Coughy Lions and their Kin
I had a dream last week. There were square-faced lions peeking around stout evergreen tree trunks on the edge of a dark forest. When they roared, a tickle arose in my throat and I had to cough. When they opened their roaring mouths to make the tickle, I tried to resist the cough for several seconds. When I couldn’t resist it, I tried to make it very shallow, more like a little “ahum, ahum, ahum”.
The dream took place in the basement apartment of my son’s house in WA DC. I was alone in the queen bed. Kent was on the sofa bed, because I was trying not to get him sick too. (He got sick.) All four in the family were sick when we arrived. After five days and nine days, respectively, I and Kent had stuffed sinuses, fever and cough.
I made a Coughy Lions get well card for my grandson because he and I were sharing the exact same symptoms on the exact same days, though he was much sicker than I. I even got the conjunctivitis in both eyes!
Coughy lions have many cousins, and one of their many kin has been the bane of my adulthood. We’ll call them the Worry Lions. Worry Lions also roar out from the dark forest but the virus on their breath is anxiety. In ages past, I’ve been called a worry wart. And in the house of sickness, I had to acknowledge that “Nervous Nelly” was making an appearance. I kept asking myself, “How do parents of young children survive??!!” or more to the point, how do my son and his wife survive raising a baby and a preschooler??!!
It’s fine, of course to acknowledge difficulties. Those are the facts. And Jesus Himself warned us, “In this world you will have tribulation . . “ John 16:33
The question is, can you acknowledge the difficulties without letting them determine your mood and mindset? Paul the apostle recommended letting our thoughts hang out in positive things - positive truths, we might say. He wrote:
Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8 NASB
I tried to put this into practice in DC. Was there anything good? Our grandson missed 3 days of school with the nasty cold. Kent and I had extra time to hang out with him we would otherwise have missed. We watched movies. We spent hours making Valentine’s cards for his classmates. We went to the supermarket.
Also I tried to practice gratitude. Gratitude for the people they’ve all grown to be, for how God designed and shaped them, for how God is forging reliance on Him and patience through the adversity. And I was truly flooded with gratitude, seeing how tenderly and well my son and his wife love their two children. I often thought, “they are amazing parents!” So much that is lovely and excellent to dwell on.
And there is another side benefit - adversity leads to prayer, and God really wants us to take our troubles to Him. And He responds! For “what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone?” Matthew 7:9 God gave us no stones in the sickness. We had the work of loving, caring and serving to do, even while not well ourselves, but it’s good work. And my grandson got well enough to go back to school with his sheaf of Valentine’s on Valentines’s Day. Lovely!
It’s also a good lesson to avoid projecting your own worries onto others. I had a hard time raising my two children, and I tend to assume that my son will feel just as I did in times of difficulty. It’s good to check the facts. I finally asked my son, “How are you doing with all this?” He answered, “We have wonderful good-natured kids. We’re doing ok.”
So, I’m still working at resisting the Coughy Lions and the Worry Lions too. When that tickle of worry comes along, I’m reaching for the good, the lovely, the excellent to focus on. There is so much to be grateful for!