Reflections on loving God, being Catholic, being a woman, being ill, loving life and anything else that comes to mind.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Two nights ago I lay awake after I had said my prayers and read enough to be nice and drowsy. Sleep would not come. I was not hungry. I was neither too hot nor too cold. There was nothing preying on my mind. I had taken my medication and my vitamins. It was none of the usual culprits. The air in the apartment was extremely dry, it recently became cold enough in New York for the heat to come on. The pain in my sinuses was terrible but surely it would not keep me awake. I lay awake in the dark wondering why sleep eluded me and fussing at God.

In my study, two doors away, the humidifier I use in the winter was out ready to be filled when the air became dry. But I was too tired and decided to do it another night. Then I remembered the trivia quiz that I must submit before the end of the day. Since forfeiting was unacceptable, I got up, went into my study, booted my laptop and completed the quiz. I decided I was much too tired to carry the humidifier down the hall to the kitchen and went back to bed. A while later I got up, passed my study and continued on to the bathroom but decided I was just too tired to deal with the humidifier. Finally, about a quarter of two, I decided I would not sleep, got up and filled the humidifier. Over the next hour and a half, as I waited for the pain to subside, I told God that I am exceedingly stupid, that I might have been asleep already, that lack of sleep meant the next day would be awful. Finally I said, “You know what the problem is, don’t you? I’m in rebellion against you.”

It’s true. I am in rebellion against God though my actions don’t look or feel like rebellion. I’m certainly not doing anything as horrid as Lucifer did (whatever it was) to be thrown out of heaven. My actions can’t be as bad as Eve’s or Adam’s. Most people probably would not consider them rebellious at all. But I can’t escape the truth. In its tiny little way, my rebellion is absolutely real.

I was angry that night. I have lived with illness much of my life but until four or five years ago, I could usually ignore it. Now I can’t. And sometimes, much of the time, I just want it not to be real, not to be in my life. Certainly pain and fatigue and feeling like crap are no fun. But what I really hate is all the work. I don’t want to wake an hour early to take the one prescription that will only fit into my schedule at that time. I don’t like that I must be closely attentive to my diet to be certain that I get enough protein. I don’t want to need to remember to remove my contacts as soon as I get home and use eye drops. I don’t want to have so many medical appointments. There is a long list of things I don’t want to do and that night, filling that humidifier was just another thing on the list and the list was just too long.

My rebellion isn’t limited to an occasional humidifier incident or skipped pill. I rebel every single day, sometimes many times a day. It’s so easy for me to begin reading a book because I don’t feel like getting dressed in the morning. I will ignore a necessary task because I’m just not in the mood. I will even put off buying something I need, even food, because I’d rather watch reruns of (the original) Star Trek than go to the store. Reality is often not to my liking.

There’s something petty and inept about my rebelling. Big rebelliousness would require an awful lot of work and I’m much too lazy. Perhaps if there was a lot of unguarded money lying about or if it was easier to remember to hate or if I didn’t get distracted when devising interesting things to do to the people who annoy me or if I could think of how to kill someone without becoming utterly disgusted and knew how to dispose of the body effectively, I might do something really spectacular. But I’m usually limited to some sort of pout.

My rebellion is effective though. I excel at exacerbating my sufferings, even at creating suffering. I’ve missed many nights of sleep because I was pouting at God. I’ve been cold and hungry and had really gloomy days because I refused to do something that I felt I shouldn’t have to do anyway. As a teenager, I ignored increasing pain in my foot until the injury was so bad I was forced to give up ballet because I didn't want anything to interfere with my dancing. (I’ve been rebelling since I was a child.) And because I had better things to do, I ignored my worsening health for months until my skin was literally breaking apart because of malabsorption and my oxygen intake was down to 29% of normal. Certainly others are affected, perhaps more than I know, but I always, always hurt myself, sometimes very badly.

And I have absolutely no excuse. My life has been very difficult but God has cared for me, has been a palpable presence to me as long as I can remember. In fact, I have absolutely no memory of a time without him. I have been without people, I have never been without God. Even before I had language to express it I knew, people might do horrible things to me but that wasn’t God’s fault, wasn’t God’s desire. My life is evidence that God is trustworthy, evidence that he loves me. I know I am very, very fortunate. I have what I need. I have enough: a humidifier, food, medication, clothing, some of the best doctors around, a job with excellent health benefits, even an alarm clock that reliably wakes me so that I can take the first pill of the day. All I must do is toss out my list and use what God has provided.

There is only one reason I rebel, I want to be exempt from living in this broken, sinful world. I want the world to be as I think it should be. I want to be as I think I should be, as I know I should be, something greater, something not limited by all the silliness of this reality. I am aware of an immense desire to be free from the discomforts and restrictions of life on earth. I am Eve’s daughter; I even want God to be as I think he should be. Chances are I would have listened to the serpent too even though I love God. But I don’t love him enough so that I consistently obey his command to love as I have been loved, even when I am the person I should be loving, even when I know the cost of disobeying him is suffering.


Joy said...

Thank you for sharing your heart and all that you are going through. Sometimes it is easy for me to think "Hey, I'm doing pretty good," when the reality is that I am rebelling against God in a thousand small ways. Great blog!

Adam said...

Your writings are striking me to the heart. I'm just like you. I cause my own pain and I get angry at God for it. Mea culpa.

TheMerovingian said...

This is beautiful and profound, Drusilla. Thank you.

I am no stranger, sadly, to the rebellion that you describe. Yet, as the priest says at the end of Graham Greene's Brighton Rock, "You can't conceive, nor can I or anyone, the awful strangeness of the mercy of God." Even when we rebel, God's mercy remains, waiting for us to return to Him and come home, like the Prodigal Son.

Anonymous said...

Good points! I cherish such honesty, and if ever I doubted you were a woman (I did), I don't anymore. We are much too hard on ourselves, not because of gender (tho' that, too, yes) but just because.

How's about if some of us help pray others into more peace, especially at night? That's why we're all in touch, I think-- virtual wink, virtual pat on the back, virtual back rub, foot massage, warm soak of the soul...virtual but real Body. One.

I recall being sickened by an upcoming exam that would strip me of dignity..once again..but we're in solidarity with Christ in these things we hate. I offered my humiliation for a loved one's good, or for an enemy's good. It didn't seem to help me any, sufferings are and remain real and mysterious, but maybe it helped my loved one or a sinner or someone who has no one to pray for them.

Above all, you love God very much to wonder if you love Him enough. He understands. It is a daily battle we fight, but it's not always ourself at the bottom of it.

Gregaria said...

Oh, I love your blog! Its so, so good! I love your honesty, but I love how you love God and try your best even more than I love your honesty. Everything is so beautiful to read about. Thanks for "putting yourself out there." God bless you! I hope you can accept the daily grind of life, grow closer to Christ because of it, and find peace and happiness in the end. God bless you!

Christine said...

Now may be the time to dust off The Dark Night of the Soul, or St. Teresa's The Way of Perfection, both of which will comfort and console you in your afflictions. Truly, God loves you with a special love if he has singled you out to help carry His Son's Cross.

forget me not said...

We share more than one thing in common, Drusilla. I am hopelessly lazy! I get everything done eventually, but I waste. so. much. time. I'll stop and read a bit, then put the laundry in the washer. I'll then check my blog email..."just 10 minutes" I say to myself, but it ends up being a couple of hours before I know it, because I get some kind of sudden inspiration, lol. I keep telling myself I do it because this way I savor everything...If I wanted to, I'd never have a minute for myself because there is ALWAYS something to do in a big house like mine. Then I remember how angry and tired my mom always was when we were kids. She never allowed herself the luxury of sitting down until I was old enough to do the housework...and then my friends started calling me Cinderella. I would have given anything if we could have done stuff together. Now my kids give me a hand with some things (making their beds or bringing in some firewood, setting the table... easy stuff, no bathrooms), but at least they are not alone in it.

Carrien said...

You have better described this problem that always plagues me than anyone so far. It is rebellion, I've long suspected so.

As I've learned in raising children also, lack of obedience means lack of trust, which is sin. When my children don't obey me immediately it's because they don't trust me enough to believe that it is in their own best interest to do so. They don't trust my loving instruction, command, restriction, they'd rather do what they want to do, they think it will make them happier in the long run.

I've realized that this lack of obedience to God in my own life, this lack of faithfulness in the minutiae is a symptom of my own lack of trust, my own failure of faith, and this is my own besetting sin that I must repent of. It's twin is self-pity.

I found your blog through Jennifer F. today at Et tu and I will finish reading all of your entries soon.

Each has spoken to me. ANd I enjoy how fully you articulate and have come to understand the heavy weight of freedom as it relates to suffering in what I've read so far. It's something I've only come to understand in the last 5 years or so, and it has been one of the most important, healing things God has taught me also.

God bless you. I pray for you to be completely whole, either in this life, or that to come.