Last week I fought the blues. This is a rare disposition for me, but the old self-pitying serenade had begun to hum in my soul. The downstairs carpeting struck me with its dreary tattered state; tallying the years, I realized it had been laid in the living room, the small listening study, up the stairs and down the hallway some 38 years ago. I was in one of those ventilating prayer times with God—you know, the times when we tell Him off and clear the air. You’re taking care of everyone else, and I’m taking care of everyone else, but who is taking care of me?
The summer has been long with a pile of grief, too much to do and too little help. The former yardman from the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, is a migratory worker who lived with us during the growing season for four years. He worked for clients up our lane, but mowed our lawn weekly and gave me one or two hours in return for a rent-free room. Then when he had extra time and I had extra money, he would fit in several more hours. Last fall and this spring, the yard was a peon of praise to the Creator God who initiates all growing things. Our friend did not come back this spring due to bone scraping bone in his spine and a sudden cancer that put his wife in and out of treatment. But he thought he could come for three weeks. My heart leapt. This man is a Master Gardener; one hour of his time was worth three to four hours of another person’s time (mine in particular). He knew our yard, knew my preferences, had enough English to understand me. Suddenly, the burden of too much to do began to fall away from my shoulders.
However, we received a phone call that he could not come after all. My heart sank. All I could see were weeds and unwelcome wildness. Dark shadows began to creep into my thoughts. This summer has been one of unremitting pain due to the suffering of someone we love. David and I have worked to provide shelter, listening ears, good moments, decent meals, interesting conversation with guests and friends, good plans for the future.
When sadness descends it colors everything; food doesn’t taste good, my body felt tired. Pushing a vacuum cleaner, tackling an overgrown garden bed, hanging sheets on the line felt like exhausting work.
I’m just tired, I thought to myself, knowing how dangerous deep fatigue can be. I’m weary to my bones. OK—time for some physical analysis. Perhaps this is the result of the thyroidectomy I underwent last July. Perhaps I do have cancer still circulating through my system. When do I go to the doctor? And just then, just in this moment of turning my attention toward my own physical and emotional depletion, a little thought nudged my mind: Don’t you feel a lot like you did when you were diagnosed with anemia? Why don’t you add an iron tablet to the iodine supplement you take in the morning?
So I did. Immediately I felt great, strong and healthy, able to walk in the morning, dig in the garden in odd moments. My spirits lifted, and I was thankful and grateful for all that God is doing in my life and the lives of those I love. I even began to sleep better. How strange—a little black ferrous-sulfate pill vanquishes sadness.
Anemia can come on during times of great stress. Sometimes the things that are wrong with us are due to physical depletions as well as to spiritual, emotional and psychological exhaustions. I’m taking my little black pills this week, then will go off of them, and if the symptoms return, I’ll have blood-work done just to make sure the anemia has returned. The Mayo Clinic Web site warns against self-medicating with supplements without a doctor’s opinion. Too much iron can damage the liver.
However, that does not cancel the truth just won: Sometimes we need to pay attention to that inner diagnostician.
Award-winning author Karen Mains has long had an interest in spiritual formation and the obedient Christian walk. She has written about the God Hunt in her book by the same name, The God Hunt: The Delightful Chase and the Wonder of Being Found. A hardback copy can be ordered from Mainstay Ministries for $10.00 plus $4.95 shipping and handling. Contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will be happy to autograph a copy for you.
Karen continues to write content for her Christian blog, “Thoughts-by-Karen-Mains.” In so doing, she desires to touch the lives of Christian women and men and help them find ways to walk closer with the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, through silent retreats, spiritual teaching, women’s retreats, Christian vacation opportunities, and other ministry activities, Karen helps each Christian woman and man receive vital spiritual food.
Through her Hungry Souls ministry, Karen serves as a spiritual coach to many Christian women and men, and teaches a mentor-writing class. And, through the Global Bag Project, she is working to develop a network of African women who sew exquisite cloth reusable shopping bags, Africa bags. This micro-finance women opportunity helps provide a much-needed sustainable income for struggling African families. For more information on this critically important project, please click here.
For decades, Karen and her husband, David, have served God through religious communications—radio, television, and print publication. They are the co-authors of the Kingdom Tales Trilogy: Tales of the Kingdom, Tales of the Resistance, and Tales of the Restoration. To find many valuable resources for pastors and congregations at the Mainstay Ministries main website, please click here.
Likewise, pastors will find special resources to help them prepare effective, life-transforming Sunday sermons by visiting David Mains’ website by clicking here.