Made to Respond {How to be sick on Valentine’s Day.}

When I was so sick that I thought I might pass out, this thought came to me: What if this pain is clearing out not only all the food I’ve ever eaten, but it’s also boiling down the purpose of my life.

We tend to get sick a lot.

Last year, I wrote about coming to grips with all the costs and sacrifices of caring for my little one. It hasn’t been the path I would have chosen for my son or myself.

But here I am at home again. And on Valentine’s Day.

How to be sick on Valentine's Day

I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t feel the pain of loss when the rest of my family walked out the door. But what if that pain was making space for something more beautiful?

Patience. Contentment. Peace.

What if pain wasn’t a punishment? What if it was a tool, useful for revealing realities that normally remain unseen?

This is what I was thinking when my toddler was vomiting all over himself and the floor. I’m not good with puke. Ask my husband. I tend to freak out a little, as if my poor little people aren’t scared enough of their body’s revolting – enter the image of me waving my hands in front of my face saying “I can’t do this, I can’t do this!” 

I haven’t come by motherhood gracefully.

My daughter has witnessed more of my parenting fails than my sons. For many years, I didn’t have a grip on how to stop myself from reacting (and over-reacting) to every little thing. I would go in circles.

  1. Disciplined and self controlled – focused on the good things, ready to accomplish life’s tasks.
  2. Disappointed or discouraged – lack of sleep, lack of exercise, lack of adult conversation, and lack of purpose.
  3. Dragged down by demands – this would inevitably lead to an over reaction to one more thing gone wrong.
  4. Determined to go back to step 1 – repeat.

And that’s when pain broke this cycle. Only then did something more beautiful take the place of my over reactions. Grace moved from the outside in, and taught me to quiet my soul, take time to wait, and then respond.

I’ve found that the more I wait, the more content I become, the better I am able to handle a trying situation.

See, I believe, we are all made to respond. It’s at the core of every living thing. Reacting is just the bossy version of responding. It lies and tells us that we should avoid pain which just fuels the need to react when pain comes.

Because pain always comes. 

So this Valentine’s Day, as I spend it at home with my little sick guy, I want to inspire you to grow in beauty. Identify the things in your life that cause you to react. Let grace move in and teach you to wait. Patience, the right response, and peace will follow. It will be worth it.

Learning, growing, responding – these are the real, pain-revealed purposes of my life.


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