You know how when your kids come down with a bug and they catch it one after the other and it seems like they’re sick for weeks and the house is operating at about 48% potential and you’ve been puked on, sneezed on, and coughed on, you’ve rocked in the rocker ’til your butt hurts, you’ve been awake with all three of them in one night, you’ve spilled the bottle of infant Tylenol three times, you’ve pried the baby’s mouth open to take medicine 33 times, you’ve wondered a million times what medicine would be best for the baby (is it gas? teething? something Ibuprofen could help?), you’ve counted down the minutes until you can give the next round of medicine, you’ve washed all the bedding in the house twice, you’ve helped them blow their little noises a thousand times… and about halfway through it you just want to holler at them: BUCK UP, LITTLE BUDDIES!
And then, after they’re all well, you get sick. And you just want to die. And you wonder how your poor little offspring survived this awful thing, and you feel bad for being impatient with them.
Our kids were sick a couple weeks ago, and Beau and I both got sick last night. It started at bedtime for me with a chill and aches and pains that caused me to writhe in the bed. I finally had to take a bath to get myself under control. Actually, two baths — one at 11 p.m. and one at 4 a.m. Beau spent the night shifting between the couch and the recliner, caring for the baby as I pampered myself in the bathroom, and his aches and pains set in early this morning. This morning we both have a sore throat and we’re both aching from head to toe. Even my fingernails ache. Even my earlobes ache. You might say we’re a little blurry-eyed today.
It’s a yucky bug. Now I feel kinda bad for wanting my kids to toughen up when they had it.
Last night, as I tossed and turned through a half-cohesive train of thought, the flu that was wracking my body made it very clear to me how very healthy I feel 99% of the time. And I was struck by how blessed I am to have what I have… even though I am very undeserving of all of it.
At the risk of sounding like I’m bragging, I’m going to list some of the good things I have that I don’t deserve:
– A kid doesn’t pick the circumstances she’s born into, yet for some unexplainable reason I was born to two good parents on a ranch in Montana. My folks took me to church, came to all my ball games when I was in school, kept me outfitted in horses (!), and always let me be a part of the work on the ranch. (What girl doesn’t dream of that life? I am humbled that it’s been mine.) To top it all off, I was born in the United States of America, where I am safe, where I am rich compared to the majority of the world, and where I am free to raise my kids the way I want to and free to write on this screen whatever I want to.
– I didn’t know what I was doing, because I was only 21, but I picked a darn good husband. Actually, I think it was a God thing, because I didn’t really pick him; we just came together from opposite ends of the nation. An older friend of mine who’s been divorced something like four times advised me when I was engaged that any marriage is pretty much a crapshoot. And in all truth, our marriage could’ve gone any direction. We didn’t know each other that well when we got married and we sure couldn’t foresee the future. We definitely haven’t succeeded because I’m an expert at marriage. Yet though I am very undeserving — though I have been far from perfect in this union — our marriage remains a safe place for me to land. I am humbled that it is mine.
– These three beautiful, intelligent, fun kids of ours. Some people want children so badly and can’t have them and instead are carrying holes in their hearts, and my heart aches for those people, and I almost want to hide my complete little family because it seems too perfectly perfect for our broken world… almost too bright to look at. Because here we have our kids. Three normal pregnancies, 30 fingers and 30 toes. I am so undeserving of them. And I sure do make mistakes with them, and some days I still want to hide from them for a minute or two. But I am inevitably reminded of how inexplicably blessed we are to call them our own. Actually, they’re on lease — they are little eternal souls and for some reason God picked us to raise them and prepare them for eternity and I am, once again, humbled.
– Why am I so healthy? Why is my husband so healthy? Why are our kids so blessedly healthy? So many out there are suffering — you only need to walk through the health clinic to see that. So many hurt every single day the way I hurt last night. So many people more deserving of health than I receive diagnoses that they carry for a lifetime. I don’t understand why we Blakes are so healthy, and sometimes when I see someone else hurting I almost feel guilty that we have our health and others don’t. Our health is precious. It is fleeting. And a night like last night sure reminds us when we have been taking it for granted.
– This ranching lifestyle we lead is probably almost beyond the grasp of comprehension for folks who live in cramped quarters in other parts of the world. We are caretakers of a lot of land here, and stewards of a lot of animals. We have been entrusted with much, and our bosses mostly leave us alone. We can pretend that the vast prairie surrounding us is our own… we can dream about its future… and there is no one within miles to disrupt that. For many laborers, this job would seem like an undreamable dream. Yes, we are only employees here, but we are sure thankful for that check that comes faithfully whether cattle prices are high or low. We don’t own this ranch… but we own the experience.
– I am a child of God. I’ve always known it. Never doubted it. He has chosen me for His family. Why is it clear to me and not to another? I don’t know why. But I do know that He gave me the gift of writing and that I am to use it to honor Him. No matter who you are, I am no more deserving of any gift God gives than you are. You may not have what I have — health, kids, upbringing, partner — and I may irritate you a little bit because I do have those good things. I can’t explain any of that. But I do know one thing I have that you have, too, and that is an invitation to be a part of God’s family and accept his forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Just listen.
© Tami Blake