For some reason this weekend I looked at my little rug and thought, that's just like me. I think it was Saturday when it took me over five hours just to sort through all the Paeds patients in nursery, the floor, the ICU, the casualty, plus consults. There were 42 or 44, I've lost track. And very few are straightforward. Most have multiple chronic problems, or have landed at Kijabe as their last resort after failure to improve elsewhere. Somewhere around the 20's I realized some important things had been picked up by others on Friday that I had missed, and felt incompetent. Somewhere around 35 one of the nurses chided me for not speaking Swahili like Dr. So and So, kind of disheartening. And before I got to the 40's more were being admitted. And just as I finished I found out that a short term colleague had sent an email to the entire hospital list which included a false accusation against me (a minor part of a long sad story but wearing none-the-less). I was SPENT. When I finally got home the weekend was passing quickly. My wonderful family was working on some spring cleaning, and I tried to participate, but before long I just couldn't do anything else. I went to bed and napped for over two hours. That is not normal for me.
I like this work and this life, but the last couple of weeks the demands of the service have been extreme. And at the same time, the looming uncertainty of yet more transition hangs ahead. We thought we'd have heard about Caleb's application to the USAFA by now, but we haven't. It seems like many we know are reeling in acceptances and scholarships, and Caleb still hasn't heard one word from anywhere. Not that I particularly want to know in some ways, it will be too final, and I dread it. Like my little rug I'm still functional, but there is significant fraying in the center. And so my first reaction is, how can I fix this, sew, mend. But frankly I don't think I will.
The slightly faded, somewhat unraveled, but still hanging-together rug is who I am. Not the clean new one that makes every diagnosis and handles every stress. There is a broken center that will be a bit unraveled, right up to the day of "all things made new". This weekend one of our kids was working on Bible homework, and there was a question: why did Jesus send out His disciples to announce the Kingdom instead of doing it himself? Yes, why? For at least two reasons the unraveled rug is good. First, as a failing messengers, we communicate the truth that the Kingdom is for people who aren't perfect and strong and always right. That the Kingdom comes in weakness, and in spite of missing threads some good is done, some love is shown, some evil is averted. An unraveled messenger becomes part of the message. And secondly, the work of being stepped on and unraveled is good for our own soul. Being a work-of-art-on-the-wall handcrafted display rug sounds more glorious, but I know I'd soon be proud of it, and afraid of any speck of dirt. Instead when I see the threads coming loose and the colors fading, I know that it's OK, that it's not me who needs to be admired, but Jesus.
Now I don't want to take the analogy too far . . . it is still good to have the edges intact. I am thankful for this community which I am coming to value more and more, the wisdom of the leadership handling some difficult conflict situations, the kindness of a friend who tuned up our car prior to driving to Uganda at the end of the week, and fellowship and prayer. I'm thankful for my colleague Mardi who is about to take over the Clinical Department Head job I've done for a year (though I am a little sad to let it go, it was a nice vote of consolation from God after losing a decade of leadership in WHM, she'll do GREAT and I need the breather). I'm thankful for my family. And fresh air and exercise and pizza and sleep and a 5-0 Man U victory and all the parts of the rug that are still woven together. I'm just saying that all those good things won't totally fix the hole in the center. And that that is OK, that's the hole that keeps us leaning on Jesus.