, I am writing. I will not allow it to rob me of that joy. And even though I don’t want to make lemonade, I can at least see that there were some serendipitous moments granted me in the mix, and for those I am truly grateful. They gave me the intermittent strength to make it from one lemon to the next!!