But I Caught the Glass
Exploring intentional community over the past few years has given us the extreme blessing of sharing life from many angles. Sharing spaghetti around one table. Sharing the cost of someone’s new tires. Sharing the pain of someone’s old debt, broken relationship, deceased parent. Sharing the joy of someone’s passed class, new pregnancy, forgiven sibling. Sharing prayers, sharing chores, sharing loads.
I love it.
I love every bit of it.
I have loved every bit of it.
Until we shared the stomach virus.
I’m a realist leaning on the silver-lining side. To be frank, I didn’t think I was going to get it. What, with my track record of not having the thing since I was nine years old.
But this was a different beast. This was brutal. We’ll call it, The Battle.
The Battle started two weekends ago with our neighbor/friends/coworkers who inherited it from the Lord only knows where. And then the dance began. Before the week’s end, The Battle had made i’s way up the block and down the next until four homes and 8 people in our community were fighting against it.
The Battle shows no mercy. The Battle is out for revenge against someone, anyone.
I wasn’t planning on being dramatic when the The Battle showed up on our doorstep. But alas. It pushed its way into our home and took over our entire Friday-Sunday, and in the thick of it all, I was hollering to my husband from the edge of a trashcan, “Go on without me! Cut your losses! Leave me here!”
Not only was this a painful epidemic (second only in my book to the Flu of 2010) chock full of back aches and the swearing off of any food ever again throughout the rest of eternity, but it was also terrifying as we’d recently found out that I am pregnant (ps, I’m pregnant and we’re super excited!!!). What a combination. But apparently, growing babies are resilient, and though momma’s body was flopping around like a fish on concrete, The One Within remained tucked safely inside awaiting hydration whenever possible. Still, I panicked.
I panicked. And I got sick. And we got sick.
And then the temperatures outside dropped like crazy.
And then the renters from the home we own in the neighborhood called to say that the dropped temperatures caused a couple of our house’s walls to crack open.
And then another text came through that another intern…neighbor…friend…had started getting the first symptoms of the impending Battle. Bless them all.
And then I received a couple of disgruntled emails that expressed how much more we could and should be doing with our lives and with our ministry.
And then I hollered from the edge of the trashcan, “Go on without me! Cut your losses! Leave me here!”
I don’t know what form I think Spiritual Attacks take. I couldn’t outline it for you now if I tried. I do know that somewhere along the road, I decided that they were obvious. And connected. And you could see them coming.
But I don’t think that’s quite true. I think, in my experience at least, that spiritual attacks are incredibly subtle, seemingly random, and a bit unconnected to the naked eye. A virus here. A wall crack there. An extra bill here. An email there.
And maybe those are unrelated. Maybe they’re not the attack itself. But maybe they and they’re kind set up a good fertile ground, a decent weak space in the wall, for the lies to seep through.
The lies that make you question what you’re doing. The lies that panic you into a survival mode where you just make things worse. The lies that say, “You’ll never…” “Are you sure God said…?” “You’re not doing enough if you’re not doing…” “Everything’s just piling against you, so you better…” The fear mongering tactics of an enemy to Good News are not cheap. They’re costly, experienced, intelligent. And they mean we are on the winning side of a real fight.
Today I am disinfecting the entire house. I have nine piles of clothes, sheets, towels, and pillows to wash before I can invite our 30 after-school children back into the bottom floor tomorrow. All remotes, switches, and handles have been scrubbed down. No inch has gone untouched, save for the floors which are waiting on the mop pad…which will probably be found at the bottom of the ninth pile later today. The interns are disinfecting the whole of the Yellow House across the street and all remaining sick people have been quarantined until further notice.
But as I am cleaning, I am praying. And remembering that it is good to pray.
It is good to pray and have communal input to get our heads back above water.
It is good to remember how to fight our wars. Flesh-battles by fleeing, soul-battles through devotion, spiritual-battles through the Word.
And the word that keeps coming to mind is “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John14:27).
I was wiping down the hall shelves (just in case the germs can climb) and I knocked over a picture frame whose glass wasn’t secured well in the back. I felt the brat inside of me seeing this as “just another thing” to add to the list…broken glass…shattered something…more to clean.
But I caught it.
And I breathed.
And I took my time to get it back on the shelf. I didn’t get frantic or fussy and therefore cause a bigger episode than there needed to be.
I think I’m learning that these things that come our way all at once, in whatever form, in whatever order, do not get fought well through panic or pouting. We get out of these funks with peace-seeking. With prayer. With people who remind us of reality. With a bit of a pause. With the Word. Through an unrushed pace. Through a bit of cleaning, a bit of planning, some reversal tactics to get back on track. Through the willingness to believe that just because we feel strongly one way, one day, it doesn’t mean it’s always been like that. It doesn’t mean it will be like that tomorrow.
I didn’t do or think or say a lot of things right or nice or “true, noble, pure, and lovely” this weekend. But I caught the glass. And I slowly returned it. And I cleaned. And I prayed. And today feels different than last night, praise God.
So here’s to The Battle’s demise, in Jesus’ name, and the reminders in the midst of it all. We sincerely hope that this thing gets snuffed out. And for the love of your stomach, please don’t visit us in the next couple of days.