I wrote this over ten years ago for our local Church newsletter.
“God won’t let me be ill. He loves me and has the power to heal, so I’ll be well soon.” As the days turned into months, I added a bargaining approach to my pleas, “If the Lord will restore my health, then I will be such a diligent servant.” Slowly, my hope of making a deal which the Lord couldn’t resist, faded. My convert naivety gave way to a more mature realization that Heavenly Father, instead of merely catering to my wishes for ease, loves me enough to give me what is best for me.
I began to wonder what I was to learn from this experience. I optimistically hoped to learn the lesson quickly, then move onto something more fun. When the months became years, I finally began to accept that the Lord knew what experiences I needed to encourage me to grow. As this sense of purpose in life developed, I no longer felt frustrated. At last, I could look at problems as opportunities, even as exciting challenges, like solving a tough puzzle.
My doctor identified many “opportunities”. One day, he calmly informed me that I would have to have a house that was always kept dust and mold free. Of course my initial reaction, as usual, was to feel overwhelmed. When the panic subsided, I reminded myself that this was just another challenge, and there had to be a way to accomplish it. I did have a clear goal, but how was someone with all the energy of a sick snail to do this? I evaluated my resources: a busy husband with little time and even less inclination for housework, young children (an asset?), no extended family support, and no money to buy maid service. We couldn’t ask for help from our neighbors year after year, so we had to find a real solution to this problem.
It didn’t take me long to realize that my mind was going to have to compensate for what my body was unable to do. I began to gather information. I read church lessons and books on home management. I asked advice. I also learned to listen to the questions my family was asking such as, “ Why does this have to be done?”, and “Why do I have to do it?” Slowly, I learned to set priorities. I learned to determine what had lasting value for our family. I tried to spend my meager energy doing what only I could do, and delegated the rest.
In looking for creative solutions, I found an hidden asset (under worn carpeting) of old oak flooring. We finished the floor, got rid of or stored what we didn’t frequently use, and organized and labeled shelves, so people, besides Mom, could put things where they go. We further simplified by buying washable rugs, and replacing stuffed furniture with easy care rockers and a day bed. An added bonus of this pared down housekeeping was that my husband, no longer feeling as overwhelmed, began to offer more assistance.
I also found that my children could be a great help. I was amazed at what children could learn to do for themselves, when they had tools their size put where they could reach them (and put them away). I even set up reminder and rewards systems (in pictures before they could read) to help them manage their own responsibilities. To end the great room cleanup hassle, we put beds and clothes in one room, and toys in another.
We also set up some family rules which stopped dirt at the source. Basically everyone, even tots, had to clean up after themselves. It surprised me how much neater everyone suddenly became! My favorite change though, was leaving shoes by the door. Now there was little dirt to clean up!
I was amazed! Though I had never regained my health, my house was clean. It wasn’t my energy that had increased, but my abilities. My “opportunities” had helped my faith to grow, and had encouraged me to develop unknown talents. Now not only did I have a clean home, but I had an increased capacity to deal with life, children who had learned to be responsible, and a husband who had learned to serve.