Sunday, March 25, 2012

Are you feeling better?

Are you feeling better?
I have come to loathe that question.
What exactly am I supposed to be feeling better from? Am I feeling better than when I was strapped to a backboard a week ago?  Yes, because I have yet to meet a backboard that is particularly comfortable.  Am I feeling better than earlier in the week when I lay out in the sun “doing homework”?  Not particularly.
How about better than yesterday?  Better than five minutes ago?  Better than a year ago?
It’s a question that I can’t really ever answer. I live with chronic illness.  I’m not going to get better.  Sure, I’ll have my good days and my not so good days and my-roll-over-and-stay-in bed-because-it’s-not-worth-trying-to-get-up-days (those don’t happen super often, but sometimes I need an extra hour or two to complete the getting up process).
I wish I could answer that question with an unequivocal yes. I wish that one morning I could wake up and say “yes.  I am feeling better” but, barring a miracle, that unequivocal yes won’t come until heaven.  Until then, it’s just one day, one moment at a time.
If you really want to know how I’m doing, asking me if I’m feeling better won’t get you far.  Asking about a specific trouble will get you further (is your knee better?  Have you recovered from the flu?), but the best question, the question that if you care enough to listen, will get you the most truthful answer is “How are you doing?”
That allows me, and anyone else really, answer with where they are currently at without having to make comparisons are feel guilty for not actually being better even though a “normal” person would already have been better.
“How are you doing?”  is a neutral question with no presuppositions of improvement or lack thereof.  It’s open ended and non-judgmental.  And that's how are the best questions are.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Sermon That Wasn't

Late last fall I was asked to preach at the church I grew up in.  Naturally I said yes.  I am one of three seminary students from my home church and it was the first time I was asked to preach here and I was just as nervous as I was excited.  I have preached lots of times in my teaching church and other places in (little) Holland, but there is something different about being in front of people who have watched you grow up, through the good and the bad, the pretty and the ugly.
I was nervous, but as Mommy Glynis taught me through my years of drama in the MVPs, appropriate nervousness is a good thing.  If you aren't nervous you are too full of yourself.  This piece of wisdom was affirmed by my preaching professor last year.
I ate breakfast this morning and went off to church with my dad (sound tech) and Littlest Brother (playing prelude).  I got wired and did sound checks.  I sat on my stool behind the pulpit to get the feel for things. I talked with the person running visuals and got everything set for that.  I went downstairs and prayed with the pastor and elders.
I felt fine as I sat in the front pew next to the pastor waiting for the sermon time.
I got up, settled myself onto my stool, prayed, read the scripture, and started my sermon.  I made it through the beginning paragraphs.  Then the words on my page started to blur.  My head started to spin.  Pauses between be words and sentences became longer and longer.  Things became tunnel. The next thing I remember is coming to on the floor with people around me. I had passed out.
 First responders and nurses in the congregation revived me, and someone called 911.  The local fire department showed up first.  They put me on oxygen and I desperately wanted to finish my sermon.  They sat me up on my stool and I promptly passed out again.  Paramedics showed up and didn't give me a choice about hospital time.  I quickly found myself in a cervical collar and strapped to a backboard and in an ambulance.  I spent a couple hours in the ER getting IV fluids and blood work. We didn't get any real answers as to why I passed out, however the doctor suspects an electrolyte imbalance and if I keep watching my mineral intake I should be fine.
So in other words, my sermon never got preached.  I have yet to find a silver lining to all this or a purpose behind this. Perhaps satan didn't want the congregation to hear my message, perhaps it was just because I had been sick with an upper respiratory infection for the last couple weeks, perhaps it was random.
But I'm not giving up.  If they give me another chance, I will preach it again.  And I will keep trying until I get through it until it turns into the sermon that definitely was.