Hope you are well and not too terribly discouraged about the rapid dissolution of civil society. Of course you will be if your identity is found in politics or victimhood or success, or anything at all apart from Christ. If this life is all there is then surely the weight of its undoing is heavy indeed. But as for me, I find comfort in knowing that this is NOT all there is, that my Savior loves me and has a plan for me, and I do not need to flail about fretting over every little thing. In fact, for the last eight or so months, a verse that has been on repeat in my mind is this: “Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.” (Psalm 37:8). I need to remind myself daily to embrace the peace of Christ and observe just how often fretting leads to evil. Surely I’ve read Psalm 37 before but it has taken a tough 2018 for it to sink in.
One hard thing this year, that I blame squarely on the stress of the other hard things, was having a detached retina this summer. It is alarming to have your field of vision begin to close, almost like a shade is slowly being pulled over your eye. But more than the surgery, more than the vision loss, the thing that really freaked me out was being told that I had to lie face-down for six days. I would be able to get up and use the bathroom, but I would need to keep my head down. No upright position for six days. The doctor stressed that re-detachment was not uncommon and that keeping my head down was imperative. Stunned, I asked if being comatose for those six days was an option, but it wasn’t. In retrospect, it doesn’t sound so horrible. But on the front end I felt like I just could NOT do it.
You are probably wondering if I’m ever going to get to anything funny. Surely a detached retina is far from being inherently hilarious. Lying face down for 144 hours doesn’t sound like a barrel of laughs either. Ah, but you doubt the goodness of my God.
He gave me something hysterical to delight over. I cannot tell you how much of that face-down time I spent laughing. The thought of it still brings a smile to my face.
So here’s how it all began. Sweet friends delivered and set up their massage table while I was still in surgery. When I got home I was able to lie face down and breathe comfortably through the u-shaped head rest. My eye was covered with a plastic shield and tape, but every few hours we had to untape it to put drops in. The taping and untaping tore up the thin skin under my eye in no time. A bloody, inflamed eyeball with two sets of visible stitches topped off with a translucent bubble proved to be a really great look! Then the pitiful skin around my eye began to look ninety and angry. Poor Sammy would lay down on the floor to look up and talk to me through the hole in the massage table. But he was horrified by how I looked. I tried scooting my face over so he could only see my good eye. But even my good eye puffed up from being in that position so long.
Within the first twenty-four hours I noticed a little crack on the pleather of the massage table. Dub had been there when it was set up, so I asked him, horrified, “Dub was this crack there before?”
“I don’t think so,” he said.
Then a little while later I woke up and peeled my face off the table. Some of the table came with me! Right then a friend delivered some soup and I tried to brush off the black debris imbedded in my sticky, irritated skin, but there was too much. I had to accept the delivery with the speckling of pleather still there.
Pretty soon there were many cracks and the black dust like substance from the table was getting everywhere. I even worried it would get in my eye. I’d shake out the sheet I was lying on, but a little while later it would be riddled with table soot again.
By Day 3 the previously pristine table was utterly destroyed!
How incredibly embarrassing! I laid there laughing a bit to myself, but then with nothing but time on my hands, I started texting pics to family.
Then I started envisioning letting the thoughtful, unsuspecting owners pick up the table with no explanation whatsoever. “Thanks so much,” I’d say. Their faces filled with shock and awe.
It looks as if I turned cat-like and used it as a scratching post. The idea that simply lying on the table could wreak such destruction seems impossible.
I mean, look at it! Is it not hilarious?
The thing is this is not at all uncommon. Even in hard moments, if you have an eternal perspective, there are often some humorous nuggets. Mr. Rogers is often quoted as saying, when scary things happen, “Look for the helpers.” It’s great advice. Relatedly, when you’re in the midst of something hard, be on the lookout for the hilarious elements. My life has been a testament to the truth that some of life’s very best laughs are in the midst of the darkest hours.
Last week marked the one year anniversary of my mom’s passing. Even in her last couple days, my mom and I shared numerous soul-sustaining laughs.
Ecclesiastes says there is a time for everything — a time to laugh, as well as a time to cry — don’t doubt that the two can overlap. I can tell you that laughing while prostrate makes the hours pass much more quickly than Netflix or solitaire!
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1,4 NIV
Praying for some good laughs and maybe even some dancing for YOU this weekend!