March and I are not friends. I just decided this.
First of all, there is the obvious trouble that all Mainers are experiencing, which is that winter doesn’t seem to want to take a rest already. I’m pretty sure that the snow, which most years I usually like (Am I getting old?), is going to last until Independence Day. They might have to plow for the parade. And the freezing rain this morning wasn’t really on my list of things I like to wake up to. The Australia-sized pothole in front of my house has been a vast ice rink for a good few weeks. But that is all old news, and I guess we’ve all said our piece about the weather.
Second, I have recently started a lovely new job, and I feel like I have had to call out or leave early almost as often as I have worked. Why? Because my family had THE PLAGUE. I would say we had the stomach flu, which would be inaccurate because flu is a respiratory illness, so I will use its proper name: gastroenteritis. And since I am a not-so-closet emetophobe (I’m DEATHLY AFRAID of the dreaded tummy bug!), this was terrible news. I have often said I would endure a cold for the rest of my life if it meant I would never have such nightmarish ailments as those that come with gastroenteritis again. I don’t know that I actually mean that, but I say it when I’m feeling dramatic about recent episodes of involuntary bodily fluid ejection. And since no one has ever asked me if I wanted to go through with the trade, I guess I can keep on using the proclamation as testimony to my complete and utter abhorrence of said illness. It has been one week and one day since onset of symptoms, and though the worst of it was over in a day or two, my poor family was down and out all week (on top of the kids all having colds, mind you), and today is the first day I have felt even 99% percent of my usual self. I missed my best friend’s surprise 30th birthday brunch. I have scheduled and rescheduled and rerescheduled no less than fifty doctor/dentist appointments, fitness classes, work obligations, and parent-teacher conferences. My husband, (poor man), who had the (second) worst case of the plague in the house, also has a huge project due for school in approximately twenty-four hours. Not to mention, the galley and cover proofs of my book needed to be… well, proofed and signed off on to keep this ginormous, heavily-weighted publishing ball rolling. Did I mention the baby is potty training? If I were a swearing woman, I’d probably insert a few expletives here. Some good ones.
Somewhere, however, between the snow, sleet, freezing rain, endless loads of sour laundry, the restocking of my barren refrigerator, and my feeble, post-sickness climb to the top (bottom?) of Mt. Dishmore, I remembered something. Count it all joy. There are people in the world going through so much worse. People who have lost loved ones, their jobs, their homes, their freedoms. People who are suffering, I mean real suffering–the kind my little brain can’t even really fathom because I haven’t been there. No, being sick is not fun. Stress is not fun. Anxiety is not fun. But if I take a few minutes to turn back to God’s word, I see that in it, He asks us to do something that is really, deeply difficult: to consider our trials a blessing. James 1:2-4 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” Even if you are not a Bible-believer, you’ve heard the old adage: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!”
So, March. I count you joy. You were exhausting. You were temperamental. You made me think about packing my family up and moving to the Equator. (And I know I’m not alone in that!) But you also reminded me that this life, complete with all its hardships, is a gift, and that each day I am working towards a better version of myself.
The kids are back at school today, tomorrow is April 1st, which means Hans’ project will be done, and I just received word that The Sky We Walk Upon has gone to the printers. Hooray! There is a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. It’s called the sun, and tomorrow, when it comes out, there will be an Australia-sized puddle in front of my house for the baby to stomp in. Count it joy. Count it all joy.