“To keep death before one’s eyes daily” ~The Holy Rule of St. Benedict
“Sin caused your little boy’s condition, but Jesus has it taken care of. Even if your son dies you’ll get to see him again. It’s great stuff.” ~A Professing Christian
Comparing the two statements, there is something wise about the first. The second, spoken to me earlier in the day by a contractor who buys paint from my father, is heartless. Mr. Collins spoke enthusiastically. I listened, nodded, excused myself, and returned to my duty of sending out the monthly statements.
Why do some Christians feel like they have to have all of life’s unanswerable questions and unbearable moments figured out? This sort of spiritualized thinking pisses me off. I too am a Christian but have never thought that sin caused my son’s medical battles. I must be out of God’s loop. If I had true grit I would have said, “Actually, Mr. Collins, sin didn’t cause my son’s NF1. A copying error of the NF gene on chromosome 17 did you idiot.”
I love the word ‘idiot.’ It comes from the Greek word idios. In the New Testament it is used at times to refer to Jesus getting away by himself, all alone, idios. Other connotations of idios include peculiar, strange, odd. How idios I find your comment about a young innocent child, my son, Mr. Collins.
“To keep death before one’s eyes daily.” Now such a statement I find challenging. It arouses my fear of dying. What if something happens to me and I’m not around to raise my son? What will happen to him? Who will be there to give him the care he needs? The cycle is vicious: In times of stress I think of these questions—questions that cause me stress. Benedict’s rule reminds me that I need to take care of myself so I can provide my son with the care he needs.
At Seattle Children’s, I like to read the literature available through the chaplaincy program. At first, the literature struck me as idios. I was hoping for some tips on how to help my son as he lay in ICU. Instead, the material was mostly on caring for the caregiver. For good reason: caregivers tend to get sick or deathly ill if all they do is care for a sick loved one and stop caring for themselves.