Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thank God for the Fleas

I have come to believe that the secret to joy in all circumstances is to abandon any sense of entitlement. Better to believe that you deserve nothing and then learn to be grateful for everything. Obviously it's easier for me to write that than to actually practice it, but I'm determined to spend this Advent cultivating more thankfulness in my life.

Last year I re-read Corrie Ten Boom's The Hiding Place. Although the subject matter was heavy and sad (duh, Holocaust!), it gave me so much hope just looking at the way that Corrie and her sister Betsie reacted to their circumstances with unwavering faith in God. It's been a year since the re-read, and still the most memorable part of the book is when the sisters and their friends made an effort to thank God in every circumstance, ending with "thank God for the fleas!" At the time the women in the concentration camp barracks were harassed unceasingly by the fleas, and so when Betsie thanked God for them Corrie couldn't believe there was any way to truly give thanks for the blood sucking creatures. Later it is revealed that the fleas were the only reason that the barracks had not been searched and the women were able to keep their contraband Bible! Thank God for the fleas!

Last night I had a nausea-inducing migraine. I couldn't do anything but lay on my side in the dark. I couldn't eat, couldn't drink much, and couldn't take any medicine. As I was laying there I thought of "thank God for the fleas" and said to myself, "thank God for this migraine!" After I said it I realized that there really was something to be thankful for. Because of the headache I saw my husband take charge with the baby and take care of me. He took the baby so I could take a hot bath. He put pajamas on her and changed her diaper. He kept her happy, playing with her until he laid her down in the crib. Then he got me some water and made me a bowl of ramen. When I couldn't eat it he said, "you go ahead and lay back down." It totally melted my heart. Too many times I take the role of the martyr, but last night he took good care of me.

Beyond little circumstances in life, I would love to be able to remember always that God does not owe me a thing. In fact I am truly the lucky one that he stooped down so low to concern himself with the salvation of human beings! He doesn't owe me good health. He doesn't owe me material wealth. He doesn't owe me a thing. Any good work that I do is a meager offering of thanks to Him, the source of all goodness and grace! Any good that comes to me from the hand of Divine Providence is a gift, not a right!

I sometimes feel like a side-door Catholic. I wasn't raised in a household of faith. I was cynical and negative. I exchanged my simple childhood Christianity for belief in the Goddess and the Horned God, nature, sex and magick. God used circumstances of my life to plant seeds which germinated and grew. I was chaff snatched from the fire. I was pulled in the side door, grateful to be let in from the cold! My heart is full of peace and joy when I remember the great thing that God did for me.

I am determined to be the leper that came back.

As he continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee.

As he was entering a village, ten lepers met (him). They stood at a distance from him

and raised their voice, saying, "Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!"

And when he saw them, he said, "Go show yourselves to the priests." As they were going they were cleansed.

And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice;

and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan.

Jesus said in reply, "Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine?

Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?"

Then he said to him, "Stand up and go; your faith has saved you." (Luke 17:11-19)

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