Do It Anyway
She didn’t want to go to school, and in truth I couldn’t really blame her.
When she was five years old, after months and months of trying to figure out the cause behind a massive skin rash she had and why she became irritable after she ate certain foods, we figured out that Mariana was allergic to dairy. ALL dairy. Cow’s milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, sour cream, butter, clotted cream (I guarantee you that Brian just read that and wondered what in the world clotted cream is), whipped cream … and anything that has any of those as an ingredient.
Her world changed for the better when we figured out that she had that allergy and went cold-turkey on all cow’s milk-based foods. Her system recovered, and she’s been symptom-free these past three-plus years. Except for the occasional slip-up. Like the one yesterday.
At lunch after church yesterday, I let the kids get some chocolate chip cookies. She had trouble getting bites that just had the dough, which we know from past experience does not harm her, and rather than skip the treat altogether, she decided to take a chance on the enormous chocolate chunks that stood like boulders in every half-inch of doughy goodness.
Turns out that those chocolate boulders were of the milk-based variety, and so Mariana spent a great portion of the rest of the afternoon and the evening with her insides feeling like bombs were going off in them. She had a devil of a time with it and swore she would never even look at a cookie again unless I made it. We were in the position of just having to wait it out as her body did what it needed to do.
That’ll take a lot out of you, and so when she didn’t want to go to school this morning – and I mean really didn’t want to go to school – I couldn’t blame her at all.
But I also couldn’t just let her stay at home. She was past the worst part of it all, and by this morning, she was just tired. No fever, no more cramping. Just good, old-fashioned fatigue.
We snuggled and talked as much as any school morning will allow for, which is to say approximately 27.98 seconds, which is hardly satisfying to a tired child who just wants to curl up with you in the glider rocker for some comfort, and off we went … later than I wanted to leave (what’s new?!) but not actually late for school (whew!).
Suffice it to say that in assessing the drive-by snuggle time that was all the clock would afford, Mariana was, in the words of Lady Catherine de Burgh from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, “most seriously displeased.” Somewhere in there she might have put her foot down and announced she was not going to school. (I’m sure this has never happened to anyone else.)
But get in the car she eventually did, and on the way to school, she and the boys and I talked about how we sometimes have to do things that we don’t want to do. We talked about how Daddy sometimes doesn’t feel like going to work, but he has to or we couldn’t live in our house and eat what we eat. We talked about how sometimes Daddy and I didn’t want to go to school when we were growing up, but we had to anyway. We talked about how sometimes I don’t want to do all the grown-up things I have to do and would much rather play or rest or take it easy instead, but then things wouldn’t get done that need to get done; and that only makes things harder the next day or the next time.
It occurred to me that that’s how it is so very, very often for us as believers when we look at what God has given us to do … what He, in fact, instructs and expects us to do:
• “Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17)
• “Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.” Isaiah 35:3
• “… bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to captives … comfort all who mourn.” from Isaiah 61:1-3
• “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
• “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
• “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32
• “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility or mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4
• “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
• and on and on and on and on and on.
But we don’t want to do those things. He’s been clear about what He expects of us and yet we are too tired. Or too busy. Or too focused on everything from the lighter things like fashion to the heavier things like debt. We find other ways to spend our days. We worry about the way the world is turning out, but instead of doing what the Creator of the world says to do about it, we turn on our TVs and our computers and we tune out.
Fortunately for us, as clear as God has been about what He wants and expects us to do, He has also been abundantly clear about giving us His love and forgiveness when we don’t do them. But does that mean that we’ve been given a pass, that we don’t really have to obey His teachings, that because we know He’ll love us even if we don’t do what He says that we can just skip the effort in the first place?
Is that what we would tell our children about whether we expect them to obey us, about whether they are expected to show up even if they don’t feel like it? Never.
Perhaps then, it’s time for us to re-evaluate what we tell God every. single. day. After all, He’s been whispering to this hurting world that He is coming … through us. Maybe it’s time we started making good on His word.