* * * * *
I go to bed earlier to catch up on sleep I missed the night before. Monday went alright, but I know I have stresses and long days ahead of me yet. I need the rest and energy, and I pray for a good night. I fall asleep quickly, or at least I think so. The next thing I remember is various thoughts going through my mind. I'm in a half-awake and dreaming at the same time. I begin to shake underneath my blankets. No, I can't get sick now. I have an important meeting today. I wonder if I will have to call in. I've never had to do that before.
Wondering how much time I have before I have to get up, I turn over to look at the alarm clock. It's only 11:22. I still have over six hours. I push the covers back and head down to the bathroom. There I continue to shake violently. This happens all too often to me. I try to relax my shaking body, then go to the kitchen where I measure a spoon of antacid into a glass of water. I drink the bubbling mixture, hoping it will work quickly and I will be able to sleep again.
Shortly hereafter, I make my way back to bed, only to come back down to the bathroom several times. I try to vomit, but am not successful. After being up for about two hours, I drift off to sleep. In the morning, I pull myself out of bed, force some breakfast down, take a Gravol and go to work.
* * * * *
I have been praying about this meeting for weeks. I have feared it. I stare out the window watching scenery and traffic go by and pray again. I know we'll need it. Afterward, I walk out confused. It went totally different than expected. Better than expected. I want to thank God, but I'm so confused, I only wonder when the next attack will come.
Why do I do this? Why is it that when things go better than expected, I either think I was worried for no reason, or that something bad is yet bound to happen? I pray for weeks about something, and then when it goes well, I don't even give credit to God. Why do I strip Him of the praise He deserves?
* * * * *
I come home late. It has now been 14 hours since I left that morning. Another fearful meeting has gone better than expected. I'm very tired and hungry. Nothing is prepared for me. I pull out a carton of almond milk and Cheerios. This is as much supper as I can handle half an hour before bed. Must try to get 8 hours of sleep tonight, because I have the same kind of day ahead of me tomorrow, although likely not quite as late.
* * * * *
I drive myself to another meeting. It's an hour to my destination. I can follow Christian radio stations for the whole drive, but I'm looking forward to getting past the next city where the traffic thins out. These are moments I'm thankful for. After the meeting, I make a similar drive home, although slower than usual with the snow in some areas. I arrive home earlier than last night. I had noticed pork chops thawing on the kitchen counter that morning and looking forward to something close to a real supper. There are, however, no pork chops left. I cut a bagel in half, push down the toaster, and pull a jar of Cheez Whiz out of the fridge. I don't even like this stuff, but I crave it occasionally and don't want butter again. How does that work?
* * * * *
So there's snippets of a few of my days. What did I learn from all this? Although I was busy, tired, and had little time to think or focus on anything other than work, I can never shut my mind off completely. Some of the things I have described are common for me. Others perhaps not so much. What I saw though is that when I desire to reflect God's strength, my circumstances don't always change. God doesn't always sugar-coat things for me or smooth out the road. Life is still hard. I still get tired. I still feel sick during nights I really need sleep. I still have to get up and go to work when I really don't want to. So how do I reflect God's grace in all of this?
Response. That's what it comes down to. I can whine and complain, or I can invite God into my circumstances. The difference is in how I respond. And to be honest, my response is generally to complain and get irritable with people around me, to mope in my self-pity. Perhaps that's largely what I've been doing in this post.
When I look back on this week, I can't identify a moment where God's strength was incredibly evident. But I do recognize where I had peace that I normally would not have. I have recognized meetings that went better than they should have. And yet, my first instinct wasn't to praise God and give Him credit for these things, although I had prayed significantly about them. I know I'm not the only one to do this but why do we do that? Why do we dismiss things and say that maybe we were just overreacting or getting worried for nothing when things go better? Why do we try to credit our own strength when we can go to work when we don't want to, when we can speak with confidence and peace, when just the thought of something half an hour earlier terrified us? It's something I don't entirely understand.
This I do understand. We reflect God's grace and strength in how we respond to circumstances. We reflect His grace when we give Him the credit that's rightfully His. We also reflect Him when we intercede for others in our own hard times.
But that's too much for this post, and I will continue my story later.
To be continued....