I am a very private person.
I cringe anytime I post anything revelatory about myself, whether on my blog or Facebook, especially where people I’ve known all my life can read it.
I’ve carefully constructed walls around myself. I think long and hard before I share any faults. Like a chess player, I’m thinking out possible ramifications.
I guess I have this need to be liked. I’d have ditched Facebook long ago if not for that notifications icon, showing me how many “likes” I have. How much of my life has been spent focused on improving myself so I’ll be worthy of being liked! No telling.
I cringe to tell you this about me.
The other day my three-year-old boy, who was supposed to be taking a nap, started wailing from his room. I rushed in there to discover he’d swallowed a coin. “Was it brown or silver?”
I plunged my finger to the back of his throat, hoping to either pull it out or cause him to vomit it up. I felt nothing, but he did gag. He panicked even more and clenched his jaw. I tried the Heimlich, patted him on the back, and tried reaching further down his throat.
My middle finger brushed the coin. No way could I reach it. He shook with fear.
I called the pediatrician and spoke with the nurse, who said, “Go to the emergency room!” The other kids were panicked.
I called my mom and asked her to stay with the other kids. The house was a wreck, but Mama understands, and she’d love me anyway.
I raced to the ER. The x-ray showed a quarter lodged in his esophagus. It was stuck tight, too far back to extract. They ordered an ambulance to send us to Vanderbilt. “If the quarter stays lodged, they’ll probably send you to the operating room.”
“But if it goes down? It’s so big!”
“Well, that will probably be OR too.”
Oh, please, no, God! Please!
I talked to my mom. “How are the kids?”
“Daddy and I are coming to the hospital. Lydia will take care of the kids.”
My stomach dropped. My new sister-in-law Lydia’s house is always immaculate. Always. She was coming over? Before I could get ready for her?
I slumped into a waiting room chair. Visions of what could happen, both at home and at Vandy, swirled in my head. I imagined spending my little boy’s birthday the next day, and for who knows how long after, in the hospital. I imagined Lydia never speaking to me again when she saw what a mess I am.
Speeding home to get clothes for a possible hospital stay, I cried out to God for help.
“Lord, please! Don’t let him need surgery!”
The rolling hills sped by, my tires screeching as I rounded corners.
My concern over Lydia’s opinion of me spilled over. “Lord, I try so hard to make people think I’m worthy of liking. But You know the truth. I’m weak. I’m foolish. I’m nothing!”
My breath came in gasps. “Lord, it’s okay if people don’t like me. You are the only thing good about me. Everything good about me is because of You. I accept that I’m weak and foolish and nothing.”
My breathing calmed. Steadier, I pulled in the driveway and raced through the house, answering questions and grabbing clothes. The house was a mess. Lydia would see the mess I am. I accepted it.
“Thank you for coming,” I told her, and meant it.
I stopped worrying and focused on praying for my boy. “Please, Lord. Don’t let him need surgery. You get that quarter out, please!”
At Vandy, I told the nurse how he’d tried to vomit several times but nothing had helped. “I’ll order some meds for the nausea,” he said.
I froze. “Please don’t! He’s just gagging because it’s right there at the back of his throat.”
I felt like a meddling mom, but it seemed the less medicated he was, the more clearly he could tell us how he felt. We waited for the doctor to come and decide about surgery.
Hours passed, and he gagged a couple more times. I didn’t know whether to pray the coin would stay or go down, so I just prayed and begged people to pray he wouldn’t need surgery. His tiny frame slumped on the bed broke my heart, and I realized afresh how much I loved my little clown.
It’s incredible how sitting in triage changes your perspective.
His face jerked. I grabbed the barf bag and held it under his mouth. His shoulders shook with the effort. I imagined I’d seen something dark fall into the bag with everything else, so I kneaded the bag. Could the quarter have come loose with all his lunch?
My fingers grasped something hard and flat.
I squealed! “Praise the Lord! Good job, Buddy!”
He looked at me confused. After a couple minutes it dawned on him that he felt better.
“Is da quarter outta my thwoat?”
“Yes, Buddy! You did such a good job!”
I told the nurse, who was thrilled.
We started texting our prayer warriors, many of whom were at prayer meeting listening to our pastor preach on Jonah.
I’ve never been so sorry for the whale!
When we got home, the house was clean, the kids were happy. Miraculously, Lydia didn’t seem to hate me. My parents, who’d come to relieve her once they got back from Vandy, were overjoyed to see us.
I saw my children with new eyes. My little boy went to bed, eager to wake up to his birthday the next day.
As I walked through my clean house, I was overcome with humiliation and wonder. Lydia’s and my mom’s undeserved kindness reminded me that God has always loved me, and I’ve never deserved it. Every good opinion people have of me is a gift from Him, and it’s definitely not based in any actual goodness of my own.
Anyone who doesn’t like me is well within their rights. All my talents and gifts aren’t what make me worthy – Jesus is. Everything else is smoke and mirrors hiding the mess I am.
This has changed me, and I hope I never go back to my quest for “worthiness.” I am worthy only because Jesus loves me.
And would you believe it?
My house is staying cleaner.