So, I have poison ivy. I don’t know where I picked it up, but it has spread with a vengeance- as it always does. I am equally frustrated and grateful for the experience though, and let me tell you why.
After four days of calamine lotion and hydrocortisone cream to no avail, I made it to the clinic. My second time at the same clinic in one week. Last time, it was a sore throat and cough that I couldn’t shake. The answer: Flonase. A unique experience, but effective. This time, she prescribed steroids. Upside, no more sleepless nights up itching. Downside, no nursing for about six days.
I thought it would be great to have a break from nursing, but I found myself a little sad. What if he doesn’t love me the same because he doesn’t need me? Interesting thoughts come out when you realize you have taken something for granted- complained about it even (see my post entitled “Breastfeeding…it sucks”)- only to realize you will miss it. Go ahead- think of something you are currently taking for granted. Now you might relate. Well, I missed it the most at 2am as my son is wailing in the arms of his father, who is frantically, tiredly trying to convince him to take a bottle. I laid on the bed and just cried a bit. I felt helpless to withhold such an easy comfort that had only recently become a poison to him.
A few days ago, Leli discovered I had poison ivy as she saw light pink splotches of calamine all over my body. She asked a lot of questions and made me feel like a leper as she pointed and said, “What’s THAT?” Later, she was talking to her father in the living room and said, “Jesus rescues us; he takes away all of our poison ivy.” It was so interesting that she phrased poison ivy like sin and not like a sickness.
Poison ivy is a lot like sin. Our bodies- our souls- have a natural reaction to it and it inflames and spreads. In my case, it even affected and hurt others- my poor son and husband. Today, I think I even found some dots on Leli, and she has taken on some of my “sin,” just as our children can tend to do (work with my analogy here- I am not saying poison ivy is a punishment for sin. Just a bodily visual of a spiritual reality).
My point in all of this is to say that often that thought of sin gets me really down. I look at our world, and I get scared of the spread of sin. I feel helpless to stop it. I actually get to the point where I expect more bad things to happen than are happening (for example, wow! my kid did not get kidnapped today!). This gets me really down and scared. As Yoda so wisely put it, “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to the Dark side.”
Two things gave me great hope and comfort as I slowly allow myself to sink into these dark waters. First, I read the following from an author that I love, Shauna Niequist:
I so relate with this!
Second, I read Romans 5. I was telling Jesus that I need Him to convince me of His love for me, as I often forget and need the Word to stand on. I read about the great love He has for us in that while we were still screw ups, He died for us. Then it goes on to say that sin spread through Adam. It is the nature of sin to spread, once it enters the system. However, just as sin did that, EVEN MORE SO, grace spreads through what Christ did for us. Hallelujah. And I see that grace! I see it in the amazing grace of His presence guiding my family through sickness, unemployment, and even a recent robbery! I see His grace through His people! We have been given money by strangers, friends, and family, been given household goods and meals by friends (one is making dinner in my kitchen as I type!), and been provided for in the strangest ways! Grace spreads.
My final thought of the day: the trials highlight the grace. I wouldn’t appreciate my bond with my son- and blessed things like health insurance- without this ivy. In VBS today, the Bible lesson was on Joseph, and the illustration was watching whipping cream and a little sugar get whipped into whip cream. The beaters represented trials. They can make unlovely things lovely in an unexpected way.
So, as you go through your trial today- however big or small, just remember this: the grace is spreading- more strongly than the ivy ever could! Sidenote: the picture with this post is poison ivy on my tattoo of grace written in Hebrew. How appropriate.
Light shines in the darkness. His presence is there- and really that is the only sure thing in this whole world. Lean into it. The whip cream is coming.