It’s time for a childhood flashback. Do you remember “Honey I Shrunk The Kids”? Of course you do. If you watched it as a child, you probably wanted to ride an ant, sleep in a Lego, and eat from a cookie 135 times your size. Lately one particular scene resonates with me. Nick Szalinski is picked up by the bee, taken for a ride, and ultimately dropped into a flower. The distressed older sister calls up to the enormous flower, “Nicky! Get out of there! You’re allergic to pollen!” and the sneezing begins.
Well, welcome to North Carolina. Like many states that boast lovely pine, we are covered- totally painted yellow- with pollen from multiple kids of trees. Unfortunately, the allergies are severe in this house. Sleep is interrupted by coughing and cries, noses are faucets, and sinus pressure makes me wonder if we should get snorkels. It’s been a frustrating few weeks. Walking from the car to a building puts Firstborn into a coughing fit, causing nursery workers and parents to back away horrified with questions of what is wrong. I am seriously considering declaring that he has consumption or the Black Lung.
Like all responsible, exhausted, sneezing mothers, I looked for solutions:
-Air purifiers – Allergy medicine -Multiple hours of holding a whimpering, coughing child –Making Firstborn a Bubble Boy
So what do we do in frustration when our solutions are exhausted? Pray and go to God’s Word.
Join me in Genesis, won’t you?
Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Yep. I’m about ready to take dominion over the land. Unfortunately, I am reminded that even with our power over the earth, nature still kicks out butts on a regular basis. The weather alone is sending people to the doctors is droves. Tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, droughts, spiders—yes, I have fully dismounted my high-horse. It seems my capacity for patience is getting some cross-pollination. We have a total double whammy, creating new kinds and making the worker bees put in overtime.
Just as I hit my end point of sanity yesterday evening, a glorious little raindrop fell on my head. It was soon joined by its glorious friends. Sadly, my reaction was, “YES! Maybe a good rain will get rid of some of the pollen!” Seeing as I am not God or a rapper with lack a large stack of dollar bills, I lack much ability to ‘make it rain’. I exhausted my resources and had done all I can, but it only treated symptoms. I couldn’t do anything to fix the problem long-term. I think that is the circumstance when God does his best work.
Circumstances can have a habit of ‘pollinating’ our life, can’t they? The occasional snares are understandable and part of life- a really bad traffic jam or frustrating day with the kids can make life frustrating. On the other hand, there are problems like cancers, deaths, strained relationships, challenging pregnancies, deployments… the problems that are really nothing to sneeze at. These are the things that linger in the back of our minds and the forefront of our hearts. Women in particular have trouble pushing these to the background as we try to continue on with life. Fear, frustration, anger, and the dreaded feeling of helplessness can cover and saturate like a thick pollen.
When that happens there are certainly things we can do to improve the situation. We can clean out our hearts, do all we can to improve what we can, comfort and help others, and wait for it to pass. Still, we can’t fix the source of the problem or control it. That takes a good cleansing rain that we can’t cause.
As I work on patiently holding my Black Lung Baby and caring for the little one, I feel a little worn. I am so aware of my fragility as we three sniffle, sneeze, and suffer. I am so glad that God’s lap is big enough for more than two cranky children. I was sitting on the couch holding both coughing kiddos with a shirt covered in medicine and slime when I wondered this presumptuous gem, “If God is in control of everything and cares for us so much, why does the stupid weather and pollen have to be like this for weeks? How do thousands of people who can’t breathe bring him glory? UGH!”
It took about .3 seconds for my flesh to get a butt-kicking from the Spirit. I know that I have been mightily tested with this trivial issue. I have been forced to recognize my own limitations. My prayer life has exploded. I have had to put others’ needs before my own and put all the pressing matters of the house aside to hold and comfort my children- for hours- every day. After the third day it isn’t a phase- it is discipline. It is training. The problem really came when I wasn’t just able to speak. I wasn’t able to snap or speak harshly. In fact, I wasn’t able to cheer on or instruct either. That is when my lessons in gentleness and true selfless compassion came in.
My own throat swelled so much that I lost my voice, making my main method of parenting was interpretive dance. For an hour Firstborn whispered with me. By day 2 he stared at me confused wondering if I was telling him to bunt or steal second base. Day 4 I only had a vocal register of two octaves lower than usual; I hope my son won’t be scarred by thinking his mother sounds like Marvin Gaye. Gradually I was able to speak again and my habit of lovingly cuddling and comforting rather than forcing learning times or errands felt easier to do. Now it is back to finding a balance.
One thing I keep learning from the Old Testament is that the Israelites are allowed to suffer various problems for a while until they learn a spiritual point and cry out to God in their distress. Then God saves the day. Whether it is a miraculous rescue of Biblical proportions or a simple night of rain, God hears and answers.
As we sneeze, cough, and sniff today, I will try to remember that God’s lessons and pollen clouds are only for a season. Sanctification is eternal.