Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What's Your Busyness Masking?

Hi Friends!

With my husband, Bryan, going in for hernia surgery tomorrow, I was reminded of this story from his appendix surgery a few years ago. With the new baby and a million other things keeping me extra-busy these days, this was a timely reminder for me. Maybe you'll find it helpful too. It happened like this:

The sight of my husband curled up on the bathroom floor should have been my first clue. After all, you don’t see a 6’3”, 220 lb. guy rolling around in fetal position every day.

I stepped through the door and touched my fingers to his shoulder. “Uh, are you okay?”

“Auurrgh.” He rolled over on his back and stared up at me.

“What’s wrong?”

“Just a little gas,” he wheezed. “I’ll be all right in a minute.”

A minute came and went. “Maybe you need to go to the hospital?”

“Nooooooo.” He waved his hand at me.

“What can I do?”

“Call the doc. Maybe it’s the antibiotics he prescribed last week.”

I did.

“Can I talk to him?” was the first thing the doctor said to me.

I poked my head back into the bathroom. “Doc’s on the phone.”

Bryan reached out his hand and grunted at me. A couple minutes later,
he hobbled out of the bathroom and handed back the phone. “Doc says I’d better get to the emergency room. Fast.”

My heart leapt to my throat and stomped out a rapid beat.

Eight hours later, they wheeled Bryan into the operating room for emergency surgery to remove his appendix. Just before he left the pre-op room, he raised a pale, shaky hand toward me. “Pray for me, huh?.”

I nodded. “I will.” My voice caught.

Then, they took him away, leaving me to do the waiting, the awful, interminable, watch-the-minutes-tick-by-like-hours waiting. Waiting filled with fear, worry, and scattered prayers. And in those quiet, endless minutes, with no crying baby, no yelling 3-year-old, no laundry, no phone, no work to be done, no to-do list a mile long, my prayers were strained, shallow, cold. I prayed as if I were talking to a stranger. What was wrong with me? Why was it so hard to pour out my fears to God and take refuge in Him?

That’s when I realized that my relationship with God had grown shallow over the days and months of busyness. I’d been doing many of the right things -- going to church, reading my Bible, praying for the needs of my family and friends. But somehow I had lost that intimate connection with God.

After a couple hours the doctor came out to the waiting room. His smile relieved the tension in my chest. “Surgery went well. No complications.”

“Did it . . .”

He shook his head. “No, the appendix didn’t burst.” He ran his fingers through his hair. “But I have to say, it was biggest, nastiest unburst appendix I’ve ever seen. The thing was this long.” He measured a span of about six inches with his fingers. “It had to have been cooking in there for a good week.”

“A week?”

“I suspect the antibiotics he was taking masked the symptoms. It’s a miracle it didn’t burst.”

I sat back down. A miracle . . .

“You’ll be able to see him in about a half hour. Someone will come get you.” The doctor strolled away.

A week. The antibiotics masked the symptoms. A miracle. Masked the symptoms . . . the words swirled through my mind. And finally I understood. Sometimes you don’t know you’re sick, either physically or spiritually. Sometimes the symptoms are masked. Just like the signs of appendicitis, my symptoms of spiritual sickness had been masked too, masked by my busyness.

So, during that half hour more of waiting, I prayed, thanking God for the miracle of an unburst appendix, and asking him to “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24).

In the weeks that followed, Bryan healed, and so did I. God helped me to find some quiet, reflective times to spend with Him. I began to get back to those deep places with God, places where I could rest in Him and know that He was healing the shallowness of my soul.