We had made it three steps into the store, when my son began making an unpleasant but familiar retching sound. I didn’t even get a chance to think. He had already thrown up all over me and the floor of Rite Aid Pharmacy. Helpless and stuck in a puddle of sickness, I was not sure what to do next.
Almost eight years as a mom and this was a first for me. I had been ignorantly hopeful that I could escape a public display of sickness by one of my own.
My thoughts were interrupted by my crying son who was vomiting a second time, this time all over the store’s New England Patriot’s holiday merchandise display. Standing behind me, my daughter looked on in both horror and shock. I could relate! My composure and confidence were gone. I wholeheartedly yelled for help.
Out of the aisles, from every direction, a team of people came. The first responder was a friendly, emphatic cashier. She spoke to my son in a soothing and comforting voice, “It’s okay, honey. Everyone gets sick sometimes.” A stout, unemotional, authoritative manager came next. With her she carried an empty, plastic candy container which she tossed at me with skill and the authority as to say, you are a mom, you know what to do, now do it. The third team member was a pleasant young man rolling a mop and bucket towards us with a smile. Cheerfully and dutifully, he cleaned up the mess with no judgments or a bad attitude, making small talk as he mopped. When the cleanup was complete, our $300 + damaged merchandise bill was forgiven, and we were sent on our way with our souvenir plastic candy container. What had just happened???
Unfortunately, this was not the only sickness that I have been dealing with. From the outside I seemed a little tired but otherwise healthy. But in the weeks leading up to the pharmacy fiasco, I have been struggling with sickness of my own. I had let my guard down and allowed lies, self-doubt, discouragement, lack of faith, joy, and hope a place to take hold and grow in my heart and mind. I was tired, some days in a very bad mood, and everything seemed just plain difficult. I tried to pull myself out of it by halfhearted prayers, routine Bible readings, and depending on the prayers of others on my behalf.
I kept trying to heal myself with everything I knew how to do. And I wondered why I wasn’t “getting better.” It wasn’t until I was completely helpless, sinking down in my own puddle of sickness, not knowing what else to do, when I called out wholeheartedly to God, “HELP!”
Out of bends and corners of my heart and mind, the TEAM emerged. A peace that I had prevented myself from receiving started soothing the cracks of my weakened heart and mind. I heard the conviction of the Holy Spirit telling me, you know what to do, now do it! Verses and Bible passages that I passively read before, beckoned me to take a second look. I reread passages about joy and thanksgiving through suffering, identity in Christ, faith, hope and love. I let the words linger and impress on my heart.
It was work. Some days were very hard.
I am still working on it. Some days are still hard.
But with God’s help, I am shifting my perspective and working on setting my eyes to see the good things happening around me. That means even in the sickness, sleepless nights, the hard stuff, the humiliating stuff there is always, always good stuff to see and blessings to be found. Blessings like emphatic cashiers and cheerful, throw-up-cleaner-uppers.
I am persevering through doubts and lies by repeating and dwelling on the truths that I read. I am constantly resetting my mind to think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8.) I have decided to surround myself with people that are uplifting, loving, and that have my best interests in my mind. And I am working to let go of control- my failing, imperfect, human strength and working on holding on to the perfect, all-powerful, never-failing strength of God.
There really is no I in TEAM. Whatever you are struggling with today, I hope you take a moment to surround yourself with a team of loving people, a God who cares deeply for you, and depend on the Holy Spirit to convict and guide you. Shift your eyes to notice the good things. Find laughter in the difficulties. Come away from life’s situations with souvenirs of peace, joy, and thanksgiving.