Prodigal Returns...

I am returning to you because of an absurdly loud sneeze I heard today.

I will partly blame my 8 day silence on Ryan being sick. And he has been "man" sick. You know the guys that never get sick but when they do they instantly turn into the biggest babies in the entire world who thrive off of having a personal nurse, the attention, the pampering; and they are not just sick, they are dying? That's "man" sick. And though he has had a temperature of almost 102 for the last three days and really needed a nurse, he has milked it for all it's worth (in the cutest way of course).

Today I decided it was time to sterilize. I have already taken two showers (I am a 3 shower a week type person, I HATE showers, so two in a day basically means something horrifically nasty has happened to me), I have washed my hands a hundred times, and I have washed everything else in the house with an extra dose of bleach, like 5 cups of bleach, and Lysol. I opened the windows, dusted, vacuumed, and stripped the house clean of all its nasty germs. All I could imagine when I touched the snotty tissues or sheets were the little Mucus bugs on the Mucinex commercials that are in the guys lungs waiting to be coughed out. Or worse, the Lamisil commercial where they literally pull the toe nail back in front of you and you see the little toe germs dancing around. Disgusting.

In the midst of cleaning the house in a weird sort of trance while anticipating a visual army of germ-y bugs attacking me at any moment I was completely disrupted by a sneeze. A neighbors sneeze. A woman. I am not sure where she came from, maybe across the sidewalk in a different building, but I could feel it. I think it shook my house, or at least the window panes. Her sneeze was the most loud, earth shattering, theatrically dramatic, blowing her guts out of both ends, sneeze I had ever heard.

And I suddenly felt the urge to write again. Who sneezes like that? That had to have been a 140 mile per hour sneeze. Was she giving birth? Is she suffering from some sort of condition? Abnormally large nostrils? Is her nose ok? Did that thing hurt? It hurt me and I live across the sidewalk in a different building than her. I've never heard anything like it. Should I check on her?

As a fellow human traveler I thought I should let you know to not be alarmed if you hear a sneeze like that, because I've heard one before, and the person lived. I saw it happen today. My grandpa is part German, he snores, he has a good size nose, he's generally loud, and I've never heard him sneeze anywhere near that. For a minute I just had to stare out my window at her and ponder what I just heard...I was baffled, she was part elephant.

I get into cycles of guilt. They do not start out that way. They start out as a decision. I will take a break from writing in my blog. Or I will answer emails in two days. I will write thank you cards tonight, or call my grandma tomorrow. The decision, made initially to organize my life, ends up turning into procrastination. The procrastination goes from one day to two, then three, then a weekend goes by, then a week and then I either feel stupid for responding so late or incredibly guilty. Either way, I avoid whatever it is all together.

On top of that, I heard a counselor say once that people who procrastinate have hidden anger. So then I worry I have anger somewhere stored away that I don't even know about and I spend hours trying to figure out why I am angry when I do not feel angry and by the end of the episode I am not only a procrastinator, now I am a guilty, angry, bad person, procrastinator.

Terrible cycle, and while I am mostly exaggerating with the words "hours" and "weeks" the truth is sometimes it gets the best of me. I wish I could pray for peace and sanity and receive it from God instantly by little doves who come down from the clouds, cover me with their little dove wings, sprinkle cloud dust all over me, and I would miraculously lose all guilt, accomplish everything on my to do list without procrastination, and do it all with a smile, a hot body, a million dollars, and a perfect house.

But mostly it doesn't work for me that way. Today it happened (the peace and sanity) because I heard a sneeze and it grabbed my attention, and not doves, but perhaps the voice of the Holy Spirit reminded me that I had been putting things off for too long and freed me to do those things. I decided it had been way too long since I wrote a blog, which I love doing, since I called my mom and my grandma and really talked, and since I really cleaned the kitchen. And all of a sudden the sneeze sort of set me free. It all snapped back into place. I still have a beautiful email that I have put off replying to for 2 weeks, because how do you answer beautiful and thoughtful emails? And I still have a stack of thank you cards to write...but I don't feel guilty and I have done a lot today.

Funny what it takes sometimes. A sneeze. Even more funny that the guilt is almost never, ever the encourager that causes us to step out and do things. If anything, it prohibits and restricts our souls, it keeps us in bondage, it tears down what is not broken, it paralyzes us. We cannot operate out of guilt. Not always. We would be cynical, bitter, and fake at the end of it all. To be truly free we must operate out of desire...and sometimes when the guilt has eaten us up for a while we pray that it will go away, we pray for peace, and we get a sneeze...and we remember life is too short to live under the weight of guilt in our relationships and in our own souls...and we smile, and we give ourselves a break.

How can you not lighten up when the neighbor has just blown snot all the way across the sidewalk and into your freshly cleaned, germ free home, with a hurricane like force? Eight days into the new year. Try giving yourself some grace by choosing not to be driven by guilt.