The Mess I Am

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?”

“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!”

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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.

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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.

 

 

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8 thoughts on “The Mess I Am

  1. Rebekah, I loved this post. Praising God with you for the happy ending not only for your son but you as well.

    My little guy swallowed a penny a few years back. We had a few token U.S. pennies in Czechia and he came to ask us what would happen if someone swallowed one?

    His older sister told him, that the person would get sick and die and he burst into tears. I googled to see what we should do. He didn’t seem to be in pain and said he felt fine. But later a few hours after he went to sleep, he woke up crying and said his belly hurt and that he felt like throwing up. I was just like you … worried sick but thankfully, my husband reminded us to pray and we prayed and prayed. Hubby took him to ER while I stayed home with the girls. The penny came out the other end he was fine.

    When he was even younger he stuck a bean up his nose and we couldn’t pull it out and off we went to the ER.

    Our labor never seems to end does it? But the joy of being a mama outweighs the pain. 🙂 Have a blessed Sunday!

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    1. Thank you, Hulda! Praise the Lord both our stories ended so well! Yes ma’am, we are both SO blessed. God is so good to remind us just how blessed. ❤ Love you, my friend, and I pray things are going well for you these days! Can't wait to read your writing, but I understand about needing a break. I know God will give you the right words in His time. 🙂

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  2. Rebekah, I just love you all the more for sharing your heart here. I’m glad your son is ok! Scary stuff! My daughter swallowed some magnetic toys and a penny when she was a toddler and off we went to the dr too. Thankfully, all went well. And I totally get where you’re coming from regarding the messy house business. I’ve had similar experiences (which I’d never have chosen for myself) but which ended up being a strangely disguised gift. Thrilled for you that this event was a milestone in letting God and others love you – the real you. 🙂 Have you heard Healing Begins by Tenth Avenue North? A friend of mine told me about it once when I was feeling freaked about opening up about something. Love that song. Love you more! 🙂

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    1. I love you too, Pearl! Thanks so much for your words. You’re right. I’d have never dreamed so many other people struggle like this, and it has blessed me so much to know I’m not alone.

      That’s amazing about your daughter. I’m glad everything turned out okay. The nurses told me lots of kids swallow things. I remember swallowing a jawbreaker as a kid, and it was terrifying.

      God bless, D.o.t.S.! 😀

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  3. Hi Rebekah! Thanks for sharing this story. I’m happy that the quarter came up and out! Whew! What a tale he’ll have to tell his whole life.
    I swallowed a quarter when I was 6 years old. On my way to the swimming pool in a car full of kids. My brother noticed me choking. The car stopped. Everyone piled out. One kid ran to get our neighbor who was a volunteer firefighter. He came running and picked me up by the ankles and shook me! I, too, puked, but no quarter. I ended up swallowing it. Then I had to go home and my mom called the doctor. He said, “No worries. It’ll pass in 2-3 weeks.”

    I had to sit on a potty chair every day and my mom had to look for that quarter every day. Now that was humiliation for me.
    Alas, one day, I pooped it out! I was so excited. My mom washed it all up and let me go to the store to buy a candy bar. The End!

    Funny how we remember stories from others sharing their stories. I haven’t thought about swallowing that quarter in years. And yet, here I am in my fifties and I can still remember it like it happened yesterday.

    Praise God quarters come out!
    Michelle 🙂

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  4. Rebekah, you captured the attention of every mother with this frightening yet endearing tale.

    It often amazes me that even in the midst of a serious situation (child in hospital) I am still able to worry about trivial matters (the state of my house).

    May God bless your mother and Lydia for their kindness that day.

    Sometimes scary times give us clearer focus to determine what truly is (and isn’t) important.

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    1. Exactly, Mrs. Debra. I was so ashamed of my pride as it was happening. How can I be worried about my house when this is happening?! But I was. Thank you for the way you said that, because it’s been a source of shame for me. And yes, God bless my sweet Mama and Lydia. And thank God for changing my focus! He is so good. ❤ Thanks for reading and commenting! It means a lot. 🙂

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