I’m a very empathetic person.
I care deeply about people who are hurting. I usually have no boundaries when someone needs help or needs a listening ear. I’m available. An eager, bleeding heart.
Unless my husband is sick.
I don’t know what happens, but when he gets sick, my empathy flies out the window. To be replaced by curtness and a no-nonsense attitude.
I come up with inspired remarks. “Why don’t you try walking it off.” “Take some medicine. You’ll feel better in no time.” Or my favorite: “Stop whining and be adult about this.”
Not compassionate responses. I think it has a lot to do with the unrelenting moaning and groaning.
John has been feeling under the weather this week. It really should be something I expected. He’s been traveling a lot and has some challenging issues he needs to deal with. Throw in lots of late nights and me being gone for a week, and his misery should come as no surprise. (To clarify, when I’m gone, he usually subsists on popcorn. Not exactly all the food groups.)
I was making dinner a few nights ago when I heard this low, whisper-windy moan. Not too different from a plaintive moo of a cow.
“Honey, are you alright?”
Honey came trudging into the room. Dragging feet. Lowered head. “I don’t feel so good. Do I have a fever.”
I could feel my empathy slowly drain from my body.
His head was warm. I’ll give him that.
I made him hot tea and soup. (Doesn’t that make me a good wife?) As he finished it, he mumbled, “I think I need to see a doctor.”
“Babe, I think you have a cold. Or at worst, a little bug.”
“I can’t swallow. My throat hurts. Maybe it’s strep.”
“You never get strep.”
The empathy is now in quick retreat from my body.
“Why don’t you just go to bed and try to sleep. I’m sure you’ll feel better in the morning”
Moan. Groan. Deep sigh. “OK.”
He’s been in bed the last two days.
The thing is, I know he’s sick. I get that he doesn’t feel well. I’ve been where he is. Maybe that’s why I get so impatient with him.
I don’t get to go to bed when I feel like that.
Correction: I don’t feel like I should go to bed when I feel like that. I’ve got to tough it out and keep going.
Because I think so much depends on me.
I’m realizing that this has way more to do with how I view me than how I view John’s illness.
I’m a performance-driven person. Not that I’m proud of that. But I operate as if my worth is based solely on what I do. Not who I am.
Too often I treat my relationship with God the same way. That I’m more acceptable the more I do.
He sees it differently.
“God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Ephesians 2:8-9
My value to God is not based on what I can do for Him. I could never do enough. My worth to Him is based on what He did for me.
He died in my place.
I need to rethink where I place my value–God’s grace or my efforts.
Then I may be able to let John rest in peace.
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