Posted by: trevormeers | August 29, 2010

Tomorrow! Tomorrow! You’re making me crazy, Tomorrow!

I slumped in the hospital’s tasteful vinyl recliner and read my friend’s text message on my phone. “That’s incredible! So glad you are leaving PICU. Another answer to prayer!” Only, we were still in PICU (pediatric intensive care, for those who don’t watch a lot of hospital dramas). At noon on Friday, we’d tidily packed up our granola, get-well-soon cards and magazines into backpacks and headed out to lunch, confident that we’d be leaving PICU when we returned. By 3:00 that afternoon, our stuff was strewn around the PICU room again, and Katie had a whole new set of wires attached to her head with something that smelled like airplane glue.

We’d returned from lunch full of the cafeteria’s muffuletta sandwich and excitement about leaving the PICU behind us, only to run into a moment that belongs in a binder labeled “Patient Care For Chronically Tone-Deaf Medical Personnel.” The nurse stopped us in the hall to say, “I have some news. They’re keeping you here because they want to run some tests to make sure there’s no seizure activity causing some of her irregular breathing. If there is, they can look at some medications, or they can just go in and snip out that part of the lobe.” He tapped the side of his forehead as he said that last part.

Teri’s hair instantly burned three shades redder. “Are you talking about another surgery?!” The nurse’s face slacked into that Perhaps-Suggesting-Brain-Surgery-Before-We-Know-What’s-Happening-Wasn’t-Such-A-Good-Idea expression, largely responding to my own Are-You-A-Brain-Surgeon-In-Disguise-Or-Just-A-Yap-In-Scrubs? expression. While he back-pedaled, we returned to Katie’s room and fired up her singing Barney doll as I reassured Teri that the nurse’s suggestion might be, oh, a year and about 37 tests premature.

Turns out, there are no seizures, we did make it out of PICU Saturday, and Katie has been entertaining us with the smiling personality we’re accustomed to. But the last three days have delivered a rattling up-down ride that left our emotions limper than a used-up bungee cord.

For the last week, my first waking thought has been, “Why do jackhammer operators at Carver-Hawkeye Arena start work before the guys who make donuts?” But over the last two days, I’ve been waking up thinking, “Who’s going to punch us in the gut today?”

I, like many people, have a great knack for projecting today’s problems far down-range until they look like next year’s cataclysm. So I have to constantly slap myself straight, just like actors in old adventure movies smacking their buddies in the sinking submarine and saying, “Pull yourself together, Jones!”

It’s basically the same move C.J. Mahaney suggests in his book Humility: True Greatness, where he suggests that all of us need to spend less time listening to ourselves (i.e., the destructive whispers of our sinful, selfish nature) and more time talking to ourselves about God’s teaching. So feel free to listen in for a few paragraphs as I give myself a good talking to about this weekend’s worries.

Think of worrying this way: I normally have no trouble falling asleep in a car someone else is driving. But when I rode a van up the mountains of Peru this summer, I just couldn’t seem to drift off. What’s the difference? Partly, it was the fact that Peruvian van seats are built for Munchkins, but the larger issue was that I feared the lead-footed driver might send us off a cliff. In short, I trusted one driver but not the other.

Corrie Ten Boom (who woke up facing a bad day or two during the Holocaust) made a similar analogy when she said, “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.”

So worrying is no more than our arrogant, underpowered minds convincing us that God must be losing His grip on the wheel when we see hard times coming. Even though He runs the universe while we can barely get through the day, we keep convincing ourselves that the best plan is the one we would pick, which, coincidentally enough, never involves difficulty for us.

Then there’s also the little fact that the positive impact of worrying adds up to, let’s run the totals here, zero. Jesus said in Mt. 6:27, “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?”

Most Christians have heard this before, but it’s a killer habit to break because we’re not just worrying over our prospects of getting a nice office at work or a better car. The stuff we worry about is often very consequential, perhaps even devastating from our perspective. Like, say, the prospect of another operation on your child’s brain.

And I’m not confusing worrying with smart anticipation and planning. We should use our God-given minds to prepare adequately. I assure you that Teri and I have been active participants in the doctors’ daily conversations about Katie’s care. But looking ahead is far different from endlessly fretting over things completely beyond our control.

Still, some people deflect the Bible’s warnings against worrying by saying, “I know that’s true, but that’s just me; I’m a worrier.” Kevin DeYoung echoes many pastors over the years when he puts that argument in its place in his book Just Do Something: “Worry about the future is not simply a character tic, it is the sin of unbelief, an indication that our hearts are not resting in the promises of God.” 

If you’d been following me around the halls the last few days, you would’ve heard all this as I work at talking to myself, rather than listening to myself. Or listening to irritating nurses.

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Responses

  1. Oh, Trevor!!! I am so sorry for the mind numbing issues you’ve had to deal with…I don’t think there’s a parent out there that doesn’t understand your concern for your precious daughter. Trusting God does NOT come easy for us humans…it’s in our nature to panic and wring our hands. So once we finally come to the end of ourselves, we turn our God and trust HIM to take care of every last detail…we learn from experince…sometimes painful experience. It’s HOT in the “refiner’s fire”, I know, but worth it!

  2. I wish I could do something to encourage and inspire you as much you do for me with your story, your honesty, your insight and your wit. As a bit of an artist I always tell people who are trying to learn to draw or whatever, that it is most important to learn to see the subject matter better or differently, then the stroke of the brush will take care of itself. Seems that writing probably works much the same way, The craft is important, but without the insight and perspective you give it, well, crafty words are nothin’. I really enjoy the connections you are able make beacause of the way you see. Unfortunatly this worked against you on the bus, I however did not take the time to get aquainted with the drivers, lucky for me. Blessings to the Meers fam! The Lord will Provide!


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