Seeking to be transformed into the image of Jesus

A Voice in the Desert

Thoughts of a pilgrim on a journey toward Jesus...


Father Hunger, Father Wound

947204_10152757958420324_1640118380_nFor some, Father’s Day is a happy occasion. It’s a day to remember fondly times playing catch in the backyard or times out on the lake; it’s a time to remember getting advice that only later became wisdom or a big hug when it was needed most; it’s a day to remember a father’s love and concern or his faithful example. But for others, Father’s Day is painful. It’s a difficult day with broken memories of broken times or of absence – physical or emotional. It’s a day that is dreaded or ignored.

Whether we recognize it or not, each of us has what one author has called a “father hunger”. It is a longing we have for our father’s assurance and approval to comfort us and affirm us. Many will do almost anything to find it because of the deep validation it brings. When we do not find it from our earthly father’s, we will seek it somewhere else. A father’s love, a father’s acceptance and approval is “more important than that of any other man, and of a completely different quality than the affirmation of a woman. Until and unless we get it, every male relationship will somehow be our unmet father, for good or ill.” When we do not find love and affirmation from our fathers, the father hunger becomes a father wound.

Let me pause to affirm the importance of a mother’s love. Without question it is possible for us to experience a mother wound if a mother’s love is for whatever reason withheld. It can be even more devastating than a father wound. But the reality is that it is more common for a father to be absent physically, emotionally, or spiritually in relationship to his children. Generally speaking, a mother’s love is a constant from birth. There is something instinctive and constant about it. A mother’s love seems so often to “go without saying”. There is a natural bond between mother and child. But, while many fathers find it very natural to love their children from birth, there is a sense in which a father chooses to love his child; chooses to show love and affirmation in a way that is decidedly different from that of a mother.

This is a far bigger issue than I understand or have answers to offer. The father hunger and father wound affect both men and women but it does seem more devastating, in many ways, for men (which is my focus here). Without a father to guide direct them from boyhood to manhood many men feel insecure and that they have to prove their manhood all their lives because they did not have a father, or some other male, who told them they had what it takes.

One author suggests that “even though there are no guarantees in life, we (fathers) can help our own sons by sharing 2015-06-01 18.31.11our inner lives with them, our thoughts, feelings, dreams and hurts.” He suggests that what most men require is respect and as a boy growing up he longs for his father to be proud of him with that pride growing over time to respect and honest admiration. “If dad waits until junior’s a teenager, it’s too late. That honoring of the man in the boy is what invites the boy to join the club of men” (emphasis his).

Some men overcome the father wound by pursuing the visions and ideals of men they meet along the way. They may become the best men a society knows because they are driven to overcome the father hunger they may not even know they have. “They sometimes learn to seek, to desire and to trust that God is that loving and compassionate Daddy they always wanted.”

Too often it seems, the hunger festers and becomes a wound that is passed on in a myriad of ways. Let me suggest just a few things we can do as fathers to help prevent the father hunger from becoming a father wound in our children, but especially our sons. I realize what I offer may seem like common sense, but perhaps a reminder is just what we need.

1. Affirmation – Our sons long to know we are proud of them. They long to hear, “Well done,” or “I’m so proud of you!” We also show our affirmation by being at their games or concerts…by making them a priority over our work or ministry…by letting them know that they are important and matter. But even if we go to every event, we still need to say the words: I love you! I believe in you! You have what it takes! Well done!

2. Affection – At some point as my boys grew up, I started feeling a bit uncomfortable with physical affection. At times Angie has to remind me that it’s something they both need. Hugging our boys is an important way we show love and affirmation. Wrestling and rough housing and horsing around is good too. It is a way for us to communicate to them our respect; our love; our acceptance. It may not always feel comfortable or natural, but it’s an important element in helping our boys become men.

2014-08-01 13.07.293. Acceptance – Over time, we need to welcome our boys to manhood. In non-western cultures there are rites of passage that help in that process. In recent years groups have tried to provide something like that in the US (like the Boys Scouts, Ransomed Heart Ministries, and Raising a Modern Day Night for example) One of the things I’ve tried to do with my sons, but know I could have done better, is to plan a year for each of them in which we intentionally read and discuss important books or watch and discuss meaningful movies. I planned hikes and road trips that added opportunities for them to plan and execute their plan. We had fun, but we also had purpose. My intention has been to discuss what it means to be a man and to affirm that they have what it takes. I’m in the middle of Jonathan’s year, but with both of them I see how it helps in transitioning to more than a father-son relationship; we become friends/peers.

I am thankful for my father who was an incredible example of each of these things. I heard many times that he loved me and was proud of me. He was always ready to give me a hug or a pat on the back. And I’ll never forget the day he first invited me to join his friends to complete their foursome to play golf…in one small act, my Dad communicated acceptance and that he believed I was ready to be considered one of the men.

I pray this Father’s Day would be a day of happiness and fond memories for you…but if it isn’t, I pray you would find in your Heavenly Father the affirmation, affection, and acceptance your heart longs for and the healing of your father wound. For those of us who are fathers, may we endeavor to love our children well. May we equip our sons with what they need to become men after the Father’s heart.


26 Things I Love About My Wife

This past week Angie and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary. In honor of this momentous occasion and to honor my amazing wife I offer you (in no particular order) twenty-six reasons I love Angela Halaby Schupp…

1. She is the most intentional person I know. Everything she does has a purpose.

2. She is learning to have fun and not be so serious. She recognizes that it’s ok to relax and is learning to do that too…on purpose!

3. She is the most selfless person I know. She is not about ego or reputation or promotion. She loves people and lives to serve God and others.

4. She has a great sense of humor. She will admit that telling jokes isn’t her strongest suit (one might say she lacks comedic timing) but she understands good humor and knows how to laugh at life and things that are just plain funny.

5. She is extremely good-natured. Related to her sense of humor is a thick skin that is able to take playful ribbing. She often finds herself outnumbered in discussions and when the jokes are flying at the dinner table but she takes it in stride and does it with grace.

6. She says what she means. Angie is a straight-shooter. She is h0nest and straight forward and you rarely don’t know what she means or thinks.

7. She is growing in grace. Despite being a straight-shooter, she recognizes that words can harm and has grown incredibly in being able to say hard things in tactful ways.

8. She is a prayer warrior. If you want to know for sure that someone is praying for you, ask Angie to add you to her list. She is the most faithful pray-er I have ever met. Every day she prays for many, many people and she delights to pray for specific needs or whatever the Holy Spirit lays on her heart. It’s exciting to see the ways God answers too!

9. She is an avid learner. Angie reads a lot. It has always been a hobby of hers and she is good at taking time to read books that encourage and edify her. More than that, she is always wanting to learn – about her faith, her family, her profession, life.

10. She is incredibly supportive. Angie has always been a wife who supports and encourages me – even when she wasn’t sure about what it was I was pursuing (for example, training to run a marathon). She has always been a mother who supports her children selflessly as well. She is an encouragement verbally and she is willing to help by doing the legwork, picking up slack around the house, or whatever the situation calls for.

11. She is a gifted and capable woman. There isn’t much Angie can’t do if she puts her mind to it. And there isn’t much she doesn’t do well.

12. She is willing to ask for help. While she has always been independent, she has learned what she can and cannot do. She knows what she needs and what she can’t do on her own and is willing to ask for help and to depend on others.

13. She is honest about who she is. Angie is unpretentious. She is honest about her weaknesses as well as her strengths and is willing to ask for help when she needs it.

14. She makes people feel valued and significant. Angie remembers peoples names. She remembers things about them. She asks good questions. She listens. People know she cares and they feel important around her, because to her they really are.

15. She is an encourager. This is not something natural to Angie. She has always been an “actions-speak-louder-than-words” servant. But over the years she has learned to speak words of encouragement to people. She notices what they do and try and is quick to praise and affirm.  She also recognizes when things don’t go so well and has an apt word ready to spur the person on. She’s a great cheerleader…and it comes from the heart.

16. She is a “homemaker.” I don’t mean this in the traditional sense – because she isn’t a stay-at-home mother or wife, but she treasures her family and her home and works hard (despite her busy schedule) to make our house a home. We have almost always eaten dinner as a family. We often have game nights. We do things together and try to keep control of our schedule. Our house is a home and it is because of Angie’s commitment to keep it that way.

17. She is generous. Angie regularly gives sacrificially of her time, her possessions, her expertise – or anything God has given her. She desires to be a blessing to others so she holds all she has with open hands.

18. She is a good steward. Angie is also very thrifty and careful with what she has. She tries not to waste her time, her possessions, her expertise – or anything God has given her. She wants to use the gifts she’s received wisely and not waste them.

19. She is a traveler. She has traveled extensively, but that isn’t what I mean. I mean Angie is on a journey. Her life is about walking the path God has laid before her and she is pursuing Him. Her desire is to walk faithfully and obediently so that one day He will say to her, “Well done.”

20. She is faithful. Angie is faithful in her walk with God – reading the Word and praying each day. And more than that she is faithful to honor her promises and to her family, friends, and calling.

21. She is loyal. If Angie is your friend, she will stand with you through nearly anything. When others might walk away, she is true. I have rarely seen a person so loyal.

22. She is hospitable. Not only does she welcome people into our home and make them feel welcome, she creates space for others to feel comfortable and loved being themselves.

23. She is joyful. Life has not always been easy for Angie, yet she always has a song in her heart and on her lips (and if you have heard her sing, you know that’s a good thing!). She has chosen not to be defined by circumstances but to choose to be joyful despite the challenges and the hard things.

24. She is affectionate. Angie is ready to give a hug (or kiss where appropriate!). She is warm and loving and not afraid to show it.

25. She is human. All of these things I’ve listed are true. Angie is amazing! But she isn’t perfect. She makes mistakes. And she isn’t invincible. She has bad days and days her feelings are hurt or her pride is bruised or she barely makes it through. She experiences life’s just hurts like all of us. She faces them physically (in fact she has dealt with chronic pain issues for many years) and emotionally (she has struggled with depression even longer). And each morning she wakes ready for a day full of new challenges.

26. She admits her mistakes and asks forgiveness. Angie owns up to things when she is at fault and she isn’t afraid to say “I’m sorry.”

These twenty-six things just scratch the surface of all the things I love about Angie. I know that as soon as I hit post I will think of so many I should have added or put instead…but wait a few years and I’ll make a new list and try to include those as well!

Thank you, Angie, for twenty-six amazing years! I look forward to many, many more! I love you!

~ Rick

Arabic Words/Phrases I Wish We Had In English

As most of you know, Angie and I lived in Jordan for almost fifteen years. We studied Arabic and became fairly fluent. We loved learning Arabic phrases and idioms that communicated thoughts and ideas better than any literal use of language could. In fact, some of the phrases were so unique to Arabic that we continue to use them interspersed with English comments when English words just won’t do!

Recently my father-in-law shared an article with my son about Arabic phrases Deric Gruen wishes we had in English (see his post here). Of the five he listed I regularly used three when I was in the Middle East – saha (صحة used for sneezes, coughs or just to wish “health” for a person); yallah (يلا let’s go; time to get moving); insha’allah (إن شاء الله “if God wills” – used a lot in various ways). But the article got me thinking about my favorite words and phrases I wish we had an English equivalent for…

1. hayk (هيك)= “that’s the way it is” – This is an all-time favorite. Imagine your child asking you one of those questions you don’t want to answer, instead of getting mad and yelling, “Because I said so!” wouldn’t it be better to be able to say, in a calm, cool voice, “Hayk.” That’s just the way it is. Or when you’re in geometry class and you don’t want to do the proof…”hayk” (ok, that one might not gain you any points).

2. ya halla (يا هلا) = “welcome” or “make yourself at home” – This is actually a contraction of the more formal ‘ahlan wa sahlan (أهلاً وسهلاً) which is used all the time in the Arabic world where hospitality is a virtue and obligation. It has the idea that you are part of the family and our home is wide open to you. So while English has a way to say “welcome”, we don’t have the rich invitation and warmth behind the word. Granted, even the Arabic word can be said as a formality, without the heart of it, but that’s true of any language. I always loved the depth and the beauty of the idea that when I say ya halla, I am welcoming you in a significant way.

3. ma’laysh (معليش)= “don’t worry about it” or “no big deal” – I’m not entirely sure of it’s origins. I’ve heard it’s a contraction of three words, but don’t know. It is colloquial so not usually written. Anyway, ma’laysh is a multi-purpose phrase that can be used to tell someone the spilled milk is no big deal or to ask permission to do something…you don’t mind, do you? It can also take on the equivalent of, “meh, whatever.” Very versatile word!

4. haram (حرام)= “shameful” or “forbidden” – It is used to describe things that shouldn’t be done or eaten. But it has come to be used in unfortunate situations to describe things that shouldn’t be. Somebody is sick? Haram. Someone lost a job? Haram. Someone cheated me? Haram on him/her! (shame on him/her…and maybe me…)

5. ‘akeed (أكيد)= “definitely” or “for sure” – This is sort of the antithesis of insha’allah which often takes on a “hopefully” sort of air. ‘akeed leaves no doubt. When Angie and I would schedule an appointment with an Arab and they’d say, “‘insha’allah” we would often say, “Not ‘insha’allah, ‘akeed! to convey the point that this needed to happen. It wasn’t always effective, but it often brought a chuckle and got our message across.

Those are my favorites…but for those who are Arabic speakers, what Arabic words do you wish had English equivalents?

From Young and Brash to Older and More Gracious

This is a post I’ve been thinking about for a while. I was having lunch with one of my best friends from high school this week and shared the idea with her and she remembered a difficult conversation we had had during the period mentioned below. It served as confirmation to me that I should share it. I hope it’s received in the spirit with which it’s intended! ~ Rick

Dear Family and Friends,

There aren’t all that many things I regret in life. For the most part I have tried to live by treating others as I would want to be treated. I have sought to be respectful of others and their opinions. I have tried to be generous and kind. I have wanted to be fair and gracious. While I think I have done reasonably well, there was a period of my life that I know I wasn’t very gracious. I wasn’t very kind. I was zealous and perhaps even rabid in the way I shared and defended my beliefs. I was passionate…but I wasn’t very tactful. At times I was downright mean.

I don’t remember everyone I offended. I don’t remember all the people I lambasted. But I know it is more than I care to remember. And I’m sorry. I am really, truly sorry. I ask your forgiveness. I wish I had known then what I’ve learned over the years and would have communicated the same truths in a loving, gracious way. I wish I would have been more respectful of the ways we differed. I wish I wouldn’t have been so judgmental – whether you were wrong or not, I was wrong in the way I communicated and treated you.

I don’t know how many people I might have turned off to ideas they might have been open to listening to or discussing. I don’t know how many people heard me and tossed me into the category of hypocrite or extreme fundamentalist. I’m not really worried about those labels anyway; I’m more concerned that the deep, important truths I believed then and continue to believe now were marginalized or ignored because I was a poor messenger. And I deeply regret that.

I recognize that even if I had spoken with words full of grace and tact we might have left the conversation with different beliefs. I know that I may not have convinced you of anything. I don’t mind that. But I am concerned that maybe you walked away doubting my love for you or my part in our friendship. I fear that my actions may have led you to reject the things I believe, not on their merit or lack thereof, but because of me.

So, please, please forgive me. Please know that with time comes (at least sometimes) wisdom. If I did offend you, perhaps you’ll tell me and we can sit down over a cup of coffee and I can apologize in person. We don’t even have to revisit our original conversation unless you want to get some things off your chest! It would be great just to spend time together and talk.



The Practice of Being Present

I suppose all of us have had the experience of speaking to someone and after a story or question expecting a reaction or an answer and instead getting a blank expression. After a moment of awkward silence the person might snap back to attention and embarrassingly apologize for “zoning out”. Sometimes it’s humorous but often it is insulting or feels downright rude. We like it when the people we’re speaking to give us their attention and stay present to us in the conversation.

This week I’m preparing some video lessons for a group that is exploring how to experience a more intimate, personal relationship with God. My role is to cast vision and discuss practices that can move people in that direction – or at least create space for the Holy Spirit to work in their lives. In my reflection and preparation I’ve been reminded of how important it is to maintain an attitude of attentiveness and to remain “present” and open to God throughout the day. There are so many ways he communicates to us; if we fail to remain “present”, we will miss it.

It can sometimes feel like life is too full or too busy to be able to hear God. We may feel like caring for children or writing reports – or whatever our busyness – crowds out God’s voice or gets in the way of really paying attention. I appreciate what Jean Stairs wrote in Listening for the Soul:

Becoming more conscious of God is not so much about seeking a mystical, out of this world or end of life’s road kind of religious experience, but rather developing a deeper awareness and appreciation of how our everyday experiences abound in the mystery and presence of God. The ordinary events of our experience should not be in the way or apart from the way to living in the presence of God, but the way to it (emphasis mine).

God wants to meet us in our every-day life. He has promised he is with us always (Matthew 28:20) and will never leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). There is nowhere we can go that he isn’t right there with us (Psalm 139:7-12). While there is great value in taking time away from normal life activities to seek after God, we usually can’t do that very often. We can start the day with time in God’s word and in prayer. We can take time daily to spend in silence and solitude. But we can also learn to stay present throughout the day to God and open to his breaking into our lives.

In our relationship with God, what does it mean to “be present” to him? How can we live in a posture of “being present” to him? The following are thoughts that are mostly not original with me, but I cannot find where I’ve collected them over the years!

  1. Staying in the moment – we have a tendency to rush through life, moving from one activity to the next or even thinking ahead to what’s coming instead of being full present in the “now”. We need to learn to be fully where we are in the moment – present to others and to the task at hand. Certainly there are times when we are doing things that this is not needed, but too often we multitask or check out when we need to stay present in the moment.
  1. Really seeing things – not looking through them (this goes for people too!). We have a tendency to make assumptions or to feel like we already know where things are going. This is closely connected to staying in the moment. It encourages us to slow down and to be aware of what is rather than making assumptions. Rather than forming our response or moving onto the next thing, we need to pay attention. I am often tempted to do this when reading Bible passages that are familiar. I know what it says, but if I check out I may miss how God wants to speak through the verses to me in my life situation today. In the same way, if I assume I know where a conversation is going, I dishonor the other person and may miss important information. In my relationship with God I may miss something he wants me to see or experience or hear.
  1. Looking at the ordinary with fresh eyes – Have you ever stopped to think how amazing it is that you can pick up a ball and throw it and have it go (more or less) where you aim? Or that you can mix certain ingredients that alone taste horrible but together are delicious? There is so much around that if we were to stop and really pay attention to it, we might be amazed!  Barbara Brown Taylor has written, ““Earth is so thick with divine possibility that it is a wonder we can walk anywhere without cracking our shins on altars.” I often find myself captivated by a smile or the way the wind blows across a field or the way a good author phrases the most common things in poetic beauty. How might God want to speak to us if we would pause to look at the ordinary and mundane with an openness to seeing it afresh?
  1. Being available to God – If God did speak to me or was to do something that was obviously him around me, are would I obey? Would I slow down to respond? I believe he is constantly speaking to us in a myriad of ways (consider Psalm 19 for example), but most of us have not learned to be available to listen or respond. We may be willing to obey should he speak, but we don’t really believe he will speak. We need to intentionally make ourselves available to him all the time.
  1. Living in a state of awareness – This can be difficult in many ways. But, as we practice and establish rhythms in our life that help us maintain a posture of receptivity, it can become reality. Last week I was talking to a good friend and we were overwhelmed by how God breaks through the mundane to show glimpses of himself when we walk with a conscious awareness of his presence. We don’t always “feel” his presence, but like the way a certain car we are interested in buying suddenly starts appearing all around us all the time, when we cultivate that awareness, we see him all the time.
  1. Living in expectancy – Most of us resign ourselves to the thought that we just aren’t that spiritual or just not worthy of God’s speaking to us. But when we come to the realization that He is speaking to us and we are worthy of such intimacy and begin to live in expectancy, we will begin to notice his presence all around us in ways we never had before.
  1. Living in trust – More and more we need to learn to let go of the need to control so much of our lives. We need to come to a place of trust. As we discover God’s loving presence with us all the time and in so many different ways, we can begin to truly walk moment-by-moment in faith that God will guide us and walk with us in all of life’s experiences and circumstances.

Take time to reflect on your experience. When do you sense God most intimately in your life?

Has there been a time when God showed up or broke in and you were surprised? Why was it surprising?

Is there any way you sense God inviting you to be more intentional to be present to him in your daily life? In what ways? What will you do about it?

Conflict Transformation

Conflict is one of those things most people try to avoid. I imagine it’s largely because few of us have experienced conflict turn out well. Everyone has a baseline response to conflict: Yield, withdrawal, win, compromise…but few of us understand how to work through conflict to a point of resolution. Much of how we approach conflict is conditioned by how we observed it and experienced it growing up – with parents, teachers, coaches, classmates. We found the best way to cope…passive-aggressive behavior, conciliatory comments, argumentativeness, violence – some worked well, many not at all!

Conflict happens in all relationships. It is inevitable. How we handle that conflict is essential for moving forward in the relationship. In the past few months I’ve come across the idea of “conflict transformation”. Conflict transformation is not a commitment to transforming the conflict into something else – though that might be a good thing – it is a commitment “for us to seek transformation in and through the conflict” (Ruth Haley Barton, Pursuing God’s Will Together, p. 104). It is all about finding ways for me to be open to the presence of Jesus in the midst of conflict. It is an attempt to seek after deeper levels of heart change in my life rather than simply slipping into habits or natural responses that may not reflect Christ’s presence in my life.

This is a big challenge. How do I enter into a conflict situation with a desire to be changed for the better? How do I enter into it with the mindset of maintaining the unity of Christ – and even seeing the situation strengthen our unity in Christ – instead of simply managing the situation or resolving it and moving on. The reality for most of us is that conflict stirs very strong emotions in us and we often respond before we can even slow down enough for a rational thought.

To experience conflict transformation, we need to affirm the truth that Jesus is with us in the midst of the conflict. He promised to never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) and in the context of a conflict the passage promised that were two or three are gathered, he was in their midst (Matthew 18:19). We can ask ourselves, “What does Christian love demand in this situation?” We can seek to remain open to God and the other person rather than withdrawing or attacking.

We also need to “affirm that conflict can be the catalyst for needed growth and transformation…if we are willing to engage it as such” (Barton, p. 146). We need to enter into the situation to seek resolution of the conflict, but we also want to create the space for God to use it to transform us. Practicing regular times of self-examination and learning to pay attention to what’s going on inside us can help us navigate conflict situations. As we examine ourselves, we may become aware of attitudes that have contributed to the situation that need confession; or we may realize how the conflict is affecting us and see areas God wants to refine. By slowing down and reflecting on the situation and our heart and attitudes in it, we seek to understand what it is God is doing in us and perhaps in the other person so we can grow.

Not every conflict lends itself easily to conflict transformation. But if we approach conflict with a right heart and attitude, it can be something that transforms us more into the image of Jesus. As with so much of life, things happen and it often feels like we have no control over it. But if we take the attitude that God purposes or permits everything for a purpose then we can know that each situation is a transformational growth opportunity. Instead of hiding from the challenges as potholes to be avoided, we can embrace the opportunity to learn and grow and model a different approach.

What would it mean in your life to pursue conflict transformation? What about this idea is attractive? Is there anything your heart resists? Take time to pray and ponder what God might be inviting you to experience…

Five Best Things About Being Sick

Like most people, I hate to get sick. Fortunately it doesn’t happen very often to me – it hasn’t happened in more than a year.  Unfortunately it happened this week. What started out as allergies turned into a nasty cold. The net effect is I feel tired and like someone has hit me over the head with a two by four most of the time.

While I don’t like being sick, I have realized there are actually some positives to illness. So without further ado, my top five best things about getting sick…

5. It reminds me I am human. I usually do not feel as old as I am. In my mind I can still do all the things I did twenty thirty years ago. Getting sick reminds me that I am, after all, only human. I can’t do everything. I have to accept and acknowledge my limits and live accordingly. I need to eat well; rest enough; and get good exercise. I do the first and third without problem (most of the time). It’s the “rest enough” that can be a challenge. Being sick forces me to break from the normal routines. It is a good reminder who is in charge; who is truly immortal; and who can truly do everything.

4. It forces me to slow down. I normally do pretty well at keeping a good balance between work and rest. I take time to reflect on what is happening in and around me. I have fairly good rhythms in my life. Even so, illness forces me to slow down. I cannot keep up the pace I’m used to following. I have to find a different rhythm. And that’s a good thing. Not only does it provide the needed rest to recover, it also…

3. It helps me prioritize. When I can’t do everything, I need to figure out what’s most important. What are the things I can let go of (perhaps only temporarily) and what do I have to do today. In the process of prioritizing I often identify things that not only don’t have to be done today, they actually are not even mine to do, or they have become distractions to what I’m supposed to do. I should, as part of my normal life rhythm, take time to evaluate how I’m doing. The truth is sometimes I don’t. Illness helps me to make sure I am focusing on the things I should when I should.

2. It makes me thankful. When I am sick, I appreciate health so much more. It can be easy to wallow in my illness or complain about it or become bitter and frustrated. I try not to let that happen. Instead, I find it usually helps me feel more grateful that I am usually a healthy person. I am thankful for physical blessings and also for spiritual ones. I am thankful that Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 are true: 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. Now granted, Paul is not talking about the common cold here, but when I’m sick even as it reminds me I am human, it also makes me thankful that there is a spiritual, inward reality that is coming alive and being renewed “day by day”.

1. It reminds me what an amazing woman and doctor my wife is. More than twenty-five years ago I married a medical student who is today a physician. Over the years my children and I have learned that there is a lot more we can do when we’re sick than we thought. While others would let colds or flus slow them down, Angie would give us a Tylenol or an Advil and (unless we were contagious) encourage us to keep going. She was sympathetic and she offered care and concern, but she also knew how much she was able to put up with – chronic pain among other things. She modeled for us that illness might slow us down a bit and needed to be attended to, but except in certain circumstances, it didn’t have to debilitate us. And the reality was, as a doctor, she could tell us exactly what we needed to do to get better and it pretty much always worked and worked quickly.

So, no, I don’t like being sick…but I have learned that it isn’t (usually) the end of the world. In fact, if I approach it with a good attitude, it can even be a gift.


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