Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Shut Up!

Do everything without complaining and arguing. Philippians 2:14

I felt like a marathon runner on about mile 18. For three months Peter had increased GI complications we just couldn’t decipher. The GI complications had caused continued weight loss and an inability to process regular food or even formula feeds. Finally the doctors diagnosed a condition called SMA Syndrome. This blockage to his GI tract proved so complete it prevented even switching his Gtube to a GJ tube which could extend past the blockage. So a PICC line had been placed and TPN administered. With weight gain the obstruction would likely improve, the GJ tube placed, and then Peter could switch back to formula feeds until his body healed enough to eat again.

After two short training sessions, my “nursing license” complete, I became responsible for managing Peter’s central line IV. The emotional strain, sleepless nights as we restarted slow formula feeds, and anxious waiting for his reassessment in two weeks wrecked havoc with my stability. I felt like I constantly vented to my friends and struggled to empathize with others’ situations or even rejoice in their happiness. I struggled to find ways to keep Peter entertained as being connected to the IV lines 24/7 limited his independence. The seriousness of Peter’s condition and intensity of his practical care kept us housebound and soon overwhelmed me. I did not know how I could go on.

I tried to press into the Word. I continued to pray and beg for strength and mercy. God’s sustenance enabled me to survive each day. However, it remained a constant daily battle to keep my attitude in check. I hated feeling trapped by Peter’s circumstances. I was tired of being tired. So often, I just wanted to run away. A constant angst filled me so my stomach stayed in knots.

Then, one night, I finally found a minute to sit down for some spiritual input. I started with the daily devotional, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. I turned to the day’s date and as I read, I felt like God sat in the chair across from me and gently but firmly told me how things stood between us.

“You have been on a long, uphill journey,” I read, “and your energy is almost spent. Though you have faltered at times, you have not let go of My hand. I am pleased with your desire to stay close to Me. There is one thing, however, that displeases me: your tendency to complain…”

I continued to read about God’s desire to hear my every complaint but how spewing on others fostered sins of self pity, discontent, and rage. I know I literally sat there for a full minute with my mouth open, in shock at how specifically the devotional addressed my situation. Yet, in spite of the directness, I realized the truth of the accusation. My attitude reeked lately. I recognized my tendency to spew on others and did not like it, yet it became one more thing about which I complained, how whiney my life made me.

I could only bow my head in repentance. As I did so, I felt God’s gentle correction continue as he encouraged me to pursue gratitude. He challenged me to shift my focus from any lack to my abundance in Him. I truly did have so much for which to be grateful. I recognized that once again I had chosen to dwell on myself and my comfort rather than on God and his faithful works in my life. The next morning I immediately contacted my online support network with a plea for forgiveness and posted my Top 10 Reasons for Gratitude.

Life often does not go how we desire. It often contains elements we’d rather avoid. In those moments, recognize you have a choice. You can focus on yourself and what you perceive to lack. Or, you can recognize the situation as an opportunity for God to work on your behalf. Complaining fosters negativity. Gratitude fuels positivity. Choose to have and maintain an attitude of gratitude. It will truly change your life.

1 comment:

  1. Juli: that last paragraph is so true. Negativity is all-consuming, but gratitude is infectious. You have such a wonderful way of communicating about the teachable moments in your life.
    -Kim B.