(Cross-posted at Προστάτις.)
I woke up sick. Lightheaded, nauseous, my neck aching and throbbing like it needed to be popped. I almost never throw up. It’s like I have a high fortitude save, so I have to roll a 1 to throw up. In nine months of being pregnant with my daughter back in 2005-2006, it only happened once. Yet, on Saturday August 4, I threw up.
My summer had been pretty awesome up to that point. Scratch that, my entire year had been mostly awesome. I had completed 19 credits with nothing lower than a B (hey, it was Calvin—what do you want from me?), I had switched my thesis topic to something that I am zealously passionate about, I was eating healthier (thank you pescetarianism), I had kicked my dependency on caffeine, and I was learning to cook and losing weight. I had co-organized a new Mormon studies blog with the help of 24+ people much smarter and sexier than I am, and I’d had a blast at the 2012 Sunstone Symposium in Salt Lake City. John Dehlin called me a “rock star” after one of my sessions, so it must be true. I seemed to have my depression and anxiety under control, and it dawned on me that I felt happier with my life than I had been in years. I didn’t remember feeling so happy since my mother was alive.
My guilty secret was that I was finding all of this wholeness and balance and happiness without God.
The nausea receded—thankfully, I escaped with only one act of obeisance to the porcelain god—but the lightheadedness continued while the pain in my neck escalated. By the following Tuesday, the pain was at a 4 on the pain scale and I was beginning to get worried. So I did what any 21st century smartass prone to know-it-all-ism who hates going to the doctor would do: I logged onto WebMD and tried to figure out for myself what the heck was wrong with me. Unfortunately, WebMD repeatedly flashed warnings that if I had pain in my neck, I needed to see a doctor ASAP. Damn you, Dr. Internet. If you aren’t going to replace the need for real-life doctors, what good are you?
I hadn’t made an active decision to turn away from God. I wasn’t angry at God and I hadn’t stopped believing. When it came to carrying on the daily acts of devotion that make up the Christian life, I had simply stopped. The confessions were still there, but the signs of a Christian life were disappearing from mine, and I felt little. My guilt mainly stemmed from my own sense of hypocrisy, wondering what people would think of me if they knew the truth. Certainly I still went to church and paid a tithe, even. But I knew in my heart that meant little. If what God wanted was my heart, he wasn’t getting it, because my heart wasn’t in it anymore.
I clumped into the emergency room at the local hospital in the wee hours of Tuesday, August 7th. My visit was uneventful. The ER docs ordered an X-Ray and prescribed two drugs, a muscle relaxant and something for the lightheadedness. I went home, took the meds faithfully, and tried to take it easy, and while the lightheadedness went away, the pain in my neck only escalated. By the afternoon of Thursday, August 9th, I was heaving and sobbing in pain, unable to find a position that offered even temporary relief. I later rated the pain as being an 8. The only pain I have ever felt that was worse than this pain involved slicing my Achilles tendon or being in labor.
I called the local family health clinic to see if they could get me an emergency appointment slot. They said they couldn’t get me in to see anyone until Monday, August 13th. Oh, hell no am I living with this all weekend, I told myself. Defeated, I called my husband and breathlessly sobbed into the phone that I needed to go back to the emergency room right away. He could hear my pain through the phone and I could tell he was almost as freaked out as I was. 8.75 years of marriage at that point, and I had never called him home from work for anything.
I’m not the kind of person who ignores God, and then tries desperately praying to him when something terrible crashes down on me. Well, maybe I am, but somewhere amid those desperate prayers, I figure that if I haven’t really been paying attention to God prior to that point, I’m probably screwed in my moment of need. God is probably like, “Oh, now you want to work on our relationship, eh?” (Note: God is Canadian, apparently.)
Shows what I know about God.
To be continued.