Sunday, January 11, 2009

Staying Home

I woke up late this morning -- too late not to make going to church a hurried stressfest. And, frankly, I just don't feel up to discussing my health face-to-face with my church friends today. Which is odd because so many women in my church have had or are now fighting breast cancer that I have a built-in support group right there.

But I'm just not ready for that today. I feel like I'd rather save my emotional capital for next week, when I have a better idea of what's going on, if that makes any sense.

I also spent some tossy-turny time last night struggling with The Accuser. On one of my frequented online discussion forums folks have been talking about how we contemporary Lutherans tend to want to make our theology warm and cuddly and unchallenging for the masses, and how that runs up against stuff like the more difficult articles of the Creed, or the "exorcism" portion of the baptismal liturgy. But as my pastor is wont to point out, the devil becomes real for us in the voice of The Accuser: that hissing, 2:00 a.m. litany of everything we've ever done wrong, are doing wrong and will do wrong, designed to drive us to despair.

In my case The Accuser was gleefully gathering evidence for my lack of good self-care over the years and in the last few weeks: This is what you get for not losing weight. And why didn't you check out that rash as soon as you noticed it? Why did you wait a month? Why did you take hormones for your irregular periods? -- you knew you were perimenopausal and did it anyway. Happy now? You know that people who internalize their anger and frustration are at a higher risk for cancer, don't you? But you haven't done anything about that, have you? Why didn't you eat more vegetables? Why did you eat so much animal fat? You're natural selection in action. You screw up, you pay the price. And so will everyone around you -- because you screwed up. This is all your fault. You brought this upon yourself.

The more I tried arguing with this stuff, the worse it got. I imagined my doctor and her nurse dressed in somber Euro judicial robes, frowning at me while pronouncing the words risk factors.

This went around and around and around. So I finally pulled some ammo out of my meager spiritual arsenal: the Jesus Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. I know my Orthodox friends place great stock in its efficacy -- I once read one Orthodox commentary advising that one use it judiciously, for that reason. I don't want to delve into the metaphysics of it all, but I do know that when The Accuser comes to call it's often like a spiritual rubber band, snapping me out of that cycle of negative rumination.

No bursts of white light. No voice of God telling me that everything would be okay. But The Accuser stopped.

All of which is to say, I woke up very tired this morning, and disinclined to be the object of attention at church. We're probably going out for brunch, then doing some packing at the other house, then coming home for either a funny movie or a therapeutic game of Link's Crossbow.


Beth said...

Th Accuser said to you: You know that people who internalize their anger and frustration are at a higher risk for cancer, don't you? But you haven't done anything about that, have you?

Well, prayer works, but irony does too. I mean, who does he think he is?

Prayers still ascending.

LutheranChik said...

The Accuser is an asshole.;-)

Beth said...

So I've noticed. ;)

Sheryl said...

Just wanted to let you know that you are on the prayer list at my church now. I had to make up a name because I don't know your real one, but God knows who I meant.

You'll be in my personal prayers, too.

Shannon (Beautiful_Dreamer) said...

I'm with Sheryl, prayers going up. I don't know that 'asshole' is a strong enough word to describe the Accuser, but I can't think of anything more fitting right now...check back later... :)

Crimson Rambler said...

Ah yes the Accuser. The Antagonist. F. D. Maurice who was a C of E priest about 150 years ahead of his time said that when you hear that voice you say, "STOP! You get nothing from me, not even attention. You got all that was coming to you, at Calvary." And that is helpful.
Meantime, many prayers and much love.

southernbooklover said...

Um, you're not allowed to beat yourself up over this. Nope. Nada. No way. Not your fault, chickie.