A Lesson on Cussing and Trusting God

I remember the first time I heard my mother swear.  I was in the first grade, and my twin brother, Ben, was pretty sick.  He was being admitted to the hospital for a rare but serious condition called Henoch-Schonlein Purpura, and my dad called home to tell my mom the disarming news.

That’s when she dropped the F-bomb.  She slammed her hand on the banister in the front hallway, cursed out loud, and then started to cry without even noticing that I was standing right next to her.

After several days of medical treatment, the lesions on my brother’s legs disappeared and his intestines began functioning normally again, leaving my parents with a sense of relief and me with an introduction to four-letter words.  But now that I’m a parent, I completely understand my mom’s foul-mouthed meltdown.  I’ve had some of my own through the years, and, like my mom, it usually happens when my children are sick.

Take the past two weeks, for instance.  Rainey’s left eye was just a little irritated at first, but soon we visited our family doctor who quickly diagnosed it as pink eye and prescribed some eye drops.

“But,” he warned, “if it doesn’t clear up within a few days, it’s something more serious.”

We diligently followed his treatment plan, but after a week, her eye was getting worse, not better.  A large cyst developed on the inside of her lower eyelid, and the beefy red inflammation and swollen lymph nodes accompanying it were alarming.  Again, our family doctor examined her and determined she needed to be seen by an ophthalmologist immediately to have the cyst removed.

No kid likes needles.  But a needle veering toward a child’s eyeball sounds horrifying, especially to a kid like Rainey.  So she prayed hard for God to heal her eye quickly, and then she asked, “Mom, what if God doesn’t make it better?”

It was a tough question, one I gave careful thought to before answering.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen to your eye, sweetheart,” I admitted.  “Maybe it will get better.  Maybe it won’t.  Maybe a few more doctors will have to help.  But one thing is for sure.  Whatever happens, God knows what He’s doing.  Maybe this is His way of teaching you that. ”

“So this is like a test?” she asked.

“More like an opportunity,” I clarified, “for you to learn how to trust Him.”

Two days later, Rainey had an appointment to see the ophthalmologist, and I knew in my gut that nothing could guarantee good news that day.  So I felt completely out of control, and raw frustration, fear, and anxiety surfaced for my whole family to hear.  Before leaving for the hospital, I said a few choice words to my husband on the phone, I screamed at my daughters to put on their coats and shoes, and I startled my son half-to-death with all the yelling.  I continued to verbally explode as I frantically drove to the appointment.

“Trust God,” I heard a voice say from the backseat.

Rainey, the one with the bum eye, was urging me to practice what I preach.  And I knew she was right.  So I closed my potty mouth and prayed for the power to trust God no matter what happened that day.

Turns out, the appointment went well.  The size of the cyst miraculously decreased overnight.  No invasive procedure was required, just some more potent eye drops and a return visit in a week.  Of course, Rainey handled herself with grace and dignity, speaking kindly to everyone in the clinic and maintaining her composure when they poked, prodded, and took pictures of her eye.  Not a single expletive came out of her.

On the way home, after stopping for some donut therapy, she wondered if I thought she learned her lesson.

“The one about trusting God,” she asked.

“Absolutely,” I assured her, “And you reminded me to trust Him, too.”

She smiled, clearly pleased with herself and with the outcome of her appointment.

And I hope she keeps her optimism because one day, she might become a mother, too, and holy crap, she’s going to need it.

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