Let me first just say I am not proud of my behavior. I didn’t even really try to be better. I was distant, angry, bitter, keeping score. Graciousness would not be a word used to describe me, I barely spoke once they appeared. Certainly before that, we laughed, we played, we all prepped the meal together with enthusiasm. Yet as soon as the brother and wife entered the scene, I became the keeper of all the family troubles, the years of unspoken wounds, the recent outbursts of listing injuries and irritations. I held it all, they were free to loosen the grip long held so tightly, they ate together and behaved pleasantly for a meal with their mother. As if coming down with the flu, I became sicker with each passing moment, the symptoms of each persons negativity resting within me, festering within me, infecting my ability to smile, charm, care. I was ill so they could be well, for one evening.
On the drive home, Chef was pleased, he was surprised, he felt the grace that comes from giving with no strings. He listed all the ways everyone joined. I was seething, my tongue tasting of vinegar and acid rather than the incredible pizzas and cake Chef had prepared. Normally we spend the drive rehashing the visit, me talking Chef down, finding light, spotting hope. This time, I passionately spewed out words that felt foreign, I wondered about them as they left my lips. I didn’t have sentences, I had no point. I only had the family disease of negative feelings bursting open, I couldn’t contain it any longer. Those emotions aren’t me, hours of sickness came to end. My Chef fed me grace, I vomited darkness. Like any bout of nausea though, once the stored up virus of emotions was ejected, I felt better. My poor Chef was surely bewildered that his cheerleader was not cheering, instead frenzily jeering. The gift I gave them all had run its course, I now contaminated my Chef. I sneezed fury, I didn’t control the pathogens. He changed course, he began his own list of wrongs. I discovered my stomach still hurt, the momentary relief was gone. Too ill to nurse him back to grace, I sought bedrest as soon as we arrived home.
I am not a score-keeper, I can’t exist in an environment that tracks wrongs and highlights injustices. I need light, I seek grace. I just cannot survive where truth doesn’t matter, arguments carry on for years. I breathe in reconciliation, my soul wants healing. I believe in apologies, I believe in forgiveness. Yesterday we gave my Mother-In-Law a birthday party with all of her sons and the local grandkids town, possibly the last party she will experience in her own home. I gave her a party with no animosity, with joy and light. Everyone allowed me to hold their grudges for safe keeping, my fever increasing with each hand-off. Somehow, it was okay. I know the way back to grace. Maybe, just maybe, they won’t collect all that they gave me. Maybe watching my disease progress will be a warning, an encouragement to wash their hands more often, to change their diets from anger to joy. Surely their souls aren’t beyond healing. I have hope, again. I have found my healing this morning. Still, I must ensure My Chef is not fully infected with the germs of my discontent. Lysol wipes and hot tea, hugs and love, I am eager to help him find his cure as well. Our faith heals us, we pursue a closer relationship with God with ardor. Like the flu vaccine, we may still get sick but our chances are better of making it through the long winter.
I sacrificed my wellness for one night. I am not proud of my behavior, it wasn’t pretty. The night though wasn’t about me. I would do it again, I hope I don’t have to. No one likes to be sick.