It had been five days. Five days since I had gone through the motions of our normal routine, and five days since I had been by myself to write and read and simply breathe. We were on day five of a nasty stomach virus that had seized my poor little daughter’s body, and the unpredictability of the past few days had me reeling and grasping for structure.
Just when we thought it had passed and she was better, she would cry out from the bathroom, wanting Mommy and not Daddy to help her with whatever had happened. And on this particular morning, Mommy had had enough. Mommy needed it to stop. Mommy needed a break.
I stood over the sink, warm salty tears streaming down my face into the soapy bubbles of dishwater. I hung my head, partly from emotional fatigue and partly out of shame. Five days of stomach flu is not much, after all, compared to what others are dealing with. Five days of stomach flu shouldn’t be enough to drain the wells of my maternal patience and compassion. Five days of stomach flu hadn’t been my illness, after all – physically, I felt fine.
All things considered, I shouldn’t have felt so sad. So desperate. So empty and, well, done.
But I did. And as I scrubbed oatmeal from that morning’s breakfast dishes, my mind wandered to a blog update from our current mission team in Belize. My self pity reached new levels when I thought about it. I wanted to be there, in Belize. I wanted to be ministering and making a difference and loving on the least of these in such powerful, exciting, and exotic ways. I wanted that. I needed that.
But as I walked back to the family room, answering yet another request for apple juice, I realized that this – this place at this time – is my mission field. This is where God has me right now. This is where His work for me is today.
This….this stomach flu is the greatest need that God has for me to fill right now. And tomorrow, who knows what it will be? As I take one more cup of apple juice to a nauseated child, I am giving a drink to someone in His name. As I keep loving and cuddling and holding her hair back even when I want to run away and bury my face in my pillow and cry myself to sleep….well, I am pouring myself out, as He instructs, to love others as He does. And when she is finally able to return to school and I have to brush the sand from her filthy little feet after a day of hard play, I will be fulfilling His command to wash her feet.
So yes…this place seems insignificant. It seems invisible and thankless and trivial. But to the one who takes that cup of apple juice, it is important. To the one who has someone there to love her as she is sick, it is appreciated. And to the One I mirror as I do those things, it matters.
Oh….and that stomach virus? We later found out it wasn’t a virus…..but that’s another story for another day.